The 5th state of rebrand - defence - Charity Today

By Max du Bois

As featured in Charity Today by Max du Bois 

Just like brands in the corporate sector, charity brands are frequently subject to the negative effects of shifting market landscapes. It would be fair to say that this has been one of the most common reasons for a re-branding exercise over the last couple of years, and this is what we define as the 5th state of re-branding – defence.

If a charity’s sub-sector is volatile, there will be a need to reinforce the brand to strengthen it against competition, tech disruption and shifting consumer behaviours.

But static defence is just a sticking plaster solution. Savvy brand owners use the opportunity to spring onto the front foot.

And that is precisely what not-for-profit careers advisor, Prospects, realised they needed to do when mobile and the internet radically changed the way we access and consume information.

Ironically for students, it was becoming increasingly hard to find accurate and relevant information on careers advice and opportunities.

Prospects are the only not-for-profit careers advisor working in a highly commercially competitive market. Not only do they advertise a vast range of job opportunities, but they have also invested in career-defining and planning tools, and cover many jobs and higher education opportunities that commercial players don’t.

But Prospects’ print-based ‘ring around the job ad’ brand was sending out all the wrong messages and eroding their business.

Prospects are experts in graduate careers, with a unique understanding of individual career journeys, guiding students well beyond their first job. We defined that their expertise in the balance of information, opportunities and proper career guidance is what makes them unique and had to be turned into a core competitive strength.

We identified that the new brand had to be about defining and achieving aspirations. This meant taking ownership of the word ‘Prospects’ and positioning them as market leaders. This message was then delivered through a variety of cutting-edge platforms, that enabled them to stand up and say ‘our graduates have Prospects’.

In a market dominated by commercial job sites, Prospects are now communicating their relevance with a brand flexible enough to speak to not only to students and graduates but also to employers, careers advisors and MPs.

The brand is helping to highlight their extensive knowledge of students and graduates, and the research they produce now has greater reach and can influence policy with a refreshed, authoritative voice.

By approaching their re-brand from the perspective of needing to defend what they do to explain it better Prospects has already seen an uplift above their competitors as they communicate and establish their unique sector position and multi-media focus. As they generate excitement across the whole market, they are also finding that the new brand in impacting every function of their business.

Defending a brand may at times sound like re-trenching and pulling inwards and, to a certain degree, this is the initial stage of this 5th state of re-branding – we need to focus inwards on defining what the core purpose of the charity is. This was the case with what we now know as Volunteering Matters.

As those who have been around long enough will remember, CSV volunteers made a crucial difference to people and communities all over the UK.

However, competition and a harsh period of austerity meant their dynamic new Chief Executive had no option but to deep dive into their current brand to identify just how they could stop the erosion. Careful analysis pinpointed that it was the brand name, in particular, that was a liability.

From providing advice and friendship to troubled families, helping children to read at school, or empowering people with disabilities to live independently, Volunteering Matters’ new brand positioning, name and the visual brand was designed to carve out their territory as the UK’s leaders in volunteering innovation, practice and policy.

Many people are experiencing social isolation and significant inequalities in their communities. Volunteering Matters know that by investing in people, through volunteering, we can reduce disparities and segregation to build stronger more inclusive communities.

The 150,000 people who volunteer through Volunteering Matters get as much out of the experience as the people and communities they help, and the new brand reflects the positive impact that volunteering has. It shows how Volunteering Matters is a dynamic community made up of many voices.

Any brand which finds themselves slowly but surely losing energy and momentum is probably at this 5th state of re-branding. It is an insidious state to be in and one that can immediately benefit from a thrust of re-branding energy.