Thank you for inviting me here today. I have long been an admirer of what the United Way does in our communities. A couple of decades ago, I was the volunteer Creative Director for United Way campaigns here in Ottawa. I have also served on local boards who benefit from everything that you do so… thank you for that as well. My intention is to keep this presentation as an introduction to branding and… make it specific to the non-profit world based on our experiences and involvement over the past couple of decades. As you’ll see there are a few areas I want to coverI’ll start with a definition of and examples of what branding is. It has become something of a buzzword in the last few years (although branding goes back over a century). With its increased popularity has come a lot of confusion… hopefully I can dispel some of that confusion. Then I want to spend some time on the unique aspects of non-profit branding. We’ve been fortunate enough to be involved with quite a few non-profit brands over the years and I really believe that your world presents some unique challenges and opportunities. The last couple of sections are intended to be some tips and suggestions for what you need to do when you start your branding journey.
Please… if at any time you have a question or need clarification on something…just jump right in.I’d like to keep this fairly informal and address anything that you hoped to get out of the session.
There are plenty of definitions of branding out there but I think this is one of the best. It addresses the biggest misconception (that we hear) that a brand is a logo, fancy web site, slogan etc. Those things are just part of your brand… the part that you control. I’ll talk more about that later. A brand is a collection of perceptions (about you) that your audience carries around with them.Those perceptions can be good… which is good. They can be bad… which is bad or they can be indifferent… which is also bad. Having a high awareness doesn’t mean you have a brand. There are many that are well-known brands but little is known about them. In other words they don’t occupy much space in the minds of their audiences. And there (most importantly) is where a brand will live. When we were working with St. John Ambulance Canada their research said that most people had heard of them but very few could say what they did, where they made a difference and what they stood for. In other words they had heard of them but had no real perceptions.
For people that work in branding… this is the thought that keeps them up at night.The thought is that you are never 100% in control of your brand. That whatever you do goes out and someone else (in some cases thousands or millions of people) decide what it means. Good or bad. It means that your perspective on branding needs to be inside out and… outside in. Whatever you do internally has an effect on your brand… once it becomes public. When the heads of the big three automakers took their private jets to Washington to ask for public money I don’t think they had the advice of their brand managers or (more importantly) this perspective on branding. What that action said is… the big wigs at GM care more about perks than people. The really scary thing is that if you do something that people DON”T like they are more likely to make their thoughts and feelings known and these days those thoughts and feelings are going straight to blogs and web sites where they can be seen by millions of people. Has anyone here heard of the web site Trip Advisor? (Tell story about hotels monitoring the site)
A brand is really a combination of things… a list of ingredients that go well together… or not. Like a recipe. It rarely depends on one ingredient but rather it is a combination of ingredients… thoughts… missions… images… words… actions… reputation… people… products… services that ALL need to work together to present a compelling and authentic brand experience. There can be any number of things that drive your brand, the job becomes figuring out what those things are. A brand happens whether you are trying or not… whether you want one or not. A brand is a reflection of what you do. To use the recipe analogy again, a brand is like a dish you present to your dinner guests and you hope they like it. I was doing an internal branding focus group for a hospital this week and one of the questions from a front line staff was… what if we don’t want a brand? My answer was… you already have one, we just need to figure out what it is.
I was compelled to add this slide because of the frequency of how often we hear this. We often get calls from companies and organizations that want to brand or re-brand themselves and when we ask the question what (from your perspective) would this involve?... The answer is we need a new logo. Your logo is PART of your brand… it is your brand identity but it is not usually the biggest contributor to a brands success. There are some extraordinary brands with ordinary logos out there and bad brands with great logos. I’ve described a great logo on a bad brand as… lipstick on a pig… it may look better but… it’s still a pig. I’m not saying that you should NOT care about your logo (you should) but you should treat it as just part of what your brand is.
Every time someone comes into contact with your brand it provides an experience that they can take away with them.Ever had a bad customer experience with a retail brand? Snarly clerk… bad return policy… a web site that never responds?Ever bought a product that you hated or… loved? Are you loyal to certain consumer brands? That’s likely because they have earned your loyalty through positive brand experiences. Ever sat in a meeting with a person or people from an organization and thought… these are great people or… this person is a jerk? Ever had a phone answered by someone who shouldn’t be answering the phone or dealt with a waiter who (for sure) should not be in a service industry?These and many more examples are brand experiences and they are what ultimately builds your brand. The question to ask ourselves here is… what experiences are people taking away from our brand?
One of the things that people are talking about in branding is… authenticity. In other words you need to make your brand an authentic reflection of who you really are and what your true culture is. In this way culture will drive a brand. A brand cannot be something it is not from a cultural perspective. Trying to be something you are not will only get you in trouble from a branding perspective. A few years ago we worked with a retail brand who thought their culture was one of being customer focused and offering exceptional customer service. But when we talked to their staff and customers is was anything but. One of things we noticed when we were working with Bruyère Continuing Care is that they seemed to have an extraordinary culture – a group of people who really believe in the mission of the organization and who are totally committed to serving the aging population. There is a palpable feeling when you are in their facilities. And that culture is reflected back through their experiences with patients, families, community partners and donors. And that is helping to build their brand. I think McCain foods has shown what kind of culture they have through their handling of the listeria crisis last year.
This is something that is often overlooked in branding… the emotional connection. Brands are rarely built on facts and figures. Yes people are thought to be rational beings but we are really emotional beings. Emotions create stronger brand bonds or create barriers to building a brand. Ever increasing positive emotions can help people climb what is called the loyalty ladder. Does your brand bring a smile to someone’s face? A tear to their eye? Brands need to figure our how to make that emotional connection.
Just to take the emotional angle a little further… Many brands are loved: Apple computers is (for many) a brand that is loved. One of my partners absolutely loves Tim Hortons coffee… she goes to the drive through and she only buys Tim Hortons coffee for home. People in Canada seem to love Ikea. Kids (of a certain age) love Disney and Hannah Montana. Most people have some products or services that they love. I think in the non-profit world, people love brands because of the causes they represent. That’s often because that cause has helped someone they love.
And here’s the opposite side of loving a brand. The people that hate a brand are often the most vocal. Big brands seem to attract lots of people who don’t like them.Have you heard of the web site walmartsucks.com? A web site and community united in their hatred of the Wal Mart brand. I came across a blog recently called called “brands that suck” and another one that listed the brands that suck… on Twitter. In other words, these people decided that these brands were worth hating because they didn’t “get” Twitter. Some weird stuff is out there.
This is an important point about branding that is widely embraced in the for-profit world and less so in the not for profit world. Although that is changing. We are seeing more and more not for profits and public institutions starting to embrace branding as an asset. A brand which is intangible in so many ways can actually become a tangible asset in the sense that it contribute to the bottom line. There are regular studies done that evaluate the value of for profit brands… perhaps the best known comes from Business Week and Interbrand. I haven’t seen a similar report for the non-profit world although I did read an article that claimed that the Habitat for Humanity brand is worth $2 billion world-wide.
In tough times or in tough situations a brand can be what makes the difference for an organization. One of the non-profits that I am involved with received their largest individual donation in history this week… in this economy. I’m not saying that the brand was the biggest reason but their president thinks that it played a role. When non-profits look at branding the perspective I think they need to take is that of one of building an asset.
I mentioned the brand studies that are done. Coke has been at the top or near the top of those rankings for years. People across the world love Coca Cola. I remember reading a quote from one of their CEOs where he said if they ever broke up the company, he would take the brand and someone else could have everything else. Remember the new Coke fiasco a few years ago? That was the only time in history when the value of the Coke band declined.
Google… a company that does virtually no advertising is the fastest growing brand in the world over the last few years. Millions of people per day experience the Google brand on their computer screens. This is a brand that has been built almost entirely online. Which brands are losing value? The big three automakers and companies in the financial services sector.
Now I’d like to do a quick focus group about peoples perceptions of brands that we all know. The next few slides feature some brands that I picked somewhat at random. Feel free to jump in with your opinions and (if you have them) stories of your brand experiences.
What comes to mind when you hear or see the Volvo brand? Safety… Sweden… boxy cars… Donald Sutherland… baby on board signs? Volvo has held the safest car brand position for years. Other automakers tried to go after that brand reputation but Volvo owned it lock, stock and barrel. Lately they seem to be going after a cool design brand which I think is a questionable move.
How about the Disney brand? This is a brand that came out of the mind of one man… Walt Disney and has remained authentic to its roots for years. Kids seem to love this brand and parents pay dearly for it.
I bet if I asked about GM 20 years ago, the answers would be totally different from today. But, really the brand problems that GM is experiencing today have been built over decades. People stopping getting the brand a long time ago I think.
An iconic Canadian brand… I love to go see live comedy and at the last three shows I have been too there has been a Canadian comedian doing a very funny routine about how bad the service is at Tim Hortons… every body laughs and most of us still line up to get our fix every day. Why is the Tim Hortons brand so strong in Canada and why has it struggled in the US?
People are brands… especially in sports, entertainment and politics. I’d can’t wait to see what kind of box office Billy Bob does in Canada with his next movie.
We have worked with both for-profit and not for profit brands. There are quite a few similarities between the two but there are also some distinct differences. Most of which are very good ones for the not for profit brands.
This is a saying that we use a lot to describe the non profit brands that we work with and… it is true for thousands of non profit brands. Non profit brands do good things… sometimes great things. It’s not about the bottom line… or market share… or the year end bonus. They are motivated by making a difference in communities and lives. It is much harder for a for profit brand to be where you are.
Because you are on the side of the angels, there is (inherently) a much, much higher trust factor amongst the general population towards your brands. A professor at Harvard actually studied this and found that not for profit brands are 2-3 times more trusted than for profit brands. People are not generally skeptical about what it is you do… they trust you faster and more completely. On the down side, if that trust is broken… the reaction can be faster and more forceful than a for profit brand. Think of a not for profit brand that has been accused of mismanaging funds or endangering the public with tainted blood.
People believe that what you are doing is important… because in many cases the missions are vitally important. I say in many cases because not all missions are seen as important… I’ve worked for years as a volunteer with an Ottawa agency that helps young people with substance abuse issues. We realized early on that a certain segment of the population didn’t see our mission or our solution as important. They thought, as one older fellow told me that all these kids needed was a kick in the ass. The challenge here for not for profit brands is to get their brand to the top of the list in peoples minds. I would also imagine for a brand that does so much like the United Way, the challenge could also be to make sure people understand the mission.
Non profit brands usually make a difference in peoples lives…and that builds personal connections faster. Your brands are usually easier to get and connect with because of what you do. Where it could take a number of experiences to connect with a consumer brand, the connection for a not for profit brand can happen almost immediately.
Emotions run high when dealing with non profit brands… when we were doing focus groups with parents, staff, volunteers and families for Bruyère people got very emotional when telling us their stories. That rarely happens with consumer brands… unless the emotion is anger. If your not for profit brand helps people then quite frequently they, their friends and families become emotionally invested… they become volunteers… they become donors and fundraisers.
I’m a big believer in stories and your brands have an abundance of them to draw on in building your brand. The right stories are more compelling that product benefits or a listing of your services. Stories are easier to remember than facts. When we re-launched Bruyère Continuing Care we focused on the stories of families and patients… on the story of Elisabeth Bruyère herself.
For profit brands see the benefit of non profit brands. For a for profit brand, a non profit can bring credibility and a new level of importance and personal connection to their customers. Non profit brands make for profit brands look like good people and a good business.
The practice of branding is not widely embraced in the not for profit world… although as I said earlier that is changing. I think in many cases non profits don’t see how a strong brand will help their missions. There is I think a low understanding of what the benefits of a strong brand are.Some non profits also find the very idea of branding offensive and appropriate only in the for profit world. Also, non profits (especially the smaller ones) seldom have the resources to undergo a branding program and they can’t afford to pull resources from other areas like fundraising for instance. But for the non profit brands who do embrace branding… the rewards can be significant.
I think there a couple of things that influence the fact that investing in a non profit brand is usually a tough sell. And the investment I am talking about is usually an investment of time and moneyFirst and to repeat what I just said, if a non profit doesn’t see branding as offering benefits then, it only follows that there would be a hesitancy to invest any kind of resource into it.Secondly is the investment of time where time is at a premium and everyone is stretched thin. Finally there is the investment of money… do you have enough? And… how will that investment be perceived? These are all great points that each non-profit needs to consider within the context of their own situation.
For those of you who prefer pictures, the next few slides are a simple representation of the elements that ultimately influence whether your brand is successful or not. Think of brand as being at the centre of an ever widening and ever larger series of rings.
The first and closest circle is what you do. This includes your mission, values and the benefits that you bring to various audiences… or the difference you make in communities and in lives.
What you say encompasses your brand’s messages and how they are being delivered. Are they are accurate reflection of who you are? Are they compelling? Are they connecting with people? Are they setting the right expectations for your brand? Are they helping people to understand your brand?
Some people call this the look and feel of a brand. It can be your communication materials, brand identity and so on but it can also be your offices and what people imagine about you when you answer the phones. Think of it this way, if your brand was a person, what would it look like? Would it always look the same? Would it be wearing a business suit one day and shorts and sandals the next? Being consistent is the key in what your brand looks like. A particular challenge for national and international brands.
And finally the biggest circle and the one that ultimately determines your brands position… audience perceptions.
I want to take a few minutes to talk about what strong brands do and… what any brand needs to do to become a strong brand.
Remember the scene in Butch Cassidy when Paul Newman looks back and wonders… who are those guys? Well this is the question that brands must ask of themselves. Who are the people behind your brand? What do they believe in? Is your mission who you are? Bruyère Continuing Care refers to themselves as the champion of an aging population and those requiring
What does your brand do? GE used to say that they brought good things to life. FEDEX got things there when they positively, absolutely had to be there. Disney entertains families. This may look easy to do but it is often very hard to do. The key is to be simple, memorable and to phrase it such a way that it matters to people.
What people are better for you being here? Who do help? How do your help them? When the youth treatment centre that I work with started in the early 90’s they thought that they would be helping youth alone. As it turns out… today we are helping almost as many parents as youth and that is a compelling benefit for many of our donors.
Everyone brand faces competition… if you can convince people that yours is special it helps build brand loyalty and support. This often takes deep digging and soul searching. Not every brand is special but I think any brand can become special.
Why a brand matters is most often found in the minds of your audiences… through what you have done or a cause that you champion. Breast cancer appears to have amazing grass roots support and that is because the disease has affected so many loved ones. Preventing and curing breast cancer deeply matters to thousands if not millions of people. Why should your brand matter?
Connecting on an emotional level helps a brand matter. It creates a longer lasting bond with the brand… a bond that is often very difficult if not impossible to break by another brand. I think the people of Michigan used to connect on a very emotional level with the big three.
So how do you go about growing your brand. The first step and one that many brands overlook is to get inside the minds of their audiences. What do they think of you… your mission… your competition and your reputation?
Research is critical at this stage and I would encourage to do your research early and thoroughly.There are a number of type of research you can do and I would encourage to do as much as you can. It will be enlightening, fascinating and motivating. You might not like everything you hear but you should learn a ton. Tell Sam Walton story about the greeter.
In the end you will learn how people experience your brand and perhaps what needs to be done to improve experiences.
I’ve talked about this earlier but it is worth repeating. What you should strive for is to get everybody on board with what it is you do. We hold sessions with our clients where we distribute questionnaires beforehand and ask them not to compare notes before we sit down with them. It still amazes me that there can be so many divergent opinions around a table.
Here are just a few of the things that you should all agree on.
Developing a key message strategy and (most importantly) sticking to it is critically important.
Here are a few of the things that you should develop and deliver consistentlyPositioning – your elevator pitch. Promise of value Key messages – Barack Obama was a master of sticking to his key messages and look where it got him. Benefit statements – how what you do helpsSound bites – media loves sound bites and so do people. Slogan – not always needed but if you find a good one… run with it. Tone of voice – mention Brazeau Seller and the school board.
Brazeau Seller/OCDSB – tone of voice.
Brazeau Seller/OCDSB – tone of voice.
A touch point is any time your brand comes in contact with someone. Starbucks has built their brand almost entirely by touch points… their stores.
One of the things that we talked a lot about with Bruyère was… where do people come in to contact with your brand and… what is their state of mind when they do so? Who here has ever dealt with Google face to face or over the phone? When you bring your car in for servicing and talk to a service advisor… that is a brand touch point. Take a look at how you can improve your brands touch points and how you can create new ones.
I like to call this last section… lessons learned and observed. We have seen the things that help build brands and the ones that cause a brand never to get out of the starting blocks.
The very first and most important people to get behind branding is your people. Their buy is absolutely critical before you do anything else. These are the people that will help get the work done by helping to shape your brand and become your first brand champions. We’ve worked with organizations that have been trying to do branding for years without any success and the reason is most often that they never got buy-in.
I think in order to get buy in you need to answer at least these questions and perhaps many more.
Brands are not developed in isolation and your people are an incredibly important resource… especially the ones who are on the front lines or… have been with the organization for a number of years.
Here are a few of the ways that you can involve your people. Build an internal team that can provide valuable input and different perspectives and help with the work load. Make sure that you are listening to people… give them the chance to provide honest opinions and feelings. With Bruyère some of the most valuable input came from nurses, volunteers and housekeeping staff.Find your brand champions and make sure you support them.
If the CEO is not supportive of branding it’s chances of success are severely limited. A brand is a top down and bottom up task. I have seen CEOs totally torpedo branding projects because they wouldn’t get behind it. The CEO of Bruyère Continuing Care, a fellow by the name of Jean Bartowiak is a huge reason why there were able to do what they did. So was their board of directors and chief of medical staff.
Knowledge is power and research will give you that.
If a branding program does not contribute to helping meet your corporate objectives then… why would you do it? Bruyère decided that branding could help with recruitment, retention and fundraising… we all knew that was the goal from the beginning.
don’t launch and then disappear look at everything from a branding perspective stick to it
It’s all about standing out from the crowd. Be prepared to lead the way.
There will be good days and bad days but always remember the important journey that you are on.
United Way of Canada Branding Presentation
United Way of Canada —Branding– An IntroductionStephen McGill President & Creative Director McGill Buckley Intercreative MarketingApril 25, 2009<br />
Presentation Overview<br /><ul><li> What Is A Brand?
Keys To Branding Success.</li></li></ul><li>Presentation Overview<br />Please feel free to ask questions at any time. <br />
What Is A Brand?<br />A brand is a collection of perceptions in the mind of the audience.<br />
What Is A Brand?<br />Your brand is not defined by what you think and feel it is defined by what your audiences think and feel.<br />"A brand is a collection of perceptions in the mind of the audience.”<br />
What Is A Brand?<br />A Brand Is Intangible.<br />"A brand is a collection of perceptions in the mind of the audience.”<br />
What Is A Brand?<br />A logo Is NOT a brand.<br />"A brand is a collection of perceptions in the mind of the audience.”<br />(Mind you… it is part of a brand)<br />
What Is A Brand?<br />"A brand is a collection of perceptions in the mind of the audience.”<br />A brand is built through the experience it offers.<br />
What Is A Brand?<br />A brand should reflect the culture of the organization.<br />"A brand is a collection of perceptions in the mind of the audience.”<br />A brand is built through the experience it offers.<br />
What Is A Brand?<br />To be remembered a brand must connect on an emotional level.<br />"A brand is a collection of perceptions in the mind of the audience.”<br />A brand is built through the experience it offers.<br />
What Is A Brand?<br />To be remembered a brand must connect on an emotional level.<br />A brand can be loved.<br />A brand can be not loved.<br />"A brand is a collection of perceptions in the mind of the audience.”<br />A brand is built through the experience it offers.<br />
What Is A Brand?<br />To be remembered a brand must connect on an emotional level.<br />A brand can be… not loved.<br />"A brand is a collection of perceptions in the mind of the audience.”<br />A brand is built through the experience it offers.<br />
What Is A Brand?<br />A brand can be one of an organizations biggest assets.<br />To be remembered a brand must connect on an emotional level.<br />A brand can be… not loved.<br />"A brand is a collection of perceptions in the mind of the audience.”<br />A brand is built through the experience it offers.<br />
What Is A Brand?<br />"As the economy slumps, an organizations’ brand can become its most solid asset.”<br />- Business Week/Interbrand Study<br />
What Is A Brand?<br />The Coca Cola Brand was recently valued at $67 Billion… <br />A brand can be… not loved.<br />"A brand is a collection of perceptions in the mind of the audience.”<br />A brand is built through the experience it offers.<br />… or, as much as all of their factories and <br />equipment put together.<br />
What Is A Brand?<br />Google is the fastest growing brand in the world… <br />A brand can be… not loved.<br />"A brand is a collection of perceptions in the mind of the audience.”<br />A brand is built through the experience it offers.<br />… now valued at over $25 billion.<br />
Your Reputation.</li></li></ul><li>Growing Your Brand<br />Step 1: <br />Learn As Much As You Can About What Your <br />Audiences Think. <br />(In Other Words… Do Plenty Of Research)<br /><ul><li> Qualitative
Look For New Opportunities.</li></li></ul><li>Unlocking Your Brand<br />
Keys To Branding Success<br />Getting Internal Buy-In Is Absolutely Critical In The Process Of Branding.<br />
Keys To Branding Success<br />Getting Internal Buy-In Is Absolutely Critical In The Process Of Branding.<br />Q: Why Are We Doing This?<br />Q: What Will The Benefits Be?<br />Q: How Will This Help Us?<br />
Keys To Branding Success<br />Involve Your People In The Process.<br />
Keys To Branding Success<br />Involve Your People In The Process.<br /><ul><li> Build An Internal Brand Team.
Identify And Support Your Brand Champions.</li></li></ul><li>Keys To Branding Success<br />Branding MUST Be Supported By Senior Management.<br />
Keys To Branding Success<br />Do Your Research.<br />It’s The Key To Understanding What People Think Of You. <br />
Keys To Branding Success<br />Match Your Branding Objectives To Your Objectives For The Organization.<br />
Keys To Branding Success<br />Make Branding A Long Term Commitment.<br />(Brands Are Not Built Overnight)<br />(Be Consistent)<br />
Keys To Branding Success<br />Develop Your Own Voice.<br />Develop Your Own Look. <br />(Don’t Be A “Me Too” Brand)<br />
Keys To Branding Success<br />Enjoy The Ride.<br />(Branding Can Be A Lot Of Fun… Really!)<br />
Thankfully… The End. <br />Thank You For Inviting Me Here Today. <br />Enjoy The Ride.<br />(Branding Can Be A Lot Of Fun… Really!)<br />Most Of All… Thank You For The Difference You Are Making In Our Communities Across Canada. <br />
Shameless Self Promotion<br />McGill Buckley is a bilingual integrated marketing agency with award-winning, peerless and frequently called upon talents in assisting companies and organizations plan and carry out clutter-cutting, brand-building marketing, communication and advertising programs.<br />
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