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  Branding Your Organization for Sustained Growth Potpourri

Canadian FundRaiserGeneration XMY NICHOLS’ WORTH by Judith Nichols
Branding Your Organization for Sustained Growth

Charitable choices are less about the organization and more about the donor. For more and more consumers, the purchase decision has become less about product selection and more about lifestyle choice. The power of a truly great brand is its ability to beguile us and, in some cases, to define, at least in part, who we are, notes Dayton Fandray in "A Brand New You" in the May 2006 issue of Continental magazine.

Brands continue to evolve in the mindset of the consumer, with emotional connections tying consumers more tightly to brand preferences. The strength of a brand’s image, style, and quality give us the desire to buy into the lifestyle evoked by the brand, a lifestyle we want to make our own.
Chief Marketer, February 7, 2006] (http://chiefmarketer.com/design_trends_01262006/index.html).

Ken Burnett, in the Zen of Fundraising (Jossey Bass 2006
), defines a nonprofit’s brand as "the set of ideas, images, feelings, beliefs, and values that are carried around in a person’s head." But unlike the commercial world, where buyers and sellers partake in a relationship of shared commercial interest, donors and fundraisers enjoy a relationship of shared conviction.

A great (nonprofit) brand taps into emotions. Emotions drive most, if not all, of our decisions. A brand reaches out with a powerful connecting experience. It’s an emotional connection point that transcends the product. A great brand is a story that’s never completely told. A brand is a metaphorical story that connects with something very deep – a fundamental appreciation of mythology. Stories create the emotional context that people need in order to locate themselves in a larger experience. A New Brand World, Scott Bedbury

A contributor to the growth of branding awareness is the realization that consumers and donors have more access to more information than ever before. In fact, this abundance of information means we have too much to process -- and this is exactly what makes branding relevant. As Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson state in their book, Age of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion (Henry Holt 2001), we are "cognitive misers"; we try to preserve our cognitive energy. To put it bluntly, we try to avoid thinking. And because we do this, we use branding (and need branding, I believe) to help us simplify decision-making. "Forget the’Omniscient Buyer’—Branding Still Works", Wayne E. Pollard, Chief Marketer, January 14, 2006 http://chiefmarketer.com/omnisicent_buyer_01142006/index.html.

Cutting through the information clutter and facilitating customer relationships is vital to effectively marketing your brand in the new "attention economy." This is placing an escalating premium on consumer attention--which, in turn, is making attention itself the new common currency for modern marketing. With all of this information swirling around and consumer attention being what all marketers are seeking, the industry has to be aware of the clutter line -- or breaking point. It is at this point that consumers might begin to tune out all the clutter, including your marketing message.

The 10 New Rules of Branding are:

1) Brands that influence culture sell more; culture is the new catalyst for growth.
2) A brand with no point of view has no point; full-flavor branding is in, vanilla is out.
3) Today's consumer is leading from the front; this is the smartest generation ever to have walked the planet.
4) Customize wherever and whenever you can; customization is tomorrow's killer whale.
5) Forget the transaction, just give me an experience; the mandate is simple: Wow them every day, every way.
6) Deliver clarity at point of purchase; be obsessive about presentation.
7) You are only as good as your weakest link; do you know where you're vulnerable?
8) Social responsibility is no longer an option; what's your cause, what's your contribution?
9) Pulse, pace, and passion really make a difference; had your heartbeat checked recently?
10) Innovation is the new boardroom favorite.

"Simon Williams: The 10 New Rules of Branding" By Tim Parry, Chief Marketer, November 15, 2005.

How can your organization ensure branding success? According to Dr. Robert Passikoff, writing in Chief Marketer, December 14, 2005, "The Five Keys to Branding Success in 2006" are:

1) An emphasis on "engagement."

Engagement is defined as the outcome of ad and marketing activities that substantively increases a brand's strength in the eyes of the consumers (and actually predicts sales and profitability).

2) Using technology to better meet consumer expectations.
Watch for smart marketers to take advantage of unfulfilled expectations via such values as "convenience" and "customization."

3) Expanding the potential of Web sites and blogs. Watch for increased development of blogs and Web sites in general beyond propaganda, information, and use as an electronic cash register, toward the creation of instant demand for new products and services.

4) "Recombinant" experiences.
Marketers concerned with engagement will close their eyes to "appropriateness" and leverage online gaming as an acceptable venue for virtually every brand.

5) More branded entertainment.
Popular culture, with its rabid consumption of music and technology, will see market and brand leaders leverage plug-ins as a method for customizing entertainment and selling products.

Unfortunately, there are four all-too-common roadblocks to effective fundraising according to Timothy Burgess, co-founder of the Domain Group, writing in the March/April 2004 issue of Fund Raising Success magazine. Burgess says they include:

1. Failure to identify your brand promise. Solidify the connection in your donors’ minds regarding your "promise" and your organization. Tell your donors what their gifts are accomplishing.

2. Failure to achieve message consistency. There needs to be one consistent and fully integrated message from your organization. Communicating different messages dilutes the message, confuses donors and reduces effectiveness.

3. Failure to "impassion" prospects. Communicate to donors’ hearts; rouse their emotions, and you will be more effective than if you only meet the knowledge expectations of donors. Do both.

4. Failure to understand fundraising metrics. Higher donor loyalty is the engine that will drive your net revenues to higher levels, make your job more productive and help you receive a higher allocation of limited donor resources from fundraising.

Finally, remember that a strong, mature brand isn’t a static asset. The older and more established the brand is, the harder it is for marketers to avoid assuming that everyone understands their brand and what it stands for. "The Key To Revitalizing a Mature Brand", Hampton Bridwell, Chief Marketer, March 3, 2006 (http://chiefmarketer.com/revitalizing_mature_brand_03032006/).

Your brand must be cared for and nurtured, kept fresh, dynamic, relevant, and at top of mind while retaining its unmistakable identity and heritage. This balancing act is the challenge, but also the opportunity, presented by a mature brand. What really counts is how your brand comes across to your donors and prospects. You may be too close to tell. This is where inertia can really hurt your efforts.

Canadian FundRaiser
Canadian FundRaiserSince 1991, the Canadian FundRaiser™ newsletter has been updating nonprofit managers twice-monthly on news, trends, tips and analysis of developments in the fields of fundraising and nonprofit management.

Our service, originally simply a twice-monthly newsletter, has expanded over the years to include workshops, books, back-issue search and Special Advisories for our member/subscribers. And the complete package is now the Canadian FundRaiser™ Nonprofit Sector Management Information Service.

Current Members can search back issues here, renew their Membership, or correct their address information in our secure files.

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Please take a look at the current issue of Canadian FundRaiser™ eNews, and if you haven’t done so already, sign up ­ at no cost ­ to receive future issues. Visit our Key-To-The-Sector Workshop Centre. Ask about Advertising & Sponsorship opportunities. Or send us an article suggestion. We’re waiting to hear from you.

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