Last week I received the above pink set of objects in the post.
They were all part of the welcome kit for the ‘Race For Life’ marathon of Cancer Research UK, in which I will be taking part this summer. When I opened the package, I was amused with the content and delighted to see how much thinking and planning has been put in to it. This motivated me to learn a bit more about the forthcoming event.
After some light research, I learnt that since 1994, ‘Race for Life’ has been the slogan representing a series of fundraising events that take place across the UK during the summer months to join forces and fight against cancer. For that, 5K and 10K marathons happen in different parks and green spaces in many cities. Women from all ages are welcome to participate in the events and run, walk or dance all the way to the finish line.
What I also found interesting was that each marathon seems to be part of a holistic design strategy. Holistic thinking has a deciding role in the development of a successful outcome: event, service or product, however it is not always effectively achieved or even considered when solving a complex problem. In design, a holistic thinking/design process is achieved by the combination of analytical and creative activities, often including problem definition, data gathering, thorough problem understanding, familiarization with the user, and the prototype and evaluation of solutions. The ‘Race for Life’ design strategy is briefly examined below.
Holistic design strategy
Its design strategy is based on an intriguing slogan, strong marketing campaigns (in TV, radio and street advertisements, and newspapers) and a splash of colour Pink. All these parts together symbolise and communicate the core mission of the event. Particularly, its identity colour caught my attention. Many reasons seem to be behind the choice of that colour, including:
- Its meaning. Pink denotes both life and positive thinking, builds self-esteem and encourages healthy living. Apparently, pink also neutralises disorder and violence, while providing relaxing feelings. Therefore, it is often used as the identity colour to represent the essence and vision of health charity organisations.
- Brand Identity. Pink and blue are Cancer Research brand identity colours. Interestingly, while Cancer Research website has blue as the main colour, on the ‘Race for Life’ website the pink colour is used as the leading colour.
- Targeted participants. The colour pink emphasises the fact that these are women-only events, as it is also often used to symbolise women’s causes.
- Message & Mission. Although these marathons are the ‘excuse’ to provide help to beat a serious disease, through the use of pink colour, a fun and relax environment is created around the events.
The colour Pink is applied with intelligence across different platforms and materials, promising a pink experience, in many ways.
The ‘welcome kit’ contributes to make the whole experience a very special one. Once you have signed in for one of the marathons, a big pink envelope containing seven components arrives to your door after only a week. The way each component is designed reflects care and understanding, and a concern for functionality, but aesthetics too. Below an overview of the components of my kit:
- T-shirt: You can choose your outfit from a variety of t-shirts and other accessories. All running clothes are pink (or pinkish, better said).
- Leaflet: An A5-folded leaflet includes the formal welcome, relevant details and information for the race, and a useful ‘checklist’ of the steps to follow before and on the day of the marathon to make the most of the experience.
- Running number: An A4 white and pink sign indicates your running number, which needs to be pinned in on the t-shirt. Interestingly, on the back of the number there is useful information and space to complete with your safety details (e.g. emergency contacts) for the day of the race.
- Back t-shirt sign: A pink and white bubble sign has been designed to write on a message/mission for the race. This needs then to be pinned in on the back while running to share to everyone the reasons why you are there.
- Race for Life wristband: This is my favourite. Two wristbands to ‘show of support in the fight against cancer’. A pink one for the participants, and a blue one for the supporters.
- Poster/Cheering board: An A3 double-sided poster for participants and supporters. Before the race, participants could use the poster to promote the event and invite friends and colleagues to join. The poster has all the necessary information about the race and how to get involved. Then, on the day of the race, the poster becomes a cheering board! On the back of the poster, there is space to write supporting messages which then family members and friends can hold on the sidelines all the way to the finish line.
- Sponsorship form: As a charity event there are many ways in which you could raise some money and have sponsors: by phone, setting up an online webpage (as I did) or by asking friends, family members and work colleagues to complete a sponsorship form. In the sponsorship form included in the kit the information is well-designed, clearly indicating how it needs to be completed, where the money will be invested in and how to return it to the corresponding charity organisation.
Many more aspects of this design strategy could be analysed and even the above kit components deserve a more exhaustive look, but hopefully the ones described here have provided the overall sense of the problem-solving process that has been involved in this ongoing project. The ‘Race for Life’ event is an interesting case study that evidences the relevance of holistic thinking for an effective design process. Therefore, I have no doubts that the experience will keep being pink until the very last minute of the race. So looking forward to it!
Race for Life – Cancer Research UK
14 July – Hyde Park, London
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