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Darlington Building Society

Darlington Building Society


SFC - Stage 1, 2 & 3

About DBS

Regional, independent building society

Formed in 1856, Darlington Building Society had successfully navigated its way through the difficult financial situation of the recession and was looking to review its brand positioning. The Society wanted to set out its future brand strategy and to do this required an established design and branding agency. After being invited to pitch for the account, Shift Brand was chosen for their creativity and strategic approach.

Shift’s challenge

Being a traditional and regional building society, there were several challenges to consider. The main one was to move the brand forward but continue to reflect the Society’s history and geography. Added to this, the rebrand needed to retain an existing, older member profile, yet at the same time be fresh and inviting to a new, younger, digital audience. Shift’s approach was to reignite the Darlington Building Society brand and take it on a ‘journey’.

Shift’s objective

Refresh and evolve an established name

The original identity didn’t fully reflect the brand’s values and by use of a ‘strap line’’ had potentially only appealed to a specific audience. It was felt that Darlington Building Society needed the Shift Full Circle1, 2 and 3 treatment:

  • To realign its identity with its values and brand belief 
  • To reposition the Society giving it a unique proposition in the competitive financial services market place 
  • To develop a brand identity that would reflect the Society’s approachable personality 
  • To communicate a strong brand image that would have ‘meaning’ to all sectors of the Society’s audience. 
Using customer insight, the new brand identity was visualised and tested across all types of media channels – digital, printed and landscape and portrait - to ensure it was ‘fit for purpose’ and ‘future proof’. 

The solution

Was to humanise Darlington Building Society by reviving the brand identity (logo): 

  • Taking it on a journey and giving it longevity 
  • Refreshing the font and colours 
  • Changing the emphasis of the logo wording emphasising ‘Darlington’ and draw attention to its regional presence and the Society’s key values – that of it being local.
Was to establish a ‘single minded proposition’ for promotional activity. We gave them ‘something to smile about’

‘on’ concept

  • A smile icon was integrated with the ‘on’ of Darlington. This creates a happy face and reflects the Society’s personality having a genuine and human approach. 
  • The ‘smile’ icon can be used on all campaign activity such as ‘community events’, ‘promotions’, headlines’, ‘sponsorship’ and point of sale.
  • Internally, this concept fitted with the branding of the Society’s products, such as mortgages – ‘Moving On’; investments – Saving Money’ and insurance – ‘Home ProtectiOn’

Brand extension

As part of the brand identity, Darlington Building Society had wanted to have a ‘character’ that would resonate with their younger audience. This idea was muted to Shift and a brief formulated to give focus all creative ideas. This character had to reflect the tradition of the region, appeal to potential younger members and their parents, and have the ability to be developed across several platforms. Due to the regional association with trains and Stephenson’s Rocket’, the idea of something ‘train’ related was appealing…… ’Darly the train’ was born. Shift invented and created the name ‘Darly’, its branding, the train and carriages and 2D and 3D animation, colouring book, branch point of sale and future character animation - Darly is to have its own animated series and DVD. The name ‘Darly’ was derived from ‘Darlington’ but also sounded like a character. It had to appeal to both boys and girls, so be non-gender specific. Darly and its three separate carriages are to be issued as collectable money boxes – bronze, silver and gold and encourage younger members to respect and save money. 

New brand across Darlington Building Society branches: 

  • Barnard Castle 
  • Bishop Auckland 
  • Cockerton 
  • Darlington 
  • Guisborough
  • Middlesbrough
  • Northallerton
  • Redcar
  • Stockton
  • Yarm

Shift Brand output

  • SFC Brand Platform & brand book
  • Brand strategy
  • Brand identity
  • Product category brand identities
  • ‘on’ icon & concept creation
  • Branch POS
  • Branch posters
  • Product brochures
  • Product leaflets
  • Creation of ‘Darly the train’ naming, branding, character design, packaging and merchandise 
  • Infographic video
  • Press advertising
  • In-store Merchandising
  • Event Merchandising
  • Van branding