Nonprofit Performance 360 Issue 13

Nonprofit Executive Skills


Express Your Identity and Culture in Your Brand

As you’ve read in this magazine, there are many elements to successfully crafting your brand. For your brand to work, all of this must be based on your organization’s identity and culture, and make a desirable promise to your prospective members. What is Branding? Branding is the expectation of a certain experience. Members choose experiences that support their personal identity and reinforce their culture. Until prospective members can see themselves as part of your community, they can’t join and participate. This identity alignment happens through your branding exercise and the promise that branding elements create. Branding doesn’t work when the message misses the mark, and prospects will just fade away. Where Does Branding Come From? The history of branding goes back to the days when cattle ran free on the open range and owners would mark their herd with a hot branding iron. When the cowboys drove the livestock to market, buyers, over time, identified which cattle had better pasture, better care, better water, and therefore would taste superior. They would say, “I want that brand.” Branding delivers the promise of a certain experi- ence, therefore reducing purchase risk. Sometimes branding is inadvertent. As one Colorado native told me, “When we’d go to the Denver cattle

market, Grandpa would say, ‘We want the cattle with black on their backs, because they have come over the mountains from the West Slope and get sooty from the train ride. They’re the best beef in Colorado!’” When you have a clear and current vision of what attracts and keeps your members, you can then find more just like them to grow your organization, because proper branding gets your marketing message right. Learning Exercise: Think about your favorite brand. What experience expectations are they promising you? Is there is an implication of quality, is it up-to-date or traditional, what is the language, sensory experience, a promise of relief or joy? Identify the physical, emotional, and spiritual elements you think of when you consider your favorite brand. This is the same experience your members and prospective members consider consciously or unconsciously when they choose to participate with you. You’ve got to get this right.

The Six Elements of Branding Today, nonprofit branding is: 1. A member experience that 2. They value 3. They willingly pay for 4. They want to repeat 5. Is not available elsewhere 6. They’ll tell others about

44 I Nonprofit Performance Magazine

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