A recent Third Sector article reported that
The article talks about the latest findings from the annual Third Sector Charity Brand Index, set up to gauge public awareness of charity brands in the UK. And Cancer Research UK has been named as the charity with the best brand for the third successive year.
We don’t get to see any more details about the research but I have to ask; what makes a charity brand “the best”? I talk and write a lot about brands having to work for their living and actually help charities achieve their objectives. Winning design awards simply isn’t enough if you need to campaign around issues, lobby MPs and fundraise, is it?
It will be great to see more of the underpinning evidence from third Sector’s research over the coming weeks but for now, here’s my view of what the best brands should do for the charities that nurture them:
- Increase the awareness amongst target audiences of who the charity is, LINKED to the outcomes of their work (we don’t have to be universally famous unless it directly supports our objectives)
- Create an emotional and rational connection in the minds of those audiences around what the organisation is all about – values, successes etc – giving people reasons to support and to remember them
- Reflect (either directly or by positive association) what the charity does, how it does it and to give confidence that this is sustainable
- Reflect positively on how the charity is perceived to treat or deal with people, supporters, volunteers, beneficiaries etc…
- Directly support fundraising, campaigning, attracting volunteers, service delivery etc, consistently and in line with the charity’s objectives (we will have to accept that not all of these can be supported with the same vigour all of the time by our brands). If an activity is key to achieving the charity’s objectives then it should be integral to the brand development process!
The acid test of whether a brand is adding most value to a charity is perhaps when the combination of all of the above is enough to make people act in the way the charity needs them to. And then to keep doing so in support of whatever the charity’s bottom line objectives are.
And for the record, I think Cancer Research UK can credit themselves with working towards these ideas and not just occupying the top spot because of the size of their marketing budgets.
What do you think?
PS – If you’d like to know more about how charities can apply this thinking to make their brands work harder as assets, please do get in touch.
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