SUMMARY: This seminal piece reveals how non-profits can use branding techniques in unique ways. Also how these can be used by for-profits. What are these so-called non-profit branding techniques? They revolve around creating a clearly stated values/mission statement and using great marketing techniques to communicate those both internally and externally to increase impact/change.
This compelling article, published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, is relevant to non-profits and for-profits alike. It reveals a role of branding which falls outside traditional parameters of “spreading the word externally” to “inspiring change/cohesion internally”. The authors, Nathalie Kylander and Christopher Stone, who conducted an extensive research study on the success/challenges of branding in non-profits with Harvard University’s Hauser Center for Non-Profit Organizations, and The Rockefeller Institute, come up with important views of branding which will inspire each of us to re-think the power of branding in the organizations we serve.
The essential difference in branding in for-profits vs non-profits is that, in for-profits, the end-game is new customers/revenues, whereas in non-profits, the goal is social impact/change. I would say that what unites the two is a goal to increase influence to allow change of any kind to occur (be it to get someone to buy a widget or get them to save water. (If we are working with organizations that “do good” in the world, non-profit or not, I would argue that all types of organizations are about positive social impact.)
The message from the article that rung true to me was linking the organization’s values with its branding so that they are communicated clearly. This will enable them to find collaborators/customers/converts. Organizations that aspire to create change need to focus on their values. Specifically, they need to both define their values with the help of their internal and external collaborators, and then communicate them both internally and externally via clear messaging.