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Big questions

Canteen wants to ensure rangatahi across Aotearoa never face cancer alone. But, when the charity approached us in late 2022, they weren’t sure how the brand and its messaging was being received by New Zealand-based young people and their whānau. The team wanted to understand young peoples’ perceptions of Canteen, and how the brand might need to shift to address the needs, barriers, and motivations of rangatahi needing support.

It’s about connection

To begin, we spent time listening – holding a discovery workshop with members of the Canteen team. The team told us Canteen is all about connection – a message they felt was not visible in the existing brand. They also emphasised that no two young people experience cancer in the same way. It felt really important to them that the new brand better reflect the diversity of rangatahi using Canteen’s services.

A nationwide brand recognition survey offered another layer of insight. We discovered a nostalgic recognition of the brand but confusion around Canteen’s purpose and services. A series of focus groups with parents of teens and culturally diverse rangatahi backed up these findings. Interestingly, while rangatahi knew Canteen was for young people, they thought it wasn’t for them.

To begin with, our focus group rangatahi found talking about cancer a bit awkward. But fostering connection and safety in the group soon shifted things. Our young people opened up, and became eager to explore how they might support friends going through hard things.

A community of support

We now had a clear sense of how the Canteen might better connect with rangatahi. We needed to shake off the nostalgia associated with the brand and bring it into the present – demonstrating its relevance while drawing on the credibility of its history. But we also needed to address the perception that Canteen was only for young people with cancer.

The brand needed to speak to young people requiring support. But speaking only to these rangatahi risked widening the gap between young people facing cancer and their peers – fueling feelings of isolation and difference. The refreshed Canteen brand aims to connect with all rangatahi, not just those directly impacted by cancer. We’re helping young people turn towards hard things together – ensuring those who need support feel less alone. Because Canteen isn’t a cancer charity for young people. It is a community of support led by – and for – rangatahi themselves.

A brand for today’s rangatahi

We wanted to retain Canteen’s existing brand recognition, while helping the organisation feel more relevant for rangatahi today. A few tweaks went a long way to modernise the logo and the brand palette. The signature red was adjusted to a modern tone, and paired with contemporary, youthful, vibrant hues – encapsulating the personalities of the rangatahi Canteen supports.

Holding space

Alongside the updated logo and colour palette, we developed a flexible graphic device. Representing ideas of support, holding, and containment, the device acts as a strong brand identifier. It can be used to hold imagery, emphasise text, and create bespoke patterns.

Authentic imagery

The new brand imagery captures rangatahi in moments of connection. The aesthetic is authentic and candid – offering the audience a sense there is a young person behind the lens.

Sharing the hard stuff

The campaign doesn’t shy away from hard things. It acknowledges how we all feel about cancer – scared, overwhelmed, awkward, shy… and promotes the things that Canteen knows can make a difference – community, kindness, fun, and connection.

A big response

A partnership with Together and the MediaWorks Foundation allowed us to spread the campaign far and wide. Delivered across a wide range of social media, radio, MediaWorks station websites, digital billboards, and public transport panels and decals – the campaign certainly made an impact.

In the months following launch, Canteen’s website traffic rose by more than 7,000% when compared to the same period last year, and the charity experienced a 396% increase in web-tracked income. Canteen’s referrals also dramatically increased – demonstrating that the brand is reaching and resonating with those who need support.