Some Important Thoughts about 21st Century Nonprofit Brand Management

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The Biochemist Artist /

January 18, 2014; Forbes

There are some interesting ideas in this interview with Nathalie Laidler-Kylander in Forbes on brand. She offers a framework to brand management that is based on:

  • “Brand Integrity [means] the internal identity of the organization is consistent with the image that external audiences hold.”
  • “Brand Democracy refers to a process that actively engages internal and external audiences in both defining and communicating the organization’s brand. It is this process that builds brand Integrity, harnessing the power of social media, and reducing the need for strict brand controls.”
  • “Brand Affinity leverages the brand to support collaboration and partnerships, working with other organizations toward shared goals in order to maximize social impact.”

The article provides a number of examples, but one of those she discusses is Save the Redwoods League, which she says incorporates “the concept of brand into everything they do. As a result, the brand becomes an effective filter for decision-making, helping the organization stay true to its mission and values. This isn’t done through strict control of the brand, but by engaging stakeholders and providing guidance and training. As a result, the organization has built trust with other organizations, resulting in more partnerships and projects.”

One of the more interesting pieces of advice is to “get comfortable with letting go of your urge to control your brand. Engage a variety of stakeholders in both the articulation and communication of the brand and start building both internal and external brand ambassadors. Provide guidance and support such that brand management becomes part of everyone’s job.”

For a deeper dive on the practices touched upon here, you can also look at “Building a Mission-Delivery System: Moving Your Website beyond the Web” by Carlo Cuesta—Ruth McCambridge

  • Carlo Cuesta

    We need to rethink how we develop and foster our brands as well. Part of the issue is that brands (for-profit/nonprofit) are typically built from the top down and inside out. Well guided brands have the potential of creating a shared mental model, a strong enough framework that can hold an organization’s narrative while simultaneously providing the opportunity for all stakeholders to reshape that narrative. Today, we no longer have to think of branding as a specific project that happens every five to seven years; instead it can be a daily practice that we master.