Cancer Research UK


A brand for the next Nobel prize winner.

Cancer Research UK came to SomeOne to work on an immense task.

Create a way for the charity to talk to scientists at all career stages, across hundreds of biomedical disciplines — as well as entirely new scientific audiences unaware of the organisation’s work.

Cancer Research UK funds research as its primary way of supporting world-leading UK scientists on their journey to make life-saving discoveries. It’s why the charity is simply called Cancer Research UK.

In 2014 a refreshed strategy set the bar high. Now the charity has explicitly set out to improve survival rates to 3 in 4 by 2034. How? By expanding and diversifying its funding portfolio. This has prompted the introduction of several significant new research grants.

Their funding portfolio now comprises of around 30 grants, covering a number of formats — from fellowships to projects to programmes.

BUT — These products were currently communicated and visualised in a generic and inconsistent manner that confused rather than clarified their purpose.

That’s where SomeOne came in.

We’ve developed a new creative design system that groups all products into a coherent funding portfolio.

Creating distinctive identities for the 5 subsets:

» Cancer Research UK — Discovery Research
» Cancer Research UK — Translational Research
» Cancer Research UK — Clinical Research
» Cancer Research UK — Population Research
» Cancer Research UK — Research Careers

With so much complexity surrounding the navigation and communication of so many grants, SomeOne found a new way to signpost the big 5 groups. Not only that, we turned that signposting system into a way of branding all the communications in a way that appeals to a scientific mindset.

After identifying and naming the 5 core sets we created unique pictograms for each. However these are no simple silhouette as seen in so many pictograms.

SomeOne developed a series of highly detailed constructions that were based on molecular models used in the science community. These constructions blend reality with a more artistic interpretation of what’s possible to create gravity defying and shapely forms. These were modelled in glass rods and high shine ceramic ball sockets.

One of the biggest challenges was defining the line between art and reality. Particularly for the DNA and protein structures, which had to remain scientifically accurate.

From one precise perspective the models clearly show icons corresponding with each group. A globe for population research, a DNA strand for discovery, a protein structure for translational research, a human figure for clinical research and a ladder for careers.

These models can be photographed at a variety of sizes, crops and angles to develop an instantly ownable suite of visual assets to be used in the branding and communications.

We really wanted to elevate the visual language to the same levels of precision and complexity that the scientists bring to CRUK with their research. All the while creating something beautiful to look at.

Tom DabnerLead designer, SomeOne

Everything is designed to enable the development of ‘outlier’ products in the future and is flexible enough to be applied to any new funding products, marketing channels, assets or events — or to any restructuring of our funding portfolio.

The new work applies the new science brand identity (also created by SomeOne) and amplifies the pioneering, aspirational and unique aspects of Cancer Research UK’s work.

Already it’s helped increase Cancer Research UK presence as an internationally acclaimed research brand.

This project has been a fantastic opportunity to learn more about such an amazing organisation. Each pictogram was stress-tested by real–life scientists ensuring they were as robust and accurate as possible, since nothing slips past this audience’s eyes.

Locket AebischerProject Manager, SomeOne

People new to the brand are demonstrating a more rapid understanding that charity wants to fund the highest-quality cancer research, expand their research community and accelerate our progress in beating cancer sooner.

It’s working well to help applicants navigate the extensive funding portfolio and to find schemes that are most applicable to them.