March 24, 2016 marks World Tuberculosis Day. It was on this day in 1882 when the cause of TB was discovered and 134 years later, TB still kills 1.4 million every year.

Globally, TB is the second leading cause of death from an infectious disease and has long fallen short of getting the attention and funding it so desperately needs. Of course, TB isn’t the only disease that suffers from a lack of funding, but when you compare it to HIV and malaria, the differences are staggering. The conversation must change.

Creating a movement of advocacy and support for tuberculosis

So what do those within the TB community, or any community that is trying to get a grip on a life-threatening illness, do? They think beyond the disease. To create a movement of advocacy and a groundswell of support, the disease needs to become a cause—a cause that inspires both the people affected by TB and those who can make the difference that’s needed.

But creating a cause is no easy feat. And yet, as we’ve observed over the years, creating a cause is where brand can play a powerful role in changing attitudes and behaviors. By arming the cause with a human voice and an emotional connection, it can break free from the confines of the medical world in order to motivate action on a social and political level.

That’s not to say doctors and epidemiologists are not important—far from it, in fact. They are vital to understanding global diseases, measuring progress and impact, and discovering the next cure. But a scientific approach won’t engage hearts and minds. It can, in many instances, prevent effective advocacy. When messages are too technical and imagery too clinical, they often lack relevance and meaning to an audience that quite simply wants to know what the issue is and how they can help.

The most successful cases are those that resonate with millions. HIV, for instance, is always open to diverse voices and linked to other social issues such as LGBTQ and human rights. Making itself relevant to more people, not just the experts.


Building TB awareness through a simple story

Siegel+Gale engaged with the Stop TB Partnership to create a simple story that could resonate with millions. By developing clear language, messaging and voice attributes to transform the conversation about TB, the Stop TB Partnership could amplify the efforts of the whole TB community around the core brand pillars of Unity, Empowerment and Progress.

In tandem with the brand strategy, we created a brand identity to symbolize the united efforts of the cause and to provide a clear and consistent visual message each and every year on World TB Day. Recognizing the strength and memorability of simple imagery, we crafted the Red Arrow symbol to serve as a powerful mark of solidarity and to represent the true ambition—to End TB. Used across posters, advertisements, merchandise and on pins, this mark holistically communicates the message and goal of the organization, capturing attention and building public awareness.

Ultimately, brand and communications are vital to engaging audiences to support or take action on behalf of others. For charitable causes, it is no longer enough to rely on status and heritage to attract supporters, and so for public health campaigns that need to get their message out with impact, brand can provide the mission and energy to connect with people on an emotional level. At the heart of any great brand should be a clear and compelling purpose that defines why it exists and why it matters. Without it, you’re not giving people anything to believe in or fight for—but a brand, particularly one in the not-for-profit sector, also needs clear measures of success alongside its purpose that can help to communicate its cause far and wide.

For Stop TB Partnership, this is the start of a brand-led future—a global movement with the sole purpose to End TB. And from now on it can assess how it has united efforts, empowered voices and made progress.

This post was co-written by Rana Brightman, strategy director and Nichola Seeley, marketing manager at Siegel+Gale. Follow them on Twitter: @rana_banana and @NicholaSeeley