Marketing & Communications Centre > Marketing Essentials > Help Sheets > Marketing Your Image

Marketing Your Image

For many not for profit organisations and community groups, being able to develop and then promote a good image is vital.

In fact, a good, strong image can be one of the most important "currencies" a community group or not-for-profit can possess – and can make a lot of difference when it comes to gaining support, attracting people's help or influencing public opinion.

It also goes a long way towards increasing the public's recognition of your organisation; what it stands for and what it does. Think about your reaction when you see the Salvation Army Shield or the Red Cross.

Why you should market your image

Some reasons you should market your image:
  • Brings public perception of your group in line with what you want it to be.
    • Through marketing, the messages linked to your image are put out into the public arena.
    • And because those messages are what you want to share with the public, a well established image helps get the public to align their view of your group with yours.
  • It clarifies your goals and gives your supporters, volunteers and stakeholders expectations and direction.
    • If your image is marketed widely, those who come into contact with your group will have certain expectations and give those linked to your group something to aim for - both to meet public expectations and to fulfil the image being marketed to the public.
  • It can help unify disparate parts of your activities or messages.
    • Being able to use your image as the basis for elements of your marketing can help you "glue" different parts of your activities together.
    • For example, if your group's image is one of working towards cleaning, protecting and beautifying the local waterway, then that image can provide a focus to guide your volunteer activities, lobbying work, fundraising events, etc.
  • It increases recognition and differentiates your group from similar organisations.
    • It creates a kind of "shorthand for what you stand for.
        For example, if your cricket club's image centres on encouraging emerging or young cricket talent, marketing that image would see:
        • Your club's name become better known to the public,
        • Your club's image then becomes associated with your club itself. A type of "shorthand relationship" is produced between club and image – "Bloggsville Cricket Club, aren't they the ones with the real good junior cricket program?"
        • This sort of relationship between club and image can be further strengthened through branding.

Images and branding – good and bad

Marketing your image is, in many ways, related to the concept of branding. For more information on branding, refer to the help sheets Branding Your Community Group, part 1 and part 2, available at the Media & Marketing Centre.

Branding is designed to set your group 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.

The most common forms of branding are logos or catchphrases -the "golden arches logo" (McDonalds), the "panda logo" (World Wildlife Fund for Nature) or the "just do it" slogan (Nike).

With that branding also comes an almost unconscious link between company name/logo/slogan and its image.

This link can be hugely beneficial for an organisation.  As an example: the public instantly associate the panda logo with the WWF, and then the WWF with its work in the protection and conservation of wildlife. Successful branding means the WWF doesn't have to spend time explaining what it does - people who see the panda logo know what it stands for.

However, this branding can also create unwanted associations - for example, McDonalds' golden arches are often associated with stories about junk food and obesity, while Nike's slogan and "swoosh" symbol have become a trademark for controversy by some, over the issue of sweatshop labour to manufacture goods.

How to market your image

The first step to marketing your image is to ensure you have an image to market.

If your group doesn't have a public image, then the first step is to develop one as part of wider marketing strategy.  For information on this, refer to the help sheetsDeveloping a Marketing Plan – Starting Out, and Developing a Marketing Plan – Eight Steps, both available at the Media & Marketing Centre

Once you have an image to market, there are a number of ways this can be done:
  • Have a central message, and define it.
    • Develop a statement - a paragraph or a couple of sentences that explain what you do, what you aim for and how your group tries to achieve it. This will help clarify what you want your image to be.
  • Make sure everyone linked to your organisation are familiar with your image (and the messages that go along with it), and are willing and able to promote it.
    • If your supporters, volunteers and others working for your organisation embody your group's image it will, in effect, be marketed each time a contact is made with anyone involved with your group.
  • Have any logos or slogans link in with the image you wish to spread.
    • In the example of the cricket club that encourages emerging or young cricket talent, its logo and catchphrase should also fit with its image.
      • That could be done using a logo featuring a younger cricketer or with a slogan like "Home of the best young cricketers in…"
      • Make sure you do not use third parties' logos without the relevant third party's written permission.
  • Get involved in activities that are compatible with your image.
    • When something is happening in your community or sector that fits with the image you want your group to project, you need to get involved.
    • This helps market your group and the image you want it to reflect within the community.
      • For example - the cricket club we mentioned earlier should make sure it's involved in any kanga or junior cricket programs, and any cricket clinics, camps, coaching or training courses that might be happening.
    • Your group should try to avoid commenting on issues or taking part in activities that are completely unrelated to what you do or the image you want to have in the public eye.
      • The cricket club making remarks on the state of federal politics is an example of commenting on issues unrelated to its activities or the image it is working to develop.
  • Speak out on things that concern you and relate back to your image.
    • If an issue directly relates to your group or organisation (for example, a proposed law change or decision being made by a government authority) you should be ready and willing to express an opinion on it.
    • Commenting on relevant issues helps market your image.  Being able to publicly highlight your group's position or opinion on issues raises your profile and helps portray a strong image to the public.
      • Using the cricket club again as an example, it should be willing to speak out if there was a major rule change mooted, or if there are problems with the facilities it uses.
    • Developing a viewpoint on an issue and then commenting on it can be a part of your group's media strategy. For more information, refer to the Media - Preparing a Winning Strategy section of the Media & Marketing Centre.

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