Challenging perceptions of mental health: SANE's grand brand plan

A new logo and brand identity are just the tip of the iceberg for SANE as it looks to disrupt thinking around mental health

What does it mean to be sane?

It's a challenging question, and one Rachel Green hopes everyone will think about when they view her organisation’s new logo and brand identity.

Green is the CEO of SANE, an Australian national mental health charity working to support the 4 million Australians affected by complex mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar, personality disorders, eating disorders, OCD, PTSD, severe depression and anxiety.

SANE's new brand identity was created in conjunction with Sydney-based strategic design consultancy, Folk, and features mismatched font presentations, disrupted shapes and bold colours – all designed to reflect the complexity and discomfort associated with complex mental illnesses.

“We wanted to stand out,” Green tells CMO. “Across the sector, you see lots of soft colouring. We wanted to be bold and big, and we wanted to be OK with difference. And when Folk first presented this to us, everyone got really uncomfortable with the different sized font with the different sized letters.”

Prominent in this new brand identity is the presentation of the letter N in the word SANE, which has been deliberately stretched.

“It makes you want to fix it and push it back together,” Green says. “What I like is that it is pushing the other letters aside to make room for the difference, and that was the brand identity - being OK with complex mental health.”

In this way, Green says the new brand directly reflects SANE's perspective. “Rather than trying to fix it or make it seem pretty, we were saying 'what if workplaces dd the work of adjusting to be more inclusive',” she says. “It makes you question why you are so uncomfortable.”

The new brand identity is being promoted through an out-of-home campaign supported by free media and using sites donated by oOh! Media and Lendlease. Green says the impact has been immediate, with a lift in social media impressions to 25 million this year – up from just 5 million in the year prior.

“I think that was because it is big and bold and gave something to talk about,” Green says. “But certainly, we have had a positive response from consumers, and are getting a really strong response to the strategy that goes with it as well.”

Recalibrating the brand vision

The rebrand is part of a broader vision to transform how SANE delivers services, utilising a coalition of partners. This has included the creation of a ground-breaking personalised digital support service for people living with complex mental health issues. For this project, Folk played a key role in running the human centred design process to build the wireframes and visuals for the SANE portal, built on Salesforce's Health Cloud. That work saw Folk awarded Gold in the Web Design and Development category at the 2022 Australian Good Design Awards.

Other key partners for SANE have included Salesforce consultancy, Mav3rik, which helped design and deploy the Salesforce Health Cloud in what proved to be a world-first patient-centric configuration.

“Because it is built as a sales experience, it is all about making you have a good experience and want to come back,” Green says. “Which is really different, because clinical information management systems are all built off the old paradigm of the physician holding the power, and no one cared about your experience.

“So instead, we have built the record entirely around the consumer, and our goal is to be the bridge between the system.”

Other partners include Alive, which led a co-design process to develop the service model, while the overall 10-year vision for SANE was developed in partnership with international management consultancy, Nous Group.

“What is remarkable is these were all massive projects that would normally run end-to-end,” Green says. “We did them pretty well simultaneously, from July 2021 to May 2022.”

This work was also undertaken at a time when the Covid pandemic saw demands for service supporting within the community surge by 50 per cent to 100 on some days.

Rachel GreenCredit: SANE
Rachel Green

Green’s longer-term goal is to reset the community’s attitudes towards complex mental health, in line with the ambition to ‘make space’ for people living with complex mental health. She claims that while community discussions regarding mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression have become mainstream, the result has been to further ‘other’ people with complex mental health.

“Our whole new strategy is about ending the inequity in mental health,” Green says. “One of the things in our new strategic plan is building a coalition of employers and corporates who will work with us and be a vehicle through which we can test our approaches to destigmatising the workplace and create more inclusive spaces for people who want to start their jobs and tell their bosses and have everyone be OK in that conversation.”

  • Brad Howarth travelled to Dreamforce as a guest of Salesforce.

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