Marketing & Communications Centre > Marketing Essentials > Help Sheets > Branding Your Community Group - Part 1

Branding your Community Group - Part 1

Branding: An Introduction

Branding - we know it when we see it.

We see the swoosh, and we know it's Nike. The giant M means McDonalds. The italic flowing script on a red soft drink can – Coca-Cola.

It's like an unconscious association between symbol and brand name – and it is brought about by strong and savvy branding.

Branding has given the companies mentioned earlier – and many more besides – a distinct advantage in their own competitive sectors of the marketplace.

But branding isn't just limited to big companies or multinational corporations - as competition for the donation/sponsorship/fundraising dollar increases, branding's importance is increasing for community organisations, not-for-profits and charities.

With a strong brand comes more opportunities to increase your organisation's share of these dollars. Examples of strong brands in the charity or not-for-profit sector include The World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), the Salvation Army and the National Heart Foundation.

These organisations have enjoyed consistent performance. As part of that performance, and with smart marketing, they have developed such strong brands that their names and sometimes even just their logos are enough to have people associate them with the good works they do, and to trigger a readiness to donate or – at the least – support.

A brand can help a community group:
  • define itself;
  • say what it stands for, and
  • present its value to the community it serves.
A strong brand identity can take on a life of its own and become a magnet to draw people to your organisation.

Branding isn't just for large organisations, with a bit of work smaller community-based gorups can brand themselves successfully.

What Branding Does

Branding is something which is designed to set your group or organisation and its activities and services apart from similar groups, as well as establishing an image of the organisation in the mind of donors, clients, constituents, volunteers, and others.

Your organisation needs to remember that branding is more than just deciding to give yourself a catchy name or attractive logo, changing your letterhead and producing a few pamphlets.

Branding is about getting to the stage where a mere mention of your name instantly triggers a mental picture of your organisation, what it stands for and the positive work it performs.

Branding has been described as a synthesis of market positioning, identity, image, and messaging that taken together has the power to influence people's decision to give to your organisation, participate in your programs, invest in your capital campaign, buy your event tickets and read your newsletter.

What a Brand Is

  • A brand begins with a mission, and your mission statement.
    • Make your mission obvious, simple, memorable. If you bailed up a random member, a staff member, or even a Board member, would they be able to recite it? If they can't, you need either a new training and induction program or a new mission statement.
  • A brand invites others to help "a larger movement".
    • Inspire people to make a difference. You must help your supporters understand that by giving their time and money to your organisation they are part of a larger movement.
    • Make the connection. A brand reaches out with that kind of powerful connecting experience that goes beyond your immediate product and connects with what your consumers want to believe is the best about themselves.
  • A brand is consistent.
    • Reflect your brand in everything you do. The "brand" is both seen and felt - seen in your publications, and identified with the work you do.
    • One big "package". Your brand must maintain consistency. It doesn't matter whether people are reading about you in the local paper, going to your web site, visiting your offices, or speaking to your volunteers, the information provided should be the same.
    • Consistent look and feel to what you do and produce. Don't follow any trend or develop new products or services that don't fit your vision.
Part 2 of this help sheet – available by Clicking Here – will help your community organisation or group build its brand.

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