The Makaton language programme combines speech and signing as one, to help people with learning or speaking difficulties.
Since it was established nearly 40 years ago, millions have benefitted from the programme, but a mission to help everyone communicate to their potential, was our brief from the ambitious leadership team at the enterprising charity behind Makaton.
Research and insight
We spoke to users and teachers, parents and carers, Makaton tutors and trainers, and the charity staff and board members. We took a Makaton class and visited Makaton-friendly schools.
People described Makaton as life-changing, but simple to get started and fun to learn. We also found that Makaton was often taught unofficially or incorrectly, weakening the impact of the programme and leading to lost revenue.
Finally, it became apparent that the previous brand name, ‘The Makaton Charity’, sent a confusing message. The primary audience aren’t donating to Makaton, they are the end-users: people start benefiting as soon as they start talking Makaton.
Our insights led us to define Makaton’s purpose as ‘Giving everyone a voice’. Two key recommendations came out of this: to position Makaton as an officially recognised way of communicating; and to convey the joy of communication.
Just like Makaton does with language, we combined speaking and signing in one icon, with a hidden speech bubble created between the thumb and forefinger. It’s a logo that anyone can sign, whether they know Makaton or not.
Designed to work as a universal seal of approval, the logo acts as kitemark for officially qualified teachers, certified trainers and accredited learning materials. And a proud, positive symbol that recognises association for engaged advocates and everyday users.
We identified that the ‘charity’ part of the old brand name sent a confusing message. The audience aren’t donating to Makaton, they are the end-users: people start benefitting as soon as they start talking Makaton.
We dropped ‘Charity’ from the brand name, and activated ‘Makaton’ by prefixing it with ‘Let’s Talk’, changing the tone from institutional to conversational, while helping to demystify what Makaton is.
The identity communicates the positive energy and empowerment that Makaton enables. But also how fun and easy it is to get started. A conversational and active tone-of-voice captures this and reinforces the idea of getting people talking.
Simple typography puts language first; while expressive, authentic human imagery celebrates the Makaton community and their stories. A flexible colour palette, tied together with a distinctive yellow ‘pop’, gives the brand an uplifting, playful feel.
To complete the toolkit, we decided to put Makaton’s very own signing library to work. By applying pre-existing drawings of core vocabulary to merchandise and business stationery, the brand is made accessible to end-users too, while also encouraging people to get talking at every touchpoint.
To bring the brand into people’s hearts and minds, we designed a simple, hard-working launch campaign.
A weekly video brief to sign a topical word was promoted through social media using the hashtag #wetalkmakaton. Responses were aggregated on a simple website, which doubled-up as a dedicated home to announce the new brand.
As an ever-growing library of core vocabulary and destination for an engaged community in one, the campaign website says everything a new user needs to know about Makaton: a platform to give everyone a voice, that anyone can be part of.
The combined result of the rebrand and launch campaign were dramatic and immediate. In the first quarter after launch, billings were up 247% on projections.
More identity work on the MultiAdaptor website.