REVITALISING HERITAGE FOR CONTEMPORARY RELEVANCE

Client:
The College of Optometrists

Background

The College of Optometrists is the UK’s professional body for optometrists, who are the primary care specialists for eye health and treatment. Tracing its origins to 1895, the College has been responsible for qualifying the profession and providing official guidance for clinical practice.

Problem

The College faced multiple challenges. Regulatory changes would soon end their exclusive role in qualifying the profession. Membership renewals were under pressure as its value was questioned and it faced more competition from other associations. Optometrists themselves felt undervalued as a community: misunderstood by the public and other health care professionals, and fragmented between those in clinical and commercial environments.

The profile of UK optometrists has also changed significantly in the previous decades - the vast majority under 40 are female, and the majority of those most recently qualified are British Asian.

Whilst the College was enhancing its offer with CPD and research, it needed to reassert its long-term value in an uncertain future, and ensure it served, represented and united all parts of the profession.




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Insight

Regardless of their career stage, background or place of work, optometrists are motivated to improve the health of people in need. Often, they chose to pursue optometry rather than medicine or dentistry because of their aversion to blood. Yet despite the training required, they feel they are seen as technicians using machines rather than clinicians using their experience and expertise.


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Solution

The brand strategy was to align more closely with the aspirations of optometrists - elevating the College’s positioning from being primarily associated with qualifying, to being the champion of excellence for the benefit of patients.

Members wanted to feel part of the long, noble lineage of optometry and to contribute to its continuing evolution. So rather than hide the heritage of the institution, we made it more central, linking the College’s work on the future of the profession to its role in the historical evolution of optometry.

At the heart of the visual identity is a new, hand-crafted representation of the College’s heraldic achievement, commissioned from Chris Wormell and developed in collaboration with the College of Arms to ensure this contemporary interpretation remained true to its origins.

The brand architecture was rationalised to ensure greater coherence between different aspects of the College’s work, and remaining sub-brands have identities derived from aspects of the heraldic achievement.

The heraldry is complemented by a simplified, striking colour palette of silver, gold, black and white, and by elegant contemporary typefaces. The brand tone of voice and photography bring to life the much more human, accessible and diverse character of the College and its members.

We worked collaboratively with all parts of the College to ensure the new brand influences every aspect of their work, from articulating their corporate strategy, to the branding of research journals, to events, member materials and a new website.

Female Optometrist
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“Through the process it became clear that we had to retain and build on our heritage whilst adding a new perspective on our role for our members, our profession and our patients. We needed our eyes to be opened by the insight and strategic thought provided by the team at True North.”
Victoria Coss, Head of Marketing & Communications at The College of Optometrists
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