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Stand Out From The Crowd: Research-Based Branding

My colleague Jayme Simoes and I had the pleasure of presenting at the sold-out NH Nonprofits Conference and Expo at the Grapponne Center in Concord yesterday. The conference offered a broad range of topics, with tracks on Fundraising, Marketing, Finance, Leadership & Governance, Operations & Technology and Human Resources and plenty of chances to network with colleagues and exhibitors.

We had some robust conversation in our session, “Stand Out From The Crowd: Research-Based Branding” – and we’ll be repeating the presentation at the PRSA Northeast District conference on June 7thin Providence. For those who missed us yesterday (or for those who want a preview of June 7th), here are a few highlights:

  1. A brand is a space in the mind. It’s more than a logo or a tagline; a brand is about the feelings and perceptions you stimulate when both internal and external audiences hear your name.

  2. Researchis key to the process; it can help you test words, phrases and visuals beforeyou roll out your branding campaign; create a baselinefor measuring your success and provide an opportunity for a mid-campaign checkwith key stakeholder groups to see if messages are resonating with them.

  3. Articulate your U.S.P. (Unique Selling Proposition)in your mission statement. Does your mission statement differentiate you from your competitors, or is it so “plain vanilla” that it could belong to anyone?

  4. Think strategically before you rebrand. There are plenty of “triggering events” that may cause you to consider a rebrand (e.g. merging with another organization, expanding or changing the products and services you offer or even an upcoming milestone anniversary). If you’re well-known and easily recognized, though, there’s no need to “throw the baby out with the bathwater” … a refresh of your brand may be enough. For the “serial rebranders” – you may be doing more harm than good by confusing your customers.

  5. How effective are your brand ambassadors? Is everyone in your internal family speaking with One Clear Voice? Take the “elevator speech” test – select any 3-5 people in your organization and ask them, independently, to describe what your organization does. Are they hitting on your key message points consistently?

Robin Schell, APR, Fellow PRSA

Senior Counsel and Partner

Jackson Jackson & Wagner

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