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What Is A Brand…And Why Does It Matter?


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This "brand 101" session is designed to help nonprofit leadership and board members understand the basic concepts around developing and maintaining a strong brand.

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What Is A Brand…And Why Does It Matter?

  1. 1. What Is A Brand… And Why Does It Matter? Michele Levy October 5, 2011A Service Of: Sponsored by:
  2. 2. INTEGRATED PLANNING Advising nonprofits in: • Strategy • Planning (617) 969-1881 • Organizational Development info@synthesispartnership.comA Service Of: Sponsored by:
  3. 3. Affordable collaborative data management in the cloud.A Service Of: Sponsored by:
  4. 4. Today‟s Speaker Michele Levy Brand Strategy Consultant, Brand Strategy ConsultingAssisting with chat questions: Hosting:April Hunt, Nonprofit Webinars Sam Frank, Synthesis PartnershipA Service Of: Sponsored by:
  5. 5. Agenda• First of all…what exactly is a brand?• You‟re really busy…why bother?• How do you build your brand?
  6. 6. What is a brand?
  7. 7. What it‟s not…• Logo• Tagline• Website• Style Manual• Mission Statement• Signage• Events/Conferences• Programs• Exhibits• Packaging, etc. A brand is LARGER than all of the above…
  8. 8. What it is…• A set of expectations and associations resulting from experience with an organization, company, product or service.• How your key constituents think and feel about what you do. The brand answers the question: Why should I join, partner with, fund, work for, or listen to this organization?
  9. 9. At the most basic level…. It‟s about establishing first a connection, then a relationship, with those most important to your success.
  10. 10. Beware the accidental brand…• There is no such thing as an “unbranded” organization, company, product, approach, etc. – There are some who proactively develop and manage their brands – There are some with low brand awareness – There are some (ok, many) that allow the marketplace to define their brand for them• Many organizations (especially nonprofits) have very positive brand perceptions across a small group of stakeholders who know them well – The challenge is to communicate more broadly and expand that group of stakeholders appropriately
  11. 11. Why is brand important*? *in a non-profit setting
  12. 12. Consumers need brands• They have too many choices – from breakfast cereal to cable channel – lists over 93,000 organizations and over 17,000 volunteer opportunities – Charity Navigator evaluates “over 5,000 of America‟s best- known charities”• Choice is not always a good thing – complicates our lives – can cause people to “shut down” in the face of too many options
  13. 13. The consumer challenge “Give me something where I can quickly understand a fundamentally different benefit, or I‟ll stick with what I‟ve got, thanks.”
  14. 14. A successful brand...• Defines how a product, service or organization is different from its competitors• Creates a personal experience for those who interact with it – contributes to their hopes, their personal identity – generates certain perceptions, attitudes and behaviors – enables fulfillment in their lives – continuously meets and exceeds their needs• Is relevant, believable, sustainable and consistent (and is inextricably linked to your mission)
  15. 15. Brand matters…INTERNALLY• A brand helps an organization maintain focus on those activities, initiatives and behaviors it values• It helps prioritize projects and programs (“…Is it on mission? On brand? Does it further the mission? Further the brand?”)• Helps an organization communicate both effectively, and efficiently – No „making it up” every time – Consistency = impact• Helps the organization attract, hire and retain the best people to advance its mission – Also applies to those invaluable volunteers
  16. 16. Brand matters…EXTERNALLY• A brand is the most visible articulation of an organization‟s strategy….it quickly tells people what the organization stands for, and where it‟s going – Helps cut through the clutter to get your message heard – It allows you to “claim your space” in a crowded, noisy market• Builds and maintains strong relationships with those most important to your success• In times of change (or crisis), gives internal and external supporters a touchstone, reassurance, and the tools they need to actively engage on your behalf
  17. 17. “But building a brand for a nonprofit organization is so different frombuilding a corporate brand…”
  18. 18. Not really.Where it‟s more challenging…• Sometimes a higher organizational (and board) learning curve• Often more limited resources (although the gap is certainly narrowing!)• Often highly diverse organizations• Less of an organizational emphasis on integrated marketing (as opposed to public relations, visitor services, development, publications…)Where it‟s actually easier (and more powerful)…• A brand is the sum of the stories people tell about you…and you certainly have stories!!• Also….fewer decisionmakers, more willingness to participate in the process, a passionate core
  19. 19. At the end of the day It‟s the same process.
  20. 20. How to strengthen your brand
  21. 21. How do you build your brand?• Your brand perception results from every single experience or contact a person has with your organization.• You build that brand perception on four key foundational elements: – A set of relevant, consistent core messages; – A visual brand identity (logo, fonts, color palette, imagery) that effectively (and efficiently) communicates the essence of your brand; – An agreed-upon set of consistent brand behaviors; – An integrated plan to communicate the brand across all touchpoints.
  22. 22. Keys to brand success• Know yourself.• Know your audience.• Know your competition.THEN…• Clarity, focus and repetition.
  23. 23. Brand strategy methodology Internal External Brand Communications Creative Discovery Discovery Strategy Plan Development PRIMARY Master brand Recommended Visual identity Visitor interviews messaging communications Collateral Strategy session Member interviews strategies: Web siteIndividual interviews Donor/funder interviews Product/service brand Advertising Focus groups Partner interviews hierarchy •Brand maintenance Signage Communications •Awareness tactics Direct mail, etc. audit SECONDARY Audience message •Lead gen tactics Competitive audit matrix •Relationship Secondary literature management tactics review •Communications calendar •Budget •Measurement and evaluation
  24. 24. First of all…who are you?• Develop (and instill!) a consistent elevator pitch – 30 second explanation of who you are and what you do – The answer to the question “What is (organization)?”• Clear, concise and interesting – WHO you are, WHAT you do, for WHOM.• Use your elevator pitch to win the right to tell more of your story (you don‟t need to tell the whole story in 30 seconds!) – Capture your listener‟s attention enough so that you can move into what makes you unique, how you do it, etc.• Create (and maintain) a consistent set of proof points and supporting statistics
  25. 25. Know your audience• Understand who they are, how they segment, how they view you, what they need/expect from you• All you need to do is ask (or have someone do it for you) – Phone interviews/focus groups with a combination of long-term and newer members and volunteers – Conversations with partners, the press, other external stakeholders• To think about… – They can‟t ALL be your most important audiences. – A relevant brand is NOT the same as trying to be all things to all people (and “following the funding” is one of the surest ways to muddle your brand) – In the words of Dorothy…
  26. 26. For example…Audience Description Audience key concerns Desired perceptions/behaviors Our messages to them • Highly driven, well- • Developing their • To understand the role • ALL rounded individuals ability to think more and value of DMCC • We are a valuable resource. • The ideal student broadly within the context of the • We offer the unique opportunity Students to see real works of art in your “customer” is a • Having an impact on College own backyard. visitor, and is not their community • To see DMCC as a • We can help bring new necessarily an art • Developing “real valued resource across perspectives to your studies, and major…but they are world” experiences a variety of dimensions to your hectic life. willing to explore • Getting it all done (and to utilize it • We are accessible across a new things and new • Occasionally taking a regularly) variety of channels (don‟t be ways of thinking break from getting it • To act as ambassadors intimidated!) all done! for DMCC within their • We are “safe haven”, extremely own spheres of supportive of experimentation. influence • We support experimentation and risk-taking. • FACULTY AND LEADERSHIPFaculty and • Passionate, • Finding opportunities • To understand the role • Our collections, programs andstaff dedicated to expose their and value of DMCC staff can help enrich the individuals engaged students to real within the context of academic experience, and help in the broader works of art and new the College create better students. college community ways of thinking • To have greater • We share your high intellectual • The ideal • Keeping their work investment in, and standards and can be a valuable faculty/staff and teaching ownership of, DMCC partner in helping to differentiate “customer” is not relevant/fresh and what it offers the Wellesley College limited to the art • Occasionally taking • To see DMCC as a experience. department a break themselves valued resource and collaborator
  27. 27. Know your competition• Yes, you have competition – At the very least, competition for resources: financial resources, in-kind donations, volunteers, etc.• Crucial to understand the alternatives that your supporters have for their time, money and attention• Evaluate the brand messaging across 4-6 competitive and/or peer organizations – Learn from their brand best practices, and mistakes. – Identify any apparent norms, and ensure a unique brand strategy• Combines a set of activities, including regular visits to competitive Web sites, attendance at events, asking your closest supporters what their competitive options are (and how they view those options)
  28. 28. Sample: Competitive profile The Children‟s Defense Fund is a child advocacy & research organizationElevator pitch which lobbies on behalf of children at the federal & state level. The Children‟s Defense Fund‟s Leave No Child Behind mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with theMission help of caring families and communities. Primary take-away: The CDF is a well-oiled advocacy machine dedicated to the well-being of the whole child–with special emphasis on those who are indigent, members of a minority group & disabled The entire site serves as an emotional plea for activism to anyone who cares about the welfare of America‟s children – to become informed, to get involved, to right the wrongs that children suffer today The presence of Marian Wright Edelman (founder & president) throughout gives credence to the CDF as carrying on the work of the civil rights movement out of which it was bornBrand The branding is minimal beyond the logo & tag line, both of which areobservations designed to stir emotion and rouse action
  29. 29. Mapping the brandscape: Visual brand TraditionalEvocative Descriptive Contemporary
  30. 30. Then…build the brand road map • Context (why) • Goals/Objectives • Competitive landscape • Audience insights • Brand promise (internal rallying cry) • Elevator pitch (external core message) • Proof points (reason to believe that elevator pitch) • Brand personality • Message matrix (approved versions of messages to be used as secondary points when talking with audience segments) • Product brand platform • Guidelines (what and how)
  31. 31. Sample: Umbrella brand platform The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University discovers and disseminates knowledge ofMission the plant kingdom to foster greater understanding, appreciation and stewardship of the Earth‟s botanical diversity and its essential value to humankind. This is accomplished through three areas of activity: Research, Horticulture and Education. The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University is the oldest public arboretum in NorthElevator pitch America, and one of the world‟s leading centers for the study of plants. A unique blend of beloved public landscape and respected research institution, we provide and support world-class research, horticulture and education programs that foster the understanding, appreciation and preservation of trees.Brand Promise An extraordinary collection of resources to inspire you along new paths of exploration and discovery. Open, accessible A thoughtful stewardBrand High standards of quality Highly collaborative across a variety of communitiesPersonality Knowledgeable Proactive Engaged and engaging Thought leaders in research and horticultureBrand Proof PLACEPoints • A beautiful treasured historic collection of trees • Unparalleled depth, variety and quality INSTITUTION • World-class facilities, staff and fellows • Access to the kinds of resources necessary to do meaningful international research • Committed to becoming a leader in the management and presentation of arboreta and historic landscapes • An extensive and varied education program
  32. 32. How the pieces fit together: Product brand platformName Historic Properties Collections Archives and Publications Educational Programs Preservation ServicesDescription 35 house museums and landscapes An extraordinarily broad collection of More than one million items that A series of nationally recognized A program built on partnership across a variety of time periods, more than 100,000 objects of document New Englands school and youth programs that use between property owners and architectural styles and geographic historical and aesthetic significance, architectural and cultural history. The historical resources to reinforce and SPNEA, with a shared goal of locations family heirlooms presented in their archival collections include enrich student learning. protecting the unique character of original context, and accessible photographs, prints and engravings, historic properties throughout New through the extensive study architectural drawings, books, England. collection manuscripts, and ephemera.Supporting House and landscape tours Local, regional and national traveling Library and Archives services Museum field trips Stewardship Programproducts Adult and family programs exhibitions Historic New England magazine Programs to Go! Homeowner servicesand Special events House museum exhibits Books and exhibition catalogues Out of School Time Membershipservices Retail operations Membership Web site Educators Resources Function rentals Membership Membership MembershipPositioning The most comprehensive collection The largest assemblage of New The premier resource for researchers Programs that are fun, multi- As one of the first preservation of homes and properties in New England art and artifacts in the of New England history. disciplinary, and suited to a variety of restriction programs in the country, England, with a uniquely thorough country. learning styles. They allow young SPNEAs Stewardship Program is the and authentic approach to presenting people to learn through a variety of model on which many other the stories of those who lived there. approaches and include hands-on programs are based. activities, role-playing, and cooperative learning.Promise Experience, in a very real and Develop a real understanding of the Personally access a wealth of Discover the entertaining side of Let the experts show you how to intimate way, the lives and stories of heritage of New England through the information on the people and events history…the people and stories who preserve your historic property and the individuals and families who have possessions of those who lived here. that defined the history of New have made your neighborhood, architectural details for the enjoyment made New England what it is today. England. Let that knowledge inform community, etc. what it is today. and education of current and future opinion and policy to shape the Learn how, by understanding our generations. region‟s future. shared past, we can build a better future.
  33. 33. Aligning the brand hierarchy MASTER BRAND Lutheran Social Services (LSS) LSS Services for LSS Community LSS LSS Services forSubsidiarysub-brands Children and Support Services International Older Adults Families Services LSS SmartCare Nursing home & rehabServices LSS Good News Assisted living LSS Adoption Refugee resettlement Garage Low income housing Specialized foster Immigrant services Developmental In-home services care Asylee legal assistance services Case management Teen residential ESOL Mental health services Alzheimers/dementia Transitional teen LSS LanguageBank Deaf services services living Job placement, education Lutheran Disaster Foster care for and training Response - New refugee children England Shelter care Congregation Relations
  34. 34. Find your common themes• Framingham: A welcoming community (“where you start the American dream”)• Framingham: The classic American middle-class town/the power of diversity• Framingham: A vital crossroads• Framingham: A tradition of volunteerism• Framingham: An economic engine for the region• Framingham‟s place in the history of the nation
  35. 35. Then inventory your stories Campinelli• Framingham: A welcoming First Catholic church community (“where you start the Immigrants then and now American dream”) Refugees• Framingham: The classic Academy American middle class town/the Clinton visit power of diversity• Framingham: A vital crossroads Railways, water, highways• Framingham: A tradition of Heart Study, militia, veterans volunteerism• Framingham: An economic Mills; corporations then and now engine for the region “Creative economy” effort Bonnets• Framingham‟s place in the history of the nation
  36. 36. Translating brand attitudes into action Brand attitude (“”I WILL”) Employee actions (“I DO”) • "I appreciate your • Greet the client with business.” enthusiasm. Use the clients name. • "I will devote my full • Focus on the client. Stop other attention to your needs.” activities. Listen, and ask clarifying questions. • "I will take ownership of • Transfer the client no more your needs.” than once; the first transfer will own the issue. • "I will be knowledgeable • Provide the client with insight and professional.” and information to help him achieve his goals. • "I will be responsive to • Fulfill commitments in a timely your questions and fashion. Recognize that the requests." clients time is valuable.
  37. 37. A quick sidebar on consistency • Consistency = impact • Think about it…if your communications are not consistent (look and feel, as well as tone and messaging), you are reintroducing yourself every single time • There is room for variety, for versioning by type of product, by audience, etc. – But there has to be a master plan! • Consistency is NOT boring for your stakeholders – One of the biggest mistakes organizations make? They get bored with their brand and want to change it
  38. 38. Behind every strong brand,there‟s a brand champion• SOMEONE with the vision and clout to make it really happen…and keep it happening• SOMEONE who owns the brand and cares passionately about its successful development and maintenance• Probably not at the most senior leadership level (although they have to clearly sponsor and support the effort)
  39. 39. Now tell your brand story…• An effective communications plan is: – Targeted….you‟re not wasting money reaching people not in your target audience – Holistic…”surrounding” that target with a variety of media likely to reach them – Compelling….with a strong call to action – Integrated….reflected across all your touchpoints – Measurable…grounded in strategic goals and evaluated against those goals
  40. 40. Build an integratedcommunications plan to…• Build awareness what you have to offer• Generate leads/trial• Keep em coming back for more!
  41. 41. Sample: Plan table of contents• Brand blueprint (elevator pitch, message matrix, proof points, brand attributes, etc.)• Target audience (who your audience segments are, their needs and expectations)• Competitive landscape (a brief overview of alternative options available to your served populations and supporters)• Communications goals (what you want your activities to accomplish)• Communications strategies (the high level ways you plan to accomplish your goals)• Communications tactics (specific activities you will engage in, with timing)• Measurement and evaluation (how you plan to track results)• Budget• Editorial calendar• Communications calendar
  42. 42. Does your brand need therapy?• Are you changing your strategy as an institution?• Is your core constituency changing?• Are there seismic market shifts?• If you ask 10 people in your organization “what is (your name here)?”, how many different answers would you get?• Can everyone in your organization explain how all the pieces (programs and services) fit together?• Do you feel like you‟re the best kept secret in town?• Do you feel like people know that you exist, but not why you matter?• If you put all of your collateral on a table, would it look like it came from the same place? Is it consistent with the look and feel of your web site?• Do you have “dueling logos?”• Is your logo easy to use?• Do you have brand guidelines that are consistently used by everyone creating communications?
  43. 43. Start with the basics• Talk the talk…consistent language and messaging• Set the standards…brand style guidelines• Walk the walk…make sure everyone delivers across every touchpoint (especially the further out you get from “home base”)
  44. 44. Thank you!Michele LevyResearch • Brand Strategy • Communications
  45. 45. Find listings for our current season of webinars and register at: NonprofitWebinars.comA Service Of: Sponsored by: