Changing perceptions in 2018


If they don’t already, the words perception and reputation should feature in every word of the year shortlist in 2018.

It seems we’ve been given reasons to question our perceptions of people, businesses, governments and, more broadly, ’the truth’ more frequently this year than we have been in recent history.

It seems fitting then that we end 2018 with a brief homage to the word and a quick look at some of the work we’ve done this year to change perceptions for social good. 

Perception in the digital age

Perception is complex. Too complex, we think, to deconstruct thoroughly in a single blog post. Suffice to say that our perceptions are formed in the moment but are shaped by a lifetime of experiences, relationships and information. They are formed and reformed as we speak, write, read, watch, listen, feel, smell, taste and act. It’s complex.

And, more complex today because of the growing number of experiences and information sources we have available to us and the speeds at which we consume and publish information. Of course, this means changing perceptions today involves understanding the benefits and pitfalls of a growing number of channels and the many elements that contribute to perceptions at any time.

What follows are two examples of how we helped change perceptions this year.

Shaping conversations through social media

2.5 million New Zealanders log into Facebook each month. The sheer volume of users and targeting capabilities makes it the perfect platform to host conversations and reach key audiences. When SenateSHJ was tasked with helping start conversations with communities about road risk, Facebook was a core platform we turned to.

‘Any number is too many’ is a community-based initiative to help prevent deaths on roads in New Zealand’s lower South Island. Through the use of a Facebook Page, we were able to share real and personal stories that helped communities to understand local road risk.

The ability to have two-way communication meant that people were able to join in the conversations and pledge their support to continue those conversations in their local communities. 465,000 people were reached by the programme and the areas where the programme ran were the only parts of New Zealand to see a reduction in road deaths.

A new identity for a new era

Baltara School (now YarraMe School) in Melbourne, Victoria was once a school for young people in custodial settings. The school has long since re-established itself as a school that offers early intervention specialised support and a unique learning environment for students with behavioural challenges. Despite this, it was still associated with its history and incorrectly thought of as the place ‘where bad kids go’.

Understanding that changing the way the school was perceived would go a long way towards helping instill self-confidence and self-belief in its students, the school embarked on a campaign to change its name and identity.

Over several months, the Kamber team worked with the school community to establish a new visual identity. Together we created a new logo, motto, signage, brochures, name badges, business cards and brand guidelines to represent what the school stood for now – a new identity that the community could be proud of and which instilled pride in its students. The school, renamed YarraMe School, launched its new identity in May 2018.