Sleepless in 2013?
JS: I’m going to make the blasphemous comment that I think for most charities that have a large, mass-marketing fundraising program, that is your branding program. I think Tom is absolutely right that sometimes mass marketing or fundraising becomes a four-letter word. I remember on one of my early jobs someone introduced me as the woman who was taking over the direct-mail department — “You know, the junk mail stuff. If you want your name off the list, you go to her.”
JS: And that was an HR person from the organization. And I think that what everyone finds out is that we put way too much thought and stock in organizations that are large and already seasoned, and that already have a great place and a great recognition and what their brand is.
I’ll actually use one of Russ Reid’s clients and a group that I absolutely admire, and that’s Operation Smile. Their brand is that they do surgeries for children with cleft palates around the world. And it’s their basis for fundraising. Fundraising came first; it came fabulously. It’s a very simple, clear message with a call to action, but it’s also their brand. And there’s no need to come in and try to change that or try to mess with it in organizations where your mass marketing program is your brand.
We did have one question [from an attendee], and that is to really just explain branding. That is a fantastic question because for the consumer package goods people, as Tom indicated, they get it. They live and breathe it. So Tom, do you want to share what you interpret as branding, maybe in the context of the for-profits and the not-for-profit world?
TH: Sure, Jo. I don’t have a business-school definition of brand; I wish I had one in front of me. I’m just going to kind of make this up. Branding is the experience that a constituent has with your organization. So it’s how you communicate to them and the entire experience of it. So, if you know Nordstrom … Nordstrom has a brand based on customer service. Everybody’s got a story about Nordstrom and how they got taken care of very well with them.