Celebrating 100 years of independent thinking

Chatham House is an influential, ideas-driven organisation with a track record of independent research and trusted dialogue. For a century they have fostered mutual understanding between nations through ideas, debate and rigorous analysis. Approaching their centenary year in 2020, they asked us to redesign their brand to broaden the appeal and provide visual consistency across digital and analogue platforms.

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Broadening the appeal

To create a distinct and far-reaching brand, we ran a survey to understand how Chatham House was perceived by audiences around the world. The results highlighted the strong connection to the name Chatham House and their historic reputation as a trusted think tank. But the survey responses also revealed an opportunity to position the brand as more dynamic, inclusive and collaborative.

Digging into the history

A search through the famous Chatham House library uncovered old copies of publications dating back nearly 100 years. We found past logos using the royal connection in the form of a crest or crown, when the official name was ‘The Royal Institute of International Affairs’. The informal name Chatham House widely adopted today refers to their headquarters in St James’s Square, London, the home of three previous Prime Ministers.

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A brand for digital

As the audience research showed, it was crucial to preserve something of the legacy of Chatham House. Between 1987 and 2013, a globe with two talking heads had been used as the logo, neatly conveying the Institute’s ambition to provoke international debate. Taking this as inspiration we commissioned La Tigre to draw a modern iteration better suited to digital.

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We paired the new logo with a bold, contemporary typeface – Calibre – and a vibrant palette of colours and blends. Together with a shift towards a simpler, clearer tone of voice, we crafted a brand experience to work across all Chatham House touch points.

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A key objective of the rebrand was to better integrate on and offline applications. We developed extensive print and digital guidelines covering publications, maps, charts and graphs.

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Our work on the Forest Governance & Legality microsite and Tribes of Europe, winner of a Digital Communication Award in Berlin in 2018, has provided an opportunity to support the new brand through commissioned illustration by Charlotte Ager and Belle Mellor.

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Applied Works have truly delivered on the key challenges that came out of the brand surveys – to broaden our appeal and make our work more accessible, dynamic and engaging.

Amanda Moss Head of Publishing and Brand, Chatham House

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A new era

In 2020, Chatham House celebrated its centenary and launched the new brand in what proved to be a tumultuous year for international affairs. By working closely with the Chatham House team, we were able to deliver a fresh and colourful brand with the gravitas to lead them into their second century.

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