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Non-Profits Ask, Does My Brand Work?

Apr 23, 2008
Brands that work start with the relationship with the mission or service. From that point, a brand is made of elements which come together to represent the organization, for example elements could include toughness, fairness, social justice, spirituality, compassion and a driving sense of mission.

Non-profit organizations and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) may find that their brand reflects the interaction with their supporter and donor community, rather than a recipient of services. Irregardless, the principals and actions of branding are the same.

A brand doesn't start out by declaring it's going to save the world or be lots of things to lots of people. For a brand to work, it starts by determining how to be one thing to a few people.

Simplicity: The best brands make it simple to understand the mission. Don't complicate the brand. It doesn't work.

Utility: Brand brings identification, decreases risk and embeds values of the mission. Employees and stakeholders benefit from brands because they represent the values an organization consistently adheres to in the face of obstacles. Organizations use brands because it is the marketing tool that delivers across all media.

Durability: The Young & Rubicam "Brand Assessment Evaluator" is a test used to understand current brand strength and future needs, based on the inter-relationship of four brand pillars:

- Differentiation -- A brand's point of difference from similar organizations.
- Relevance -- How appropriate is the brand to the needs community.
- Esteem -- How the brand is regarded.
- Knowledge -- How is the brand seen or understood.

The architecture also helps determine what needs fixing.

For a brand to work, it should be built one pillar at a time, differentiation being the first, most critical step. Relevance asks, is this product relevant to the targeted base. Clean water, yes. Ice machines for Eskimos, probably not. Differentiation without relevance is of no value. Check out Branding For Non-Profits http://molitor42.googlepages.com/home.

The other two pillars, esteem and knowledge, add to brand value and are perpetual works-in-progress. Organizations with a high level of esteem enjoy a good reputation, while knowledge answers the question, "What we do."

Building Community

According to Regis McKenna in his book Real Time, "Brand is the relationship with the product that customers have come to know and value."

Relationship = building community: Your community includes organizations both for profit and non-profit that bring direct or tangential encouragement and support A product community is simply an aggregation of the firms and organizations which has a self interest in the product's success.

Barbalo received over 1 million hits a week. And still is very active.

In 2007 we see the phenomena of Hanna Montana (with a little help from the Disney machine), a community totally "in the moment".

Clients are usually a distinctly different audience from donors and supporters

Non-profit organizations and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) may find that their brand reflects the interaction with their supporter and donor community, rather than a recipient of services.

In the end, brands are all about the organization, how it reflects and engages key constituencies, how it defines aspirations and enables attainment.
About the Author
Non-Profit Branding Expert Douglas Molitor is communications professional, http://dougmolitor.blogspot.com/, with over 20 years experience in messaging, positioning and branding. Check out Branding For Non-Profits http://molitor42.googlepages.com/home.
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