I get that when an organisation rebrands it’s not in and of itself that interesting. It only becomes so if the organisation in question knows why it’s doing it and that this ‘why’ resonates with its audience.
The old-look API has served us very well over the years. The logo – instantly recognisable as a badge of quality for the play industry – is a promise to customers that the company they have chosen can be relied upon to provide the best products and service.
But now, as the issues around play in the UK have evolved, it’s time for the API to evolve too; the new branding has to encompass so much more. Aside from the practical considerations of building a website that’s informative, easy to navigate and a go-to for the industry, it’s been important to us to signify a change.
That’s because there has been a change in the conversation around the state of play in the UK. In 1984 when the API was founded, we couldn’t have guessed that just over 30 years later we’d be facing epidemic levels of childhood obesity, alarming rates of mental health problems in children and some children failing to reach even basic developmental milestones due to lack of play.
Of course, we have a commercial interest. We exist to support our member businesses and to strengthen the play industry. But we also have a central part to play in the debate around dwindling opportunities for children to play in the UK.
The shocking decline in playgrounds in England uncovered in our research, Nowhere To Play, was a wake-up call. For years we have (quite rightly) taken for granted that children will have free and safe access to good quality areas where they can play with one another in an unstructured and largely unsupervised way. This is not only how children learn socially, physically, cognitively and emotionally, it is quite simply what children do. Given half a chance, play will always be a child’s default setting.
I don’t think anyone in 1984 foresaw that austerity measures would have such a profound impact on an entire generation. There are now millions of children for whom sitting and playing on their screens is the norm and playing outside an oddity. Most of their experiences of playing out will be infrequent and accompanied by adults who will probably have had to transport them to somewhere safe to play. This is a far cry from the freedom to play many of us grew up with.
And so, why re-brand? Because the Association of Play Industries is more important than ever. Yes, one of our primary roles is to support the play industry and this will always be the case. But our remit now is far wider – unless we campaign to safeguard playgrounds and prioritise children’s play, not only could the industry decline irreversibly, but an entire generation will have been very badly let down.
I do hope you like the new look API, take advantage of its excellent services and benefit from all the latest play industry insight provided. But more than that, I hope you can support us in campaigning for children’s fundamental right to play.