Why is Branding Important to Non-profit Organizations?

Tax Professionals' Resource
March 15, 2013 — 1,422 views  
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The role of brands and the attitude to branding in non-profit organizations are starting to change. Some are still skeptical about branding because they think that it's just a fund raising tool. However, there are also a lot of people who are now embracing branding as a strategic tool to drive their social goals and to build internal capacity and cohesion. We need to have a better idea of the potential role of the non-profit brand.

The Function of Brand in the Non-Profit Sector

The function of brand in this sector is often seen to be cyclical and nested in the strategy and mission of non-profit organizations. An alignment of the external image and internal identity of the non-profit creates external trust and internal cohesion, resulting in a higher organizational impact and capacity. There are 4 principles involved in this framework – Brand Integrity, Brand Democracy, Brand Ethics, and Brand Affinity.

Brand integrity helps to bond the organization’s mission with the brand, and assists in aligning the brand image with the brand identity. The term 'integrity' refers to structural integrity rather than moral integrity. This integrity connects the identity and mission of the non-profit, giving everyone involved a sense of why it functions and how it is important.

Brand democracy refers to the trust placed by the non-profit organization in all its brand advocates who participate in communicating their understanding of the company’s core identity. Brand democracy replaces the need for control on the brand's presentation and portrayal to show consistency. Every member or participant becomes a brand ambassador and this concept extends outside traditional boundaries and includes anyone talking about the company.

Brand ethicsis how the brand and its deployment reflect the organization's core values. It aligns the brand image and identity with its core values and its organizational culture. Brand ethics seem to play a dual role by establishing an ethical brand and using it ethically.

Brand affinity refers to the ability of the brand to play well along side other firms, sharing credit and space, while promoting the collective rather than individual interests. A brand like this will attract collaborators and partners, as it gives some value to partnerships without exploiting the arrangement. A high-affinity brand means a brand which combines generously and smoothly with coalition members, collaborators and partners.

Advantages of Branding Principles

Studying in detail the branding strategies of organizations like World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Amnesty International, we can see their utilization of the above-mentioned branding principles. Also, campaigns like the Nike Foundation's 'The Girl Effect' and 'Publish What You Pay' (an NGO coalition campaign) portray to us how non-profit brands have used principles like brand democracy and brand affinity to push their boundaries and create a larger impact on the community. With respect to the branding principles, branding democracy is the hardest to develop, but it is necessary for the organization to create an impact and grow. The function of ethics is to ensure aligning of external image and internal identity. Brand recognition ensures to spread the brand further and create a change that is part of the non-profit's mission. Brands help the non-profit sector for creating clarity, simplicity, alignment, and identity, and the use of brands as a tool for decision-making.

Tax Professionals' Resource