The role of brand in differentiating and positioning NFPs for greater impact
For many Not for Profit organisations, the dominant perception of brand is as a tool for increased visibility, favourable positioning in relation to competitors, and recognition among target audiences that translates into fundraising success. Managing the external perceptions of an organisation has been the typical NFP brand strategy.
However, this perception needs to be expanded. Your brand should play a more strategic role in your operations. It should be an intrinsic expression of your purpose, methodologies, and values to support the attraction, engagement and retention of the best staff that you can, not just supporters.
The brand is the vehicle by which you can bring your social purpose and social impact together…but social purpose is complex and social impact is only achieved when all elements of your purpose are in sync.
How do we align purpose and impact?
To achieve this goal you need to understand:
- Your beneficiaries and their needs;
- Funders you work with;
- Any unmet need in the community;
- What other organisations are doing;
- What are your own strengths and weaknesses.
For our Not for Profit organisations to begin to have real impact in our communities we need to position ourselves in relation to who we are, what we know and how we work. We can achieve this in 3 ways:
- Create clarity about us for stakeholders. We need to be clear about what we know of the needs and wants of our stakeholders and also to have a thorough knowledge of other players strengths and weaknesses.
- Focus on how we differ. As we become clearer about our own strengths and weaknesses and how we differ from others this differentiation becomes clearer for those who want to partner with us – whether donors or service delivery partners. This awareness also allows us to know how we can best participate in partnerships with other organisations and how each partner can play to its strengths;
- Achieving greater alignment between how we think about ourselves and how we are perceived externally by stakeholders makes it easier to control how we are positioned and how we differentiate from other organisations in our sector which in turn can reduce the time and effort spent competing for resources because of this enhanced clarity.
By taking a strategic approach to brand development Not for Profits, charities and other social purpose organisations can really focus on what we do and how we do it to engage our internal and external audiences and work towards enhancing trust and building brand value.
Importantly, the purpose of differentiation and positioning is NOT about competition but about providing clarity to build trust and help develop effective partnerships to achieve social outcomes.
To achieve this, brand management needs to be the responsibility of the entire executive team.