Anna Whitton, CEO of Via (formerly WDP), shares the news about changing their name and brand, the story of why they’ve made this big step, and what’s next in their journey.
For people who know us and what we do, the decision to make this change will probably make sense. We aren’t a drugs project in Westminster anymore, and haven’t been for some time. Our services are now delivered in lots of different areas across England. These services also now include young peoples’ services and IPS services, for example, as well as the integrated community and residential drug and alcohol services that people know us best for. So our growth and development have led us to a really positive point where we’ve outgrown our original name.
In saying this, changing the name of an organisation is a big decision and finding a new name is not easy. Because of that, we invested time in listening to what people had to say about who we are, how we do things and what makes us different. We wanted to know what people really thought about our name and brand, both now and with an eye on future changes and developments.
Asha & Co led this piece of work for us and spent time with people who use our services, those who work and volunteer for us, and commissioners who know us well – along with those who don’t. They conducted one-to-one and small group interviews to explore in detail perspectives from a diverse group of people across a number of different roles, as well as undertaking broader research, review and reflection work.
The feedback from this initial phase was really clear and consistent. People told us that they wanted a name that was more discreet, that was simple, clear and not tied to any particular geography or substance. Importantly, they also told us to reflect our humility in our name and brand, that the work we do is inspiring, but that claiming this in a name can be off-putting and doesn’t really reflect the way in which we already communicate. So, the task for any new name and brand was not a simple one and came with many requirements, including not losing the legacy of the last 30 years and our development over time.
Our new name and brand were developed by Asha & Co, utilising the research they had undertaken, and the strong perspectives communicated from many different voices. Critically, while our senior team and board of trustees have known about the new name and brand for several months now, other than participating in the final approval process, our influence over its development was no more significant than anyone else who contributed to the original research phase. This was important to us – we wanted a name and brand that really reflected who we are, not what I or we as the ‘senior team’ thought it should be.
OUR NEW NAME IS VIA
Via reflects that we are part of a journey, that everyone’s journey is different, and that we work with people along their individual route. Our logo reflects that too. You’ll see that it changes, signalling the different paths that people take and choices that can be made.
You’ll also see that our logo is black and white. It is clear, simple and easy to recognise in its different forms. It changes as you click through our new website and on our different service materials, but it is very clearly us.
The colour in our brand comes from photography. That photography reflects the real world, not a perfect world. Our headline photographs purposefully don’t include faces, as we think that can feel limiting or excluding and so instead the images reflect moments, beauty in the everyday and people connected to the world that they live in. In effect, real life and lived experiences.
The way that we’re using photography means that over the next 12 months we want to move to a position where all of our headline photographs are taken by the people who use our services, or who work or volunteer for us. We want to have a brand that can really feel owned by those who are central to what we do. That’s something we’re really excited by and I hadn’t anticipated that a change of name could bring such compelling opportunities to connect our work.
The new name and brand also support changes across our service premises. We aren’t just changing the external signage but are taking the time to enhance our internal spaces too. Many already have murals that have been co-developed with people who use our services, so we’ve thought carefully about how the new brand works with those spaces and we’re excited about how it all comes together to support safe, welcoming and positive service environments.
There has been lots to do to implement this initial but big change, and we’re really lucky to have had a great team of people to make that happen. We’ve got an exciting programme of work ahead of us, building on much of the progress that we’ve been making over the last few years. It’s important that we don’t lose sight of that, and that we continue on our really exciting and important journey too. This includes completing the implementation of our women-only inpatient detoxification unit (more to come on that soon) and a new learning and development offer, which builds on the work we’ve completed to shape our values and approach very explicitly into our employment offer.
You can check out our new website here – www.viaorg.uk – which includes links to our social media channels, a short film that explains our decision to change the organisation’s name and why we think Via is a good fit for us. And, as always, if you’ve got feedback about what you like and don’t like or suggestions about next steps, please get in touch. We hope that you like our new identity as much as we do!