What it’s not…
• Style Manual
• Mission Statement
• Packaging, etc.
A brand is LARGER than all of the above…
What it is…
• A set of expectations and associations resulting from
experience with an organization, company, product or
• How your key constituents think and feel about what
The brand answers the question:
Why should I join, partner with, fund, work for, or listen
to this organization?
At the most basic level….
It’s about establishing
first a connection,
then a relationship,
with those most important
to your success.
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
– 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
Why is brand important*?
*in a non-profit setting
Consumers need brands
• They have too many choices
– from breakfast cereal to cable channel
– idealist.org lists over 93,000 organizations and over 17,000
– Charity Navigator evaluates “over 5,000 of America’s best-
• Choice is not always a good thing
– complicates our lives
– can cause people to “shut down” in the face of too many
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.”
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)
• 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,
– 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
• 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
“But building a brand for a
is so different from
building a corporate brand…”
Where it’s more challenging…
• Sometimes a higher organizational (and board) learning
• Often more limited resources (although the gap is
• 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
How do you build your brand?
• Your brand perception results from every single
experience or contact a person has with your
• You build that brand perception on four key
– 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
Keys to brand success
• Know yourself.
• Know your audience.
• Know your competition.
• Clarity, focus and repetition.
Brand strategy methodology
Internal External Brand Communications Creative
Discovery Discovery Strategy Plan Development
PRIMARY Master brand Recommended Visual identity
Visitor interviews messaging communications Collateral
Member interviews strategies: Web site
Individual 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
• Measurement and
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
– 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
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
• 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…
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 to
see real works of art in your own
“customer” is a • Having an impact on College
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 variety
new things and new • Occasionally taking a regularly) 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
• FACULTY AND LEADERSHIP
Faculty and • Passionate, • Finding opportunities • To understand the role • Our collections, programs and staff
staff dedicated to expose their and value of DMCC can help enrich the academic
individuals engaged students to real within the context of experience, and help create
in the broader works of art and new the College better students.
college community ways of thinking • To have greater • We share your high intellectual
• The ideal faculty/ • Keeping their work investment in, and standards and can be a valuable
staff “customer” is and teaching ownership of, DMCC partner in helping to differentiate
not limited to the art relevant/fresh and what it offers the Wellesley College
department • Occasionally taking • To see DMCC as a experience.
a break themselves valued resource and
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
• 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
Sample: Competitive profile
The Children’s Defense Fund is a child advocacy & research organization
Elevator 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 the
Mission 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 born
Brand The branding is minimal beyond the logo & tag line, both of which are
observations designed to stir emotion and rouse action
Mapping the brandscape:
Then…build the brand road map
• Context (why)
• 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
• Product brand platform
• Guidelines (what and how)
Sample: Umbrella brand platform
The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University discovers and disseminates knowledge of
Mission 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 North
Elevator 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
Open, accessible A thoughtful steward
Brand High standards of quality Highly collaborative across a variety of communities
Personality Knowledgeable Proactive
Engaged and engaging Thought leaders in research and horticulture
Brand Proof PLACE
Points • A beautiful treasured historic collection of trees
• Unparalleled depth, variety and quality
• 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
• An extensive and varied education program
How the pieces fit together:
Product brand platform
Name Historic Properties Collections Archives and Publications Educational Programs Preservation Services
Description 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 England's 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 Program
products Adult and family programs exhibitions Historic New England magazine Programs to Go! Homeowner services
and Special events House museum exhibits Books and exhibition catalogues Out of School Time Membership
services Retail operations Membership Web site Educators Resources
Function rentals Membership Membership
Positioning 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 SPNEA's 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
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
Aligning the brand hierarchy
Lutheran Social Services (LSS)
LSS Services for LSS Community LSS LSS Services for
sub-brands Children and Support Services International Older Adults
LSS SmartCare Nursing home & rehab
Services 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
Foster care for and training
Response - New
Find your common themes
• Framingham: A welcoming community (“where you start the
• 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
Then inventory your stories
• 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
• Framingham: An economic Mills; corporations then and now
engine for the region “Creative economy” effort
• Framingham’s place in the
history of the nation
Translating brand attitudes into action
Brand attitude (“”I WILL”) Employee actions (“I DO”)
• "I appreciate your • Greet the client with
business.” enthusiasm. Use the client's
• "I will devote my full • Focus on the client. Stop other
attention to your needs.” activities. Listen, and ask
• "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." client's time is valuable.
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
• 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
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
• Probably not at the most senior leadership level
(although they have to clearly sponsor and support
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
Build an integrated
communications plan to…
• Build awareness what you have to offer
• Generate leads/trial
• Keep 'em coming back for more!
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
• Competitive landscape (a brief overview of alternative options
available to your served populations and supporters)
• Communications goals (what you want your activities to
• Communications strategies (the high level ways you plan to
accomplish your goals)
• Communications tactics (specific activities you will engage in,
• Measurement and evaluation (how you plan to track results)
• Editorial calendar
• Communications calendar
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
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”)
Research • Brand Strategy • Communications Planning
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