Branding: It’s More Than Just a Logo
Understanding what a brand is, why it’s important and how to create, change or evaluate the success of it is vital for every organization. In his session, “How to Brand Your Organization,” at the Bridge Conference in Washington, D.C., last week, Joel Zimmerman, director of consulting services at CDR Fundraising Group, a provider of integrated fundraising services, walked attendees through the ins and outs of branding.
Zimmerman first looked at what a brand is, describing it as the stereotypical reaction people have to your organization. A brand evokes information (what do I know about them?), emotion (do I like them?) and expectations (should I bother?). An organization is branded after the first time a person encounters it.
But a brand is more than just a logo; it’s those special things that set an organization apart from all others. Zimmerman said there are two ways an organization can get its brand: actively and passively. You can actively give people information and engineer their reactions to it, or you can passively sit back and wait for people to brand you themselves.
In the session, Zimmerman recommended organizations follow his brand-development exercise to evaluate an existing brand or develop a new one, and walked us through these 11 steps:
1. Branding concept. List one to six core concepts for your stereotype. They should reiterate — and go beyond — your mission and vision statements. Think about the major, most immediate associations you are trying to build.
2. The audience. Your audience needs to see value in each of your branding concepts, and this will tell you how to target your messages.
3. The client. What needs do you fulfill that bring you clients? What needs do you fulfill that inspire donors and volunteers? This will help you see how to pitch the message to your audiences.