Branding Strategies Revealed
All nonprofit organizations are marketing organizations in that they use marketing activities to get prospects to become members, supporters or donors. An organization can’t market itself well without an understanding of its brand strategy, e.g., its market position, what differentiates it, etc. This is the focus of “7 Secrets to Branding in the Nonprofit Organization,” a white paper by Michael DiFrisco, founder of BrandXcellence, a firm that provides brand-strategy workshops and solutions to nonprofit organizations.
Operating without a brand strategy in place is like trying to build your organization on shifting sand, DiFrisco writes. Organizations and businesses alike waste billions of dollars on ineffective marketing efforts. To determine if your organization is leaking marketing dollars or lacking a unified brand, DiFrisco recommends asking yourself the following questions:
1. Does your organization encourage an understanding of what DiFrisco calls your “differentiating factor,” i.e., what you do better than other organizations?
2. Do those with supporter contact within your organization have a solid understanding of your organization, its strengths, etc?
3. Do you have a mission statement and a vision; does your staff — from top to bottom — know and embrace your mission and vision?
4. Do your goals align with your strengths, mission and vision?
5. Does your organization have a tag line or slogan that communicates your mission and values; is it memorable and original?
6. Can you explain the essence of your brand in an elevator speech, i.e., in the time span of an elevator ride?
7. Do your constituents understand what it is you do, how to join, how to make a contribution, etc.?
8. Does your organization have a recognizable personality and is it conveyed through your marketing efforts and constituent touches?
9. Is your organization living its brand every day and enriching it on an ongoing basis?
If you answer no to any of these questions, DiFrisco recommends a brand-strategy review. A focused brand strategy will help an organization establish a vision of its promise to constituents; differentiate itself from other organizations; develop a supporter-friendly structure in which its brand exists; increase awareness and value of its mission; bring clarity to marketing and fundraising efforts; and motivate employees, board members, volunteers and all stakeholders.
DiFrisco recommends the following steps to establishing a brand strategy:
1. Establish your organization’s vision and mission — vision being a mental image that describes your organization and mission being the “special assignment,” as DiFrisco explains it, that your organization has taken on.
2. Assess where your brand is today. Ask questions: What does your organization specialize in? What do you currently offer? Who is your target audience? What do they think about your current brand? “What would you like them to think about your brand? Who else is competing for their loyalty?
3. Define where you would like it to be. Establish goals for your organization for one year, five years, ten years. Your brand is not what you say it is. It is defined by your constituents. Therefore, in order to create a brand you must understand the needs and wants of those constituents. DiFrisco says the success of your organization is proportional to how well you acknowledge what constituents want and how well you apply your organization’s strengths and values to your brand message.
4. Define your brand essence. To do this, come up with a list of all the services your organization offers. Then list fundamental needs that are met by these services. What is the one thing that ties all of them together? This is your organization’s brand essence, DiFrisco writes, the point that will focus your brand messaging.
5. Establish your voice and tone. What is your brand’s personality? Serious? Rebellious? Smart? Once you establish your voice and tone, be sure they are conveyed consistently in all of your touches.
To contact Michael DiFrisco, or to access the complete white paper: www.brandxcellence.com/7brandsecrets