The Importance of Making Eye Contact
I, like Carnac the Magnificent, can tell you the contents of 95 percent of the nonprofit solicitations that come in my mail each day — without opening the envelopes. Inside, there will be a two-page letter from the head of the organization with a lengthy, highly crafted explanation of what the organization is doing, which makes it abundantly clear that the need is more than urgent. There might be a petition for me to sign and send back for submission to Congress. There definitely will be a plea for money.
I further predict that I will not read the letters even though I believe the organizations are doing good work. I will, however, feel manipulated. And I will toss the often-unopened envelopes in the trash.
What about the other 5 percent? Those are always nice surprises. I look forward to getting Greenpeace mailings, for instance. I take its missives home to savor the clarity, honesty and confidence (writing and photography included) of the branding message. I get a charge every time -- so much so that I doubled my monthly donation recently when they called and asked.
When people are confused about what branding is — which happens every day — I bring up examples like Greenpeace, MoMA and the American Red Cross to show how clear branding can help push an organization forward and how fuzzy branding can impede it. I tell them branding doesn’t start with a great logo. It starts with a focused board, staff that is well led and motivated, all pulling together on a mutual quest to accomplish a well-defined and worthy mission. When you get a sense that those who run the organization have a realistic and innovative plan, that they aren’t just spinning their wheels, that’s when you have a great nonprofit brand.