Why not-for-profit organisations have an advantage over the corporate sector when it comes to building a strong brand

August 2015

Firstly, what is a brand?

A brand is not your logo, your advertisements, your product or service, or any individual element of your organisation.  A brand is that feeling people get when they come into contact with any part of your organisation.  So when they come into contact with any aspect of your organisation – whether that’s seeing your logo, experiencing your customer service, the look of your brochures – any touchpoint to your organisation, the feelings that they have about your organisation is what determines your brand.  Your logo is simply a visual representation that symbolises your brand.  It acts as a reminder to people of your brand.

Everything has a brand – individual people, towns, cities, regions, countries.  A brand is determined by a number of impressions over time, so are based on who you are most of the time.  When you act in a consistent manner, people start to develop similar impressions of you.  When we think about a certain brand such as the Red Cross many of us think along similar lines – humanitarian, life saving, trustworthy, established, health workers.  These thoughts are what determines the organisations brand.

So why do not-for-profit organisations have an advantage when it comes to building a brand?

Branding is all about making an emotional connection with people.  A strong brand is one that allows us to connect with people’s hearts and minds.  Charities, the social services sector, other not-for-profit organisations are in the business of saving lives, changing lives, transforming lives, improving society in some way.  These organisations therefore have the ingredients needed to make emotional connections with people and build strong brands.