Marketing a Strong Nonprofit Brand

Laura Ries runs a strategic marketing firm in Atlanta with her father and partner, Al Ries. Here is a summary of her recently posted 7 step process for brand building for the non-profit organizations. I especially like step 4 focusing on a comman enemy. I think it really helps to build the united front. The enemy can be the disease, the unfortunate circumstance, or the common problem that unites the nonprofit.

1. The name This is the first and most important decision that any nonprofit has to make. Too many charities have generic names that describe what they do but lack the ability to distinguish them from similar organizations in the mind.2. The spokesperson All brands need a spokesperson, but having ne is incredibility important for a nonprofit. Ideally, the founder is the best person to take on this role. He or she has a powerful connection to the brand and can sell the story to the media, donors, volunteers, and supporters.

3. The position Every brand needs a focus. For a nonprofit that wants to be as inclusive as possible, this is a very difficult task. But the only way to get your brand into the mind is with a narrow focus.
4. The enemy Every strong brand needs an enemy. This is something nonprofits by nature tend to avoid discussing. But strong brands are built by figuring out who the enemy is, nd what the enemy stands for, and then building a brand that stands for the opposite.

5. PR, PR, PR Not much to say here, except that PR builds brand. The pokesperson needs to spend the majority of his or her time doing PR for the charity, leaving the managerial duties to someone else.

6. A signature event. All charities, schools, clubs and teams have endless fundraisers. Instead of a non-profit spending thousands of hours on multiple new programs every year, a better strategy is to focus on one or two big events and do them every year forever. Consistency is the key to success.

7. Color and logo Any brand can benefit from the use of a strong, singular color they can own in the mind. Pink and breast cancer is the best example of such an association; you see pink, and you know what it means. The American Heart Association uses red. Lance Armstrong uses yellow, the color of the leader’s jersey in the Tour de France.


I’d like to add 8) the Goal What’s the number one objective for you when you build the brand? Are you trying to gain awareness? raise funds? obtain members? get people to use your services? change perceptions? Perhaps you say “yes” to all of these goals… I suggest that you pick one to lead with and measure your results. The other goals will follow.

Author: Chris Brown

Business owner operating a marketing consulting firm. Online Publisher. Keynote Speaker.