Going Beyond the Logo
16 October 2013 at 9:40 am
Go ‘Beyond the Logo’ when branding a social enterprise according to the advice from the recent Branding Business Breakfast hosted by Social Traders.
Pro Bono Australia Journalist Nadia Boyce was at the event.
A recent Branding Business Breakfast saw Davidson Branding expert Sam Osborn talk to Not for Profit and Social Enterprise representatives about developing brands that speak to prospective customers and donors.
Osborn said brands could change the world – and for the better, particularly in the social sector.
He used the simple, rustic outline of an Oxfam logo drawn in chalk on a tree to illustrate his point. Yet he said there was much more to brands than its aesthetic representation.
“Branding’s all about going beyond the logo,” he said.
He told his audience to think of brands like people – as agents with behaviours and personalities.
“Those of you in the Not for Profit or Social Enterprise space might come across resistance to spending on marketing and communications,” he said.
“There’s a different level of sophistication, money and exposure to commercial and marketing practices.”
Investment in branding and marketing is critical, he added.
For social sector organisations constrained by resources, the investment could provide returns in the form of differentiation, communication of relevance and credibility beyond the reputation of a product or service.
Key criteria for growing brands in the Not for Profit and Social Enterprise Space
Osborn’s presentation was underpinned by seven key points to be addressed by social sector organisations in the course of any branding or rebranding exercise.
In the Not for Profit and Social Enterprise space where resources may be limited, Osborn said the most significant points to consider were:
Internal Communications and Stakeholder Management
Consider what might be done to manage resistance within your organisation to spending on marketing. Promote internal communication and think about how attractive your brand is as an ‘employer’ brand – one that is capable of keeping and attracting the best employees.
Make the best possible use of your partnerships. Ask how you can learn from your partners and where you are budget constrained, how you can use them to help give you a brand boost. Think about opportunities for co-branding and mutually beneficial sponsorship arrangements.
Think beyond your initial launch or strategy. Plan new projects and embrace ways of building and stretching your brand to keep it relevant, credible and unique in the long term.
Measure success and respond
Set goals and evaluate how well you reach them. These can be both qualitative and quantitative, but ensure there is a clear way to measure them. Think about how well the strategy performs in generating awareness, interest, desire and action in your target audience. Think about modifications to your brand’s behaviour or personality that may be necessary.
It was also crucial to understand the key messages you will deliver and the best ways of delivering them, Osborn said. The following criteria address this need:
Knowing who you are
Think about what the world would miss if your organisation did not exist. Capture the essence of what your brand is about, involving your organisation and senior leadership team in the process.
Knowing your key audience
Understand who your branding will primarily be aimed towards and focus on delivery to them.
Think about how messages can be communicated with punch. Aim for messages that are dynamic, relevant and memorable to your audience.
The session concluded with a brief panel discussion with representatives of Social Traders and FYA around some of the key issues social sector organisations might face in the branding process.
On the issue of leading with social benefit:
Where brands offer social good in addition to a product or service, the question of how aggressively to market social impact warrants consideration. In a competitive marketplace, social impact can provide differentiation but the product or service also needs to able to stand on its own.
The panel had no straight forward answer to give. The consensus was that the type of product or service offered would determine priorities. Organisations needed to judge how paramount it was to prove the quality of that service first.
On the issue of branding a parallel or secondary project:
Many social sector organisations are experimenting with a range of services and products. Not for Profits may be thinking of secondary social enterprise projects,while social enterprises may be thinking of scaling and expanding their range of goods and services offered.
In some cases, these streams may be divergent. An example used was a Not for Profit with a social model of healthcare provision that was expanding to create a parallel service with faster access for a fee.
The panel agreed the question to ask was whether the secondary services were directed at the same audience and communicated the same values and personality. Smart ‘brand architecture’ (or, in laymans terms, the structure of a brands and their sub-brands) could be put in place to best communicate the key messages about each product or service, but the risk to the existing brand should be considered if it was to be stretched to new projects.
There was consensus that inconsistency across collateral and products from the same organisation could damage its reputation. Whether or not services are branded under the same master brand, clarity and consistency is paramount.
On the issue of convincing your organisation:
The first step for Not for Profits or social enterprises to take in branding or rebranding is the get the senior leadership team and board understanding the process and the benefits.
With those involved, a discussion of the brand’s essence, personality and values should precede any formal creative steps.
The panel noted the process of involving many people could pose challenges – colleagues might subjectively buy into certain ideas around the look and feel of a brand that then became difficult to move away from.
However, they warned that this step should not be undertaken by an agency. While agencies may facilitate, those in the organisation who know the brand best were most suited to capture its qualities.
The takeaway of the session was that communication should underpin any organisation’s branding activities. This includes communicating an organisation’s value effectively to those who will value it in the marketplace, but also communicating why investment in achieving that is worthy to colleagues and leaders internally.