NICHOLS’ WORTH by
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,
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
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
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
7) You are only as good as your weakest link; do you know where
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"
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
2) Using technology to
better meet consumer expectations.
Watch for smart marketers to take advantage of unfulfilled
expectations via such values as "convenience" and
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.