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What Is a For-Purpose Brand Identity?

Monday, 13th February 2017 at 4:22 pm
Staff Reporter,
Michael McGann from skydesign discusses for-purpose brand identity. Contact Michael to find out how skydesign can help you to realise and communicate your brand’s identity.

Monday, 13th February 2017
at 4:22 pm
Staff Reporter,



What Is a For-Purpose Brand Identity?
Monday, 13th February 2017 at 4:22 pm

Michael McGann from skydesign discusses for-purpose brand identity. Contact Michael to find out how skydesign can help you to realise and communicate your brand’s identity.

At the time of writing there are 54,712 charities and not-for-profit (for-purpose) organisations, registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission(ACNC). Standing out and increasing engagement is a major challenge for marketers and fundraisers of these for-purpose brands.

How can we improve engagement?

As consumers we know how we engage with marketing and fundraising. We typically

  • feel constantly bombarded by messaging designed to make us do, think or feel something
  • seek brands that match our values or allow us to say something about ourselves
  • want to have impact in the world and seek brands to help us make an impact
  • are cynical about marketing.

It therefore stands to reason that our donors and prospective donors (audience) engage with us, as marketers and fundraisers, in the same way.

Expressions of identity

Our organisation’s purpose reflects a worldview that we seek to share with people who can help us create change. As brands we are a repository of meaning and value that our audience interacts with to reflect their worldview. But, are we fully aware of the value and meaning that our supporters receive? To understand this we need to answer the following questions:

  1. Who is our audience?
  2. What makes them ideal?
  3. Who are we to them?
  4. What value do we bring to them?
  5. How will we manage our donors to ensure their positive experiences?
  6. What positive experiences will they have as our supporter?
  7. Can we articulate the ‘what’s in it for me (WIIFM)’ for our audience?

Importantly, our organisations are more than the value we bring to donors. We, and our predecessors, have created organisations that are infused with a personality and identity that influences our decisions about our purpose. Exposing and communicating this personality is, I believe, critical to building for-purpose brands that continue to deliver social impact.

Personality can be difficult to describe and we need to control the perception of our identity. To do this we need a system that allows us to describe ourselves in a way that connects with our donor’s core values and acts as a “shortcut” to achieving greater engagement. If there is such a system how might it work?

Think about some typical forms of advertising: sports cars are promoted showing power, wealth and independence; sports clothes promote the wearer as independent, powerful and heroic; health products promote the caring nature of their customer, and travel companies can promote escapism from our regular world or the personal growth that can occur when we explore the world.

These images tell a story about those brands and the people they are targeting. The imagery and language act as a “shortcut” to the personality the brand seeks to portray. Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung called these shortcuts archetypes and for-purpose organisations can use archetypes as easily as for-profit companies.


What is this system of archetypes?

The belief behind archetypes is that we have an innate understanding of human character, or archetypes, based on our shared history. For example, we understand what a mother is from birth and cultures throughout time and across the globe share myths and fairy tales.

Brands can also have archetypes. A brand archetype is an identity that you assign to your organisation allowing you to connect your brand to something that exists in the mind of you, the brand owner, and the public. Communicating an archetype makes your brand easier to identify, and the more identifiable the easier it is for a donor to choose you.

There are 12 primary archetypes that fit into four broad categories:

  • Those seeking paradise or a perfect world.
  • Those wanting to leave their mark on the world.
  • Those who seek to connect with, and gain relevance through recognition from others.
  • Those who seek to control or define how the world should be.

Identifying your archetype provides the frame for all of your communication, providing your team one voice that connects with your audience and allows them to feel connected to your social impact, making your successes their successes. This can lead to long-term and loyal supporters who are enriched by their association with you.Pro-bono-magazine-img4SA

For-purpose organisations are a collection of people who have come together because they share a common goal for society. Using archetypes to communicate your values allows your audience to see themselves reflected in you, to understand you and to make a choice to partner with you.

In the communication of social purpose, your archetype connects your mission and why you exist with who you are. It is the window through which your audience can engage and understand you on a conscious and unconscious level and it increases the potential for long term, committed partners.

If you’d like to know more about this concept of archetypes and how skysdesign works with charities and for-purpose organisations don’t hesitate to get in touch with Michael.

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