As branding and re-branding become more popular, are charities creating stronger brands or, are they just giving themselves a ‘design and copy makeover’?
If your charity is about to embark on a re-branding process here are a couple of thoughts on what branding is or isn’t that you and your team might want to take on board.
A sustainable and successful brand is donor-centric
I know this seems very basic but, often too many charities overlook this simple fact. They engineer a re-branding process behind closed doors without consulting any of their constituencies (i.e. donors, beneficiaries, major supporters) – not even their staff members.
This means that all key decisions about the new brand are made by a small working party of marketing staff, consultants or graphic designers. And when the new brand is launched nothing much really happens. These charities continue to do business as usual with no increases in donations or in the numbers of new supporters.
However, in a few forward thinking charities donors, beneficiaries and staff are involved in the branding process. Their insights on the charity’s mission, vision and performance and their feedback on donor relations enable the charity to craft new branding messages that resonate with their constituency and get the charity noticed.
Here are a few questions to consider: does the voice of your current donors and beneficiaries resonate throughout your charity? Do you know what donors think about your charity and how your charity makes them feel? What systems or mechanisms do you have in place to receive donor feedback? And if you receive feedback, how do you use that information?
The fact of the matter is that your donors are the ones who decide on the value of your brand. And, you can not strengthen your charity’s brand without insights on their collective evaluation of your brand’s equity.
Donors’ perceptions can make or break your brand
Some people think that the main ways to strengthen a charity’s brand are by having a new fancy logo, a catchy tagline and lots of advertising campaigns.
Although all the above are important tools for enabling a charity to engage with various constituencies they are not what a brand is all about.
A brand is the total sum of perceptions created in the current and potential donor’s minds from all their interactions with a charity’s materials, website and/or staff members, etc.
In other words, a brand can be defined as the total value of the positive and negative relationships that your charity has with its supporters. Consequently, your charity’s ability to generate increased donations or make new friends in the future depends largely on the value of the relationships your charity has with its supporters.
For example, a charity might assume that it is strengthening its brand by sending out regularly beautifully designed magazines with news of its work. However, the same charity takes two weeks or longer to acknowledge donors gifts. The charity might think that it is doing a great job in strengthening the brand – through the magazines.
But, donors might think (as market research or donor attrition will show) that the charity is a poor communicator because it takes such a long time to receive a gift acknowledgment.
Therefore, some donors might decide to stop supporting the charity labelling it as ‘slow to get in touch and not efficient’.
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