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Published on: 15/11/2023


IRC will undertake a rebranding exercise that will commence in early 2024, and finally conclude in 2025, its first brand refresh and repositioning in over a decade. 

It is seeking a highly experienced brand expert and trusted ‘brand guide’ to work with its strategic Communications and Influencing Unit, Management Team, and Network Change team to devise a strategy and brand framework, review its name and develop a creative brief for subsequent development of a new identity.  

The review comes at a critical time for IRC as it pivots in 2025-26 to be a 'network organization', with substantive leadership and focus of IRC shifting to its south leadership teams and country / regional entities (while retaining, in current thinking, the capacity to deliver and present as a global entity).  

Its current positioning (since 2012) as a think-and-do tank for systems change in water and sanitation has become a mainstream approach across the sector over the last decade, with many now claiming this perspective. While IRC remains centrally identified as a systems expert at the heart of the water and sanitation sector, there is a need to explore enhancing and evolving its distinction in the market.  

A final strategic issue driving the brand review is that IRC now exists as part of a global alliance, One For All, with (currently) two sister agencies (Water For People and Water for Good). It is vital that its brand positioning and identity work simultaneously in cohesion and distinction with the Alliance identity and those of its members. Our current identity preexists the formation of the Alliance and does not demonstrate a relationship to it.

IRC substantially reviewed its brand and identity in 2013 and has matured its commitment to a systems approach since then. IRC’s brand is based on the combination of in-country delivery of enhanced services through partnerships with Government and being a renowned think tank and global champion for a systems approach to tackling the global water and sanitation crisis. It does not undertake business to consumer marketing to fundraise with the public, though it is exploring how it might. It does have a successful business to business fundraising operation focused on governments, foundations, and trusts.   

Alongside these three major strategic issues are a series of tactical ones. The foremost among them is that its branded name ‘’IRC’’ is regularly mistaken for the global humanitarian agency the International Rescue Committee and/or is taken to be an acronym based variously on its previous identity, the International Water and Sanitation Centre. This is becoming a chronically challenging issue and leading to confusion in IRC focus countries. Other tactical issues include a ‘tired’ visual language that does not support the storytelling of a systems approach to change making or adequately engage evidence-based data visualization.  

It's time for a substantive refresh and improvement. It is imagined at this stage that it will be a significant brand evolution, not revolution. But revolution is always a possibility…

Brand development stages, process, timeline (approx.) 

The development of a brand strategy and framework is the first part of a three-stage brand development for IRC. This request for a quote and proposal is limited to Stage 1. 

Stage 1 – brand strategy: positioning + framework

The tender for Stage 1 will be conducted in late 2023 with the aim for contract and desk research to commence immediately in the new year. This process would culminate in recommendations to the Supervisory Board in May 2024 and all outputs concluded no later than the end of June. See below for brand strategy development phases.  

We propose that the strategy development is approached in four distinct phases, each one with a clear objective and output(s). We propose that this is conducted over a maximum of six months. In devising each phase of this project, we aim to work in a way that is contained and focused, both in terms of time to keep the project cost-effective for IRC, but also with regards to the expected input and time commitment from key stakeholders.  We also wish to use the work undertaken in the brand strategy work for One For All and ensure there is no duplication, only enhancement.  

Phase 1: Strategy exploration + research 

  • Undertake desk research + literature review; 
  • Interviews – 10 individual and 1 group, external / internal (tba); 
  • Communication + Influencing Unit development sessions (tba). 

Phase 2: Ideation and testing 

  • Creative workshop with Management Team panel / Network Change Group; 
  • Sense checking with Chair, Supervisory Board, funder representatives + One For All alliance. 
Phase 3: Positioning and framework 
  • Development of brand positioning and framework; 
  • Creative brief. 

Phase 4: Naming 

The naming process will need to take place aligned to the emergent brand positioning. We will discuss with the agency the optimum process and timeline to conduct this exercise in an integrated way with the brand strategy development. 

Main outputs 

  • In-depth engagements with key staff, Supervisory Board, and partners. 
  • Creative session(s). 
  • Presentations at key gates to the Management Team panel and Supervisory Board sessions (introductory and final recommendations – May 2024). 
  • Brand Framework and strategy positioning (including an expression of this for external audiences – a revised manifesto?). 
  • Creative Brief to guide subsequent design and identity development. 
  • Naming recommendations.  

Stage 2 – creative identity

Following the completion of the strategy a tender will be issued for the development of the creative identity (and possibly a new brand name), assets and brand book. We will seek an agency from the global South, or a creative team of a global agency based in the South. The tender process would be conducted in August – September 2024 with work commencing in October 2024. At this stage we assume this process will take 4 – 6 months. Recommendations and agreements on the brand identity would be made at Executive level, with the Supervisory Board updated on progress and final decisions.  

Stage 3 – development of assets and brand launch

The final phase will be the creation of assets for IRC countries, regional and global identities – from digital assets (for example website) and stationery to new signage and promotional materials. This phase will also include a public PR campaign and launch events programme to promote the new Network. We assume this will be conducted over 2025 and be closely aligned to the opportunities generated through strategic content and partnerships activity. We would strongly recommend that the “All Systems” event in Africa be aligned to this launch activity. 


The consultant will work to the Director of the Communications and Influencing Unit and work with the Communication and Influencing Unit to develop the work outputs. They will work with a leadership panel comprising Management Team Representatives (incl. CEO) and the Network Change Group which will be chaired by the CEO. This central stakeholder group will ensure cascading, sound boarding with departments/teams and a clear dovetailing of the brand development to the ambition of the Network development priorities and the overarching purpose of IRC as a change agent.  

The final recommendations on naming and brand positioning will be presented to the Board for decision-making on direction by the CEO. A RACI approach to the development gates and decision making will be developed with the consultant at the beginning of the contract and agreed with the CEO/Executive.  

The Consultant 

For Stage 1, the consultant or agency will have a substantive track record in the development of brand strategies. We are NOT looking for a design agency, but a smart and experienced strategist/agency who can assist IRC navigate the development of its core brand purpose and position into a compelling enhancement of its current market position. The consultant should have a strong appreciation of justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, and champion the importance of Southern voice and leadership in the process of strategy development. And a strong understanding generally of networked/global organizations from a people, management, and business perspective.  


Applicants are kindly requested to respond with a proposal / motivation letter explaining their interest and qualifications, quote, headline budget (incl. relevant rates as required) for the work, and relevant credentials by 4th December to IRC, attn. Petra Brussee at  Interviews will be scheduled online for week 11th December and the preferred starting date is January 2023. Questions can be directed via email to the attention of Marc Jaffrey (

For additional information please visit our website at 

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