Building a brand that delivers: the wishes

By Jenni Bacon

The results of the Spencer du Bois brand wish-tree are in!

At our recent CharityComms brand conference, we asked brand managers and communications professionals to tell us their hopes and fears for their brands over the next 12 months.

Of the 33 wishes, the majority focussed on a hope for an immediate awareness: reaching more people, and the public.

“I hope our brand will grow to be so popular with the general public we are on Premier League football shirts!”

Interestingly, while instant recognition was the top wish, many wishes also hoped to transparently communicate the charity’s ethics. Simplicity and clarity of principles were key aspirations.

Our wishers wanted what everyone wants of their brand: to be clear, to be targeted, to be meaningful. But the not-for-profit world has high expectations of brand. They want to inspire as well; they want deep emotional engagement; they want it to help them achieve their vision.

And some want to solve problems or make a difference inside their organisations:

“I hope we can bring brand and fundraising together in a happy harmony…”

The interesting tension between fundraising and brand was evident in the kind of challenges people wrote about: retaining brand values or principles while at the same time gaining financial support, perhaps through fundraising methods at odds with those values.

But it was ‘investment’ that topped the list of 16 fears and challenges. Concerns were based on a fear of not securing the funding needed to build the brand, leading to serious consequences for organisations:

“That long term investment will not be secured and our presence will reduce.”

Related to this fear surely, were the challenges related to internal resistance and lack of support from staff/stakeholders. Internal fears about brand and reputation can be challenging obstacles indeed: “fears of ‘thinking big’ when on a low budget”, “…fear of risk…”

We certainly recognise them. But we know they can be overcome. And we're fully in support of whoever had this wish:

                  “To lift our brand to dizzy, new innovative heights!”

Brand has to work hard for not-for-profit organisations, and it needs positive, imaginative and driven people to make sure it does. So in the end we were pleased to see that the hopes by far outnumbered the fears!

We hope they can all make their wishes come true. And maybe we can help with some of the challenges.