The National Autistic Society was founded 56 years ago, and since then we’ve changed what we say and how we look many times. We do this to make sure that autistic people and their families understand what we do and our purpose as a charity.
We also need to change because understanding about autism is evolving rapidly, in part thanks to the successes we’ve achieved with our supporters in changing attitudes among the public, businesses and the government.
While we and many of our supporters are fond of the way we looked until 27 September, the logo we’ve just changed was seen in our research as old-fashioned.
We’ve talked to autistic people and their families – people who already support us and people who don’t. We’ve also talked to other people and organisations that we want to support the charity if we’re to achieve our aims. Investing in our brand means we will be bolder, more distinctive and better understood.
We believe the changes we’ve made are essential so autistic people and their families know what the charity can do for them. And they are also essential if the charity is to attract the support we need from individuals, funders and businesses.
It’s absolutely right that charities are scrutinised by their supporters and the media when they spend money on their brand. This is particularly true at a time when all of the charity’s teams are being careful about expenditure. We did not take the decision to invest in a rebrand lightly, and have made sure the rebrand is based on two principles.
First, any changes would come from the feedback we were getting from autistic people, their families and others. Secondly, we would spend as little as possible while still ensuring we did a professional job. So we did much of the work internally, while asking specialists to do what they could for free. And we’re only changing essential material, like our website and main information publications and allowing other stock to run down before replacing it.
Our logo is a new symbol and our charity’s name. The symbol takes a spectrum and turns it into an ‘a’ for autism. By doing this, it also makes the spectrum a circle, getting away from the misunderstanding that the spectrum runs in a line from one end to another.
The spectrum also refers back to our history. Lorna Wing, one of the charity’s founders, established the idea of the autism spectrum.