Membership campaign case study: Benenden Health

Organisation name: Benenden Health Status: Not-for-profit friendly society Sector: Healthcare Number of members: Over 900,000 Country/region: UK Campaign name: Rebrand to coincide with open membership Campaign objective: To...

Organisation name: Benenden Health

Status: Not-for-profit friendly society

Sector: Healthcare

Number of members: Over 900,000

Country/region: UK

Campaign name: Rebrand to coincide with open membership

Campaign objective: To attract new members following a decision to open eligibility to any UK resident over the age of 16

Target audience: Potential new members outside Benenden Health’s traditional, public sector market

Delivery/implementation: Rebrand and marketing campaign across all channels

Month/year of campaign launch: In January 2013, what was Benenden Healthcare Society relaunched with a new brand, ‘benenden health’

Contact: Amy Goodman, [email protected], 0845 052 5985.



Benenden Health was founded in 1905 by Post Office worker Charles Garland, in response to devastating levels of TB amongst his colleagues. With quality treatment too expensive for ordinary workers, a mutual society with low cost subscriptions enabled an initial membership of 30,000 to access TB treatment. The organisation has since developed its services and widened membership eligibility.

Its recent rebrand followed a democratic decision by Benenden Health’s members at their annual conference in June 2012 to remove membership eligibility criteria. The move means all UK residents aged over 16 are eligible to join the organisation, rather than just workers in the public sector, as previously. The vote gave Benenden Health a massive opportunity for growth.


The challenge

The challenge was to appeal to existing members while attracting a younger audience. Engagement with current members was crucial to ensure they fully understood the changes ahead of the launch of the new brand in January 2013, which included a new logo and strap line aimed at a wider UK audience.

The new look and feel changed every aspect of the brand, including a softer colour palette and a warmer tone of brand voice to reflect the caring aspect of Benenden Health.


The action plan

Internally, staff had full training to enable them to answer questions posed by members. Meanwhile, the organisation communicated directly with members on the changes, including an overview of the rebrand in its membership magazine, benhealth.

During the run up to its 2012 conference, the society’s executive team invited members to call in and speak to them personally with questions regarding the important change being proposed.

Members could also share their views via a special “Have Your Say” website, which helped ensure members fully understood the rationale for the move.

The rebrand was crucial to ensure the business could reach as many new people as possible. Key to this goal was a multi-million pound advertising campaign, which included taking the brand on to prime time TV for the first time. With external agency support, advertising was rolled out across TV, radio, national and regional press, digital and direct mail.

The company also launched a new website, designed to be a powerful tool for members. A members’ area allows membership details to be securely accessed and helps drive better membership engagement, in keeping with the democratic structure of the organisation.

The rebrand was supported by PR activities engaging local communities, including a launch event at the Benenden Health offices in York and a shirt swap initiative with York City FC.

As sponsors of York City, Benenden Health unveiled a mid-season change to the club’s shirt branding at the club’s grounds, Bootham Crescent, and announced that fans who had already bought their old branded shirts could have them replaced for free, if they gave their old shirt back. The old shirts were donated to charities nominated by the Archbishop of York’s Youth Trust.


The impact

The shirt swap initiative generated significant media coverage in both regional and national outlets, with charities in the UK and abroad benefiting from the returned shirts. But, says Paul Keenan, head of communications at Benenden Health, “the success of the campaign is not simply one of straightforward growth in terms of finance or membership figures. The business prides itself on its resilience in a difficult marketplace.

“Brand awareness research has demonstrated that knowledge of the organisation did increase. However, there is still work to be done on improving understanding of what Benenden Health has to offer.”

In 2014 this will be a key goal for the organisation as it continues to market to new audiences across the UK.

“Benenden Health has been able to reach out to potential new members with a revitalised brand and a clearer message,” says Mr Keenan. ” The impact of these changes has been incalculable in terms of the position it puts the organisation in for moving forward with its vision to be the leading health and wellbeing mutual in the UK.”

In 2013 Benenden Health won the Moneywise Customer Service Award for Most Trusted Healthcare Provider for the third consecutive year.

In this article

Join the Conversation