Posts

Rebrand to Connect: Red Rover Tells All (Case Study-Part 1)

RRlogo

Within the first five minutes of meeting Leili Khalessi last year, I learned that she and her colleagues were in the process of rebranding their organization, including a new name. As Marketing and Communications Manager with (what is now) Red Rover, Leili was right in the middle of that challenging project. So I jumped on the opportunity to ask if she’d share the organization’s experience in this marketing adventure.

Most important takeaways:

  1. Pinpoint the problem you’re trying to solve with your marketing decisions, especially when it’s as big as a new name
  2. Ensure your organizational name/brand is recognized (and repeatable), before you invest in program branding. If you don’t, you’re likely to end up with people thinking your organization provides that one program only, which limits your growth in size and direction.

Here’s part one of this useful case study:

Q: Tell me about Red Rover. What’s your focus and how do you carry it out?

A: RedRover’s mission is to bring animals out of crisis and strengthen the bond between people and animals through emergency sheltering, disaster relief services, financial assistance and education.

We use three main strategies to get there—engaging volunteers and supporters, collaborating with others and maximizing the use of online technology.

Q: What was the problem you were trying to solve, and how did you come to rebranding/naming as the solution?

A: Well, our previous name (United Animal. Nations) got in the way of making and sustaining supporter and partnership relationships on so many fronts. So rebranding/renaming was the clear solution

We have evolved a great deal since our founding in 1987, having narrowed our focus over the years to focus in on a few key issues affecting companion animals in the United States and Canada, rather than addressing a wide range of animal issues internationally.

But our initial name (United Animal Nations) and globe-like logo conveyed that we were international in focus (which we weren’t). In addition, the name sounded politically charged although, legislative and policy work have never been a priority for us.

Additionally, we heard consistent feedback that the name United Animal Nations sounded militant, extremist and activist. That’s a huge deterrent to building relationships with supporters of all kinds.

Staff and volunteers were asked, “Are you like PETA?” After hearing descriptions of our programs, an emergency management official who visited our office a couple of years ago sighed with relief and said, “I thought you were a terrorist organization!”

Finally, since we work so closely with government agencies and schools, it’s particularly important that we remain (and are perceived as) politically neutral. United Animal Nations failed on this front.

As a result of these multiple problems, our name (United Animal Nations) continually bubbled up as a real problem (and weakness) during our annual strategic planning. It was constantly getting in our way, and just didn’t represent the kind of organization we were.

Q: It’s crystal-clear that your previous name and brand was a deterrent to engaging supporters and partners (one of the worst marketing problems an organization can have).

Were there any other factors that pushed the name change? I ask because renaming and branding are steps most nonprofit folks (esp. leadership) are deathly afraid of!

A: That’s a long story!

We knew that although the name United Animal Nations was familiar and comfortable to many people, it caused the problems we already mentioned. But there was even more:

As United Animal Nations, our splintered program brands created a confusing environment that got in the way of reaching our communications, outreach and fundraising.

Over the years some of our programs—Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS), the Humane Education Ambassador Readers (HEAR) and LifeLine—had developed identities of their own that were absolutely disconnected from each other and from the parent organization itself.

For example, some people didn’t realize that the Emergency Animal Rescue Service was a program of UAN—including some of our volunteers. You can see what a huge problem that was.

Q: What was the problem you were trying to solve, and how did you come to rebranding/naming as the solution?

A: Well, our previous name was a real barrier to making and sustaining supporter and partnership relationships on many fronts. So rebranding/renaming was the clear solution

We have evolved a great deal since our founding in 1987, having narrowed our focus over the years to focus in on a few key issues affecting companion animals in the United States and Canada, rather than addressing a wide range of animal issues internationally.

But our initial name (United Animal Nations) and globe-like logo conveyed that we were international in focus (which we weren’t). In addition, the name sounded politically charged although, legislative and policy work have never been a priority for us.

Additionally, we heard consistent feedback that the name United Animal Nations sounded militant, extremist and activist. That’s a huge deterrent to building relationships with supporters of all kinds.

Staff and volunteers were asked, “Are you like PETA?” After hearing descriptions of our programs, an emergency management official who visited our office a couple of years ago sighed with relief and said, “I thought you were a terrorist organization!”

Finally, since we work so closely with government agencies and schools, it’s particularly important that we remain (and are perceived as) politically neutral. United Animal Nations failed on this front.

As a result of these multiple problems, our name (United Animal Nations) continually bubbled up as a real problem (and weakness) during our annual strategic planning. It was constantly getting in our way, and just didn’t represent the kind of organization we were.

– See more at: /articles/4254/branding/nonprofit-branding-case-study.html#sthash.v1PNDo7H.dpuf

Q: What was the problem you were trying to solve, and how did you come to rebranding/naming as the solution?

A: Well, our previous name was a real barrier to making and sustaining supporter and partnership relationships on many fronts. So rebranding/renaming was the clear solution

We have evolved a great deal since our founding in 1987, having narrowed our focus over the years to focus in on a few key issues affecting companion animals in the United States and Canada, rather than addressing a wide range of animal issues internationally.

But our initial name (United Animal Nations) and globe-like logo conveyed that we were international in focus (which we weren’t). In addition, the name sounded politically charged although, legislative and policy work have never been a priority for us.

Additionally, we heard consistent feedback that the name United Animal Nations sounded militant, extremist and activist. That’s a huge deterrent to building relationships with supporters of all kinds.

Staff and volunteers were asked, “Are you like PETA?” After hearing descriptions of our programs, an emergency management official who visited our office a couple of years ago sighed with relief and said, “I thought you were a terrorist organization!”

Finally, since we work so closely with government agencies and schools, it’s particularly important that we remain (and are perceived as) politically neutral. United Animal Nations failed on this front.

As a result of these multiple problems, our name (United Animal Nations) continually bubbled up as a real problem (and weakness) during our annual strategic planning. It was constantly getting in our way, and just didn’t represent the kind of organization we were.

– See more at: /articles/4254/branding/nonprofit-branding-case-study.html#sthash.v1PNDo7H.dpuf

Make Your (Re)Brand Magical!

I’m so eager to share with you the incredible learning experience I had at the recent Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) . I learned all about nonprofit rebranding via Farra Trompeter, Vice President of Big Duck, and Will Nolan, Senior Vice President of Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD). Here are a few key takeaways to help you understand the potential of brand for our causes, and knowing when it’s time for a change.

First Things First: What’s a Brand?
Your nonprofit’s brand represents your identity, your promise to donors and constituents, and the consistency of your work. The principles outlined here are relevant whether you’re shaping a first-time (intentional) brand for your organization, or you’re rebranding.

Whether we’re talking Red Cross or Coca-Cola, brands that work connect with our hearts and minds to trigger emotion and action. The difference, Farra says, is that with companies, we have a transactional relationship; with nonprofits, we have a transformational relationship.

Brand Positioning vs. Organizational Personality
These two terms are tossed around a lot, but what do they really mean? If positioning is the big idea, personality is the feeling in your people’s hearts, says Farra.

Effective  positioning ensures that a big idea is consistently associated with the brandÚ For what expertise or service are you the go-to? Your personality should answer the question: What do you want them to feel?

Zero in on what your organization is trying to do or be before jumping to positioning & personality. Get clear on who you are—and who you’re trying to reach. It’s the only way to get relevant. Beware, there is no such thing as “the general public.” If you try to reach everyone, you’ll fail, and you’re likely to alienate the folks you really want to engage.

Why Are SO Many Orgs (Re)branding?
Rebranding helps orgs erase outdated geographical boundaries, market smarter, and better reflect their work. A rebrand bridges from the before to what’s new when orgs shift focus or restructure.

Your nonprofit’s brand is a powerful way to synchronize your efforts across programs and channels. Clear branding, guidelines, and communications tools actually make it easier for everyone to speak on your behalf. This is particularly important for organizations that have many staff, as well as external supporters, acting as spokespeople.

Shoring up your brand can also help you recruit better board members and staff, improve your internal capacity, and attract more media coverage. Your people ARE your brand!

But Your (Re)brand Does Even MORE
Done well, rebranding (OR first-time branding) enables your org to more clearly define and share your niche, which makes it easier for your people to connect with you, and ultimately increase revenue through

Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy’s rebrand helped the org become more direct and consistent in their communications. They shifted their tagline from “Leading the Duchenne muscular dystrophy community” to a bolder statement: “Leading the fight to end Duchenne.” Their new colors, logo, and positioning now reflect this strong vision.

This change allowed them to reframe their communications around a clear mission. As a result, PPMD increased community participation and its email list size.

Ok, We Want to (Re)brand! Now What?
First, understand that your brand—whether the first brand or a (re)brand—is a sum of many individual parts, not just a name or logo.

When it comes to (re)branding, updating your organization’s brand identity often has the most impact. Identity includes the visual elements of your brand (such as logos, colors, imagery) and your key messaging (tagline, boilerplate).

When Should We (Re)Brand ?
Good branding helps your cause break through the noise. This is important for many organizations, as the environment in which they’re operating can change over time. If your organization has changed its focus, or the environment has shifted, consider updating your brand.

When Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy kicked off its rebranding process, staff thought hard about the  the equity in the existing name. Keep in mind that brands can be fluid (although you wouldn’t want to rebrand more than every five or ten years, and that’s even a lot). Over time, your organization’s essence may not change, but elements of your brand or structure may need to.

Is it time for your nonprofit to rebrand? Big Duck’s brand flowchart will help you decide.

What Do High-Impact Nonprofit (Re)Brands Have In Common?
These are some of the factors likely to lead to (re)branding success can include:

  • A clear, focused, understood-and-acted-on throughout the organization strategic plan (a must!)
  • New leadership
  • New fundraising strategies.

BTW, if your organization is currently going through a strategic planning process, complete that process before (re)branding. You’ll have better alignment, as your organization’s vision will be clearer.

To learn more, check out Big Duck’s The Rebrand Effect

The Power of Special Event Taglines – Enter Yours Today

Welcome back to guest blogger Tamara Mendelsohn, Director of Marketing for Eventbrite for Causes, a sponsor of the Nonprofit Tagline Awards (a.k.a., The Taggies). Tamara focuses day in and day out on making events more productive for nonprofits and has a valuable recommendation to share…

This year, the Taggies have added a category for special event taglines. If you’re reading this, you already know that a live event represents a unique fundraising and awareness opportunity. But you may not be aware of what event taglines can do for your cause.

Here are 5 reasons special event taglines are so helpful:

  • They set your event apart from similar events – Attendees have a limited amount of time and resources for events. Imagine they’re picking between two great benefit concerts, one clearly branded with a tagline and one without. Which one do you think they’re more likely to remember, spread the word on and more likely to attend?
  • They make it easy for attendees to become your best marketers – For attendees to convince their social networks to join them at an event, they need to be able to explain why it will be great. By creating a potent tagline, you’re doing much of that work for them.
  • They’re built for social media – A great special event tagline is a snap for attendees to drop into the small text spaces of Twitter and Facebook. And drop again. And again.
  • They promote repeat attendance – Even a great event can fade from attendees’ memories if it lacks a distinctive identity. A strong tagline makes your event unforgettable, and can give it a permanent place on attendees’ monthly or yearly calendars.
  • They’re fun – A little humor, even a well-placed pun, communicates to attendees that you know how to show them a great time. And—especially since many organizations are raising money for quite serious causes—it’s key to remind them that your event is a gathering they’ll enjoy and feel good about.