Today we launch our new website, which brings together all the elements of Renaisi’s updated brand and finishes several months of work to update who we are, without losing who we were. I want to share how we got here as I think it says something more about the last two years, which is the same length of time I’ve been Chief Exec’.

John Hitchin, CEO
John Hitchin, CEO

You know that feeling when somebody tells you in a meeting, ‘I had a look at your website’ and your heart sinks? I had that feeling from the moment I started the Chief Executive job in July 2017. I think it was because my idea of what Renaisi could be, was so far from what I saw when I looked at that old website. Over time it also began to get further from what Renaisi was. There was a website-reality gap as well as an website-aspiration gap.

Starting with strategy

I didn’t want to start my time as CEO working on a new website or brand, I needed to get the strategy and direction right first. Throughout my first year I worked with colleagues to reconsider who we are as team, what Renaisi was really about, and how we could make the business stack up for our social enterprise.

The strategy that emerged is one that starts with a question; what does it take to improve a place? You can read more about that here.

Developing a unified offer

One of the central challenges for Renaisi is our breadth of experience and the diversity of our expertise. We emerged from Hackney Council in 1998 with a singular neighbourhood regeneration brief but by 2018 we had two quite different propositions:

  1. Supporting social sector organisations to learn, evaluate and strategise
  2. Delivering services across London for people who are economically excluded

‘Place’ is the lens we have always used to across the whole business and our strong values unite us despite quite different operating cultures and approaches. But what became clear is that we needed a better way to talk about our combined offer. To unify it for ourselves, our clients and our partners.

That’s where branding came in. We worked with external consultants to come up with the language and a visual image of what we do and out of that has grown our new brand. It reflects greater clarity on what we do – help people and places to thrive – and our new website allows us to share what we are learning about that.

What does it take to improve a place - Renaisi business model graphic
What does it take to improve a place?

Our mission remains the same, to help people and places to thrive, but we are now more confident about that breadth and diversity.

I’m really pleased with our new brand and I’d love to know what you think.

Branding that inspires change

What I find interesting is that this new brand has started to catalyse wider change within Renaisi.

Learning and place have become clearer in our brand, and in talking about them they are starting to drive new ways of thinking internally. I’m really excited about some more explicitly place-based and place-informed business development that has been driven by what we’re learning from both sides of our work.

I believe our refreshed brand makes us more clearly about social change:

  • We have more explicit products for the social sector (research, evaluation, learning partnerships, delivery)
  • A method that drives our approach (learning)
  • A way of seeing and thinking about the challenges we’re working on (place)
  • And now we have the language and the platform to communicate it, which enables us to work with others on answering that question.

What now?

We’re 21 years old and I’m proud of what we have done in that time. We have an experience of working on practical social change that is difficult to surpass. I want us to use that experience and continue to learn from it.

It’s a difficult time to feel excited, but I’m excited about the potential of this social enterprise, and the change we can achieve in the years to come. As the Chinese-American writer Maxine Hong Kingston wrote ‘In a time of destruction, create something’.

Please take a look around our new website and sign up for our emails below if you’d like to keep up to date with our learning.