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

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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

How Great Website Design Drives Connection & Action

High-Impact Nonprofit Website DesignThanks to guest blogger Alex McLain, who designs engaging websites for nonprofits as a member of the Wired Impact team.

Creating a new website for your nonprofit is a mind-boggling task. You’ve got a million questions reeling through your head throughout the process, but one of the most important to consider is: “How important is the role of design in our website?” Without a doubt, your answer should be, “Very important.”

In order to wow website visitors and keep them returning to get more info, make more donations, or sign up for events, your site needs to stand out in a sea of websites that “get the job done.” Here are 10 ways great visual design drives website impact:

1. Makes a Good First Impression
I know what you’re thinking, “How can a website make a first impression? It’s not human. It’s not going to walk into a room and shake hands and kiss babies.”

But your website is one of the main faces of your organization (and frequently the first one new folks see). When potential supporters come to your site, you want them to immediately feel a sense of awe and be comfortable navigating and browsing through your site.

2. Inspires Confidence in Your Organization’s Impact
People want to support a nonprofit they trust will make a difference in the world. The work you do is important, and deserves to be showcased in a bold and beautiful manner. A striking, professionally designed website can help establish confidence and authority surrounding your cause.

3. Demonstrates that You Are Active and Relevant
Having an up-to-date and visually appealing website helps people to see that your nonprofit is actively working in your respective community. If your site looks like it’s from 1992—with a jarring background color and poor graphics—your organization may be perceived as inactive or out-of-date, and maybe even incapable of efficiently solving the problem you focus on. Having a dated site makes it far less likely that your visitors will be inspired to get involved.

4. Evokes Emotion
Being in the nonprofit sector, a huge part of what you do likely revolves around emotion. Maybe you’re fighting to keep the ozone layer intact, providing food for malnourished children, or rescuing homeless animals. These topics alone start to evoke emotion from supporters. In positioning your marketing efforts as cheerfully hopeful, boldly passionate, or even using sadness (with care) to grab people’s attention and compel them to help, you’re further delving into people’s emotions to motivate action. In fact, a study by a Wharton marketing professor on how to increase charitable giving found that “feelings, not analytical thinking, drive donations.”

A stellar design will bring your organization’s story to the forefront of your website, both visually and textually. It will motivate people to act based on how they feel toward your cause, and your nonprofit’s ability to be a part of the solution.

5. Prompts Actions: Donations and More
A well-designed website highlights specific, doable calls to action in strategic places throughout your site.

Make action opportunities clear and easy to find. Showcase what you want your visitors to accomplish on your website. Do you need volunteers? Add a “Sign Up to Volunteer” banner to your homepage. Do you need donations? Include a “Donate Now” button in a prominent spot in your navigation.

6. Enhances User Experience
User Experience basically means how your visitors feel when interacting with your site, and it is insanely important to take into account when designing a website.

According to the Online Marketing Institute, 85% of people abandon sites that are not well designed and easy to use, and 83% of people flee sites that require too many clicks to find what they’re seeking. For this reason, ensuring that your design is visually engaging and well-organized can be invaluable for your nonprofit. You want people to stay on your site for as long as possible, learning more about your organization, and ultimately donating or getting involved in other ways.

7. Makes Your Site Easy to Use On-the-Go
Mobile is a must at this point, but there’s more to great mobile site design than just pretty pictures, a nice color palette, and enough breathing room in between lines of text.

Responsive design refers to a site that automatically adjusts its layout to fit the screen size of the device it’s being viewed on, and is something you should definitely consider. Optimizing your website for mobile devices can be priceless in a world where over 74% of internet users are accessing the web on their mobile phones, according to eMarketer. And in a study released by Google, 25% of online donors in 2013 made a donation on a mobile device. That’s a ton of donating potential you don’t want to lose.

8. Connects You with a Younger Audience
It’s no secret that Millennials are always online. Whether they’re surfing the web, tweeting, pinning, Facebooking, whatever the case may be; Millennials care about socializing and sharing what they feel passionately about.

According to the 2013 Millennial Impact Report, keeping a website updated, and using photography are very important for keeping Millennials interested. In fact, 75% of respondents indicated that their biggest turnoff is an out-of-date website. By having a well-designed site, you can attract this generation now, and steadily build relationships and support for your cause throughout their lifetime.

9. Reinforces Your Brand
Consistency is the key to seamless branding across all communications platforms. Integrating in typography, imagery and colors across online, print and social content smooths supporters’ transition among media.

When people are able to quickly identify your organization by its familiar “look and feel” (known from materials they have already seen), that’s a valuable short cut to trust for you. You’re instilling trust that your nonprofit is organized, and has a clear vision plus the ability to tackle that vision head-on.

10. Converts Casual Visitors into Supporters
Your website is the portal into your world. Your site enables potential supporters to see what you’re accomplishing and how you’re doing it. By having an up-to-date, visually stunning website, your organization can draw people into the work of your organization and create emotional connections without requiring you to meet face-to-face.

By compelling site visitors to stay connected and share your cause with friends, you can raise more money, grow your volunteer base, meet new supporters, organize larger fundraisers, and ultimately extend closer and closer to realizing your mission and vision.

Has your nonprofit launched a newly-designed website recently? If so, how has it affected your presence on the web?

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

Name Change Why, When & Hows: Case Study—Part 1

It’s rare to see an organization change its name and that’s a good thing. Name changes are a delicate matter.

Assuming you’ve done a good job of building relationships with supporters, partners and others, your org’s name has equity. Members of your network—donors in particular—have established ways in which they relate to your organization, and your name is the most memorable trigger you have. When you change your organization’s name, you upset the status quo and draw attention to what has been a smooth and productive relationship.

But there are moments in an organization’s life when a name change is appropriate and in fact, may be absolutely necessary. These include:

  • New or expanded scope of work, and/or mission
  • Expanded geography served (if your name includes a location)
  • Change in meaning or popular use of you organizational name.

Green Media Toolshed was launched in 2000 to strengthen communications impact within the environmental movement. But when the organization dramatically changed the type of issue-based organizations it works with, renaming became a must

Green Media Toolshed is now officially Netcentric Campaigns. Our new name reflects our expanding work to help foundations, nonprofit organizations and grassroots leaders mobilize advocacy networks that will achieve change for the greater good.

Netcentric does a great job of explaining its name change, reassuring its community that its strengths and values will remain constant as its focus grows AND reframing the value of the organization’s work! Here’s how they link the past with the present:

When striving to achieve change, sometimes you need to change something about yourself…Although we’ve got a new moniker, we aren’t completely abandoning our roots.

Our team of 10 is ready for this transition. We know how to build networks that work and we’ve have been doing this work for years, after all…Bigger mission, bigger impact.

Well done! You see, no one really cares if you change your name, or your messages or launch a new website. These changes are news only when 1) you link them to the underlying moment of change (new online service for clients, providing service to new groups, a new leader); and 2) make that connection crystal clear. Netcentric has done a great job of doing so.

Name Creation/Change Guidance: Case Study—Part 2

What are your questions on name and message changes? Please share them here.

More Nonprofit Name Change Case Studies

Name Creation/Change Guidance: Case Study—Part 2

Part 1: Name Change Why, When & Hows

Naming and messaging are so tricky, yet so vital. I saw that again last week with your strong response to the Green Media Toolshed -> Netcentric Campaigns case study. So I reached out to the Netcentric team to learn more about their process and tips on shepherding a name change, or creation, for your organization, program or service.

Thanks so much to Bobbi Russell, Netcentric’s COO, for sharing experiences and tips.

Nancy: How did you kick off the name creation process?

Netcentric:  We had a head start, knowing that we wanted the new name to incorporate Netcentric. We’ve been running projects as a division of Green Media Toolshed called Netcentric
Campaigns for six or seven years, and that name synthesizes what we do and our unique value perfectly—building networks of people to move change forward.

Most importantly, we knew we couldn’t (and shouldn’t) do it all ourselves. We’re just too close to our work and history. For example, we couldn’t filter out the less important elements tied to our  history that weren’t critical to carry forward into the new brand (and in fact would have diminished it). We did keep a tie to our green roots by making sure that our logo integrated the color green.

First, we hired Edge Research to do an objective situation analysis of the environment we’re communicating into. They conducted in-depth interviews with past, current and prospective clients to gather feedback about how we are perceived.

Their findings were vital, highlighting the ideal approach and skillset for communications firm we would choose to guide us through the balance of the process. It wasn’t a surprise that we needed more than a new logo and website. But the feedback about our messages, work and kind of help we needed most was a bonus.

So we hired GALEWill to help us fine tune our brand (our personality, voice and tone), mission statement, messages and logo.

Nancy: What was the naming, messaging and design process from there? 

Netcentric: The lengthy process we took from there had been developed and tested by GALEWill with some of their other clients, so we were very secure in that. They started by reviewing a huge range of background materials and interviewing Marty (Martin Kearns, our president) and me at length.

GALEWill used those insights to draft the mission statement, brand architecture and other language. We very much embraced the process of establishing a brand architecture and seeing that much of our other language would flow from that.

At that point, we looped in the full staff and Board.We wanted our full team to be a part of the process and to emerge feeling ownership of our new name and brand.

Then we worked with a separate designer on website design and print collateral.

Nancy: Sounds like a smooth path. Any glitches?

Netcentric: We had to learn, after some tough times, to let go of the small things that were taking up a great deal of time. For example, some of our team members really wanted a snappy tagline but we just couldn’t come up with one that we all loved so much that we were ready to commit to printed collateral or wear it on a fleece!

Instead, we’re piloting a few tagline variations using our email signatures and we’re hosting a launch party later this month during which we’ll all be testing out the messaging in conversation with our Board of Directors and others. We’ll hone our tagline from those insights.

Nancy: How will you support your Board and colleagues in becoming effective messengers of the new brand? That’s the step I see SO many organization leave out of naming and message development.

Netcentric: We want to ensure the entire staff and Board is up to speed in sharing our mission, discussing our new name and model case studies plus able to deliver that 30-second elevator speech.

We’ve asked for their help (this has to be an all-org effort) and will train folks via a series of messaging boot camps.

To smooth the way, we’ve created a style and tone guide for easy reference. And we’ve designated  our content strategy manager to edit most outgoing materials to align to guidelines, as we continue to work with staff to get them up to speed.

We’re on our way, and it’s exciting!

What are your questions, or tips, on name and message changes? Please share them here.

Part 1: Name Change Why, When & Hows

More Nonprofit Name Change Case Studies

Nonprofit Branding News – Why the YMCA Is Now the Y

Addendum, 7/22/10: Here’s the YWCA’s response to the Y’s name change.

In case you haven’t heard, the YMCA is now the Y.  And believe it or not, the story is covered in the first section of today’s New York Times. Nonprofit marketing news doesn’t usually make the grade!

According to Kate Coleman, the Y’s chief marketing officer, this name change is motivated by the Y’s desire to use a name more closely matched with its mission and emphasizes the impact its programs have on youth, healthy living and communities.  This is definitely a critical focus to reflect in the Y’s branding but I’m not convinced that a single letter can do all that!

“It’s a way of being warmer, more genuine, more welcoming, when you call yourself what everyone else calls you,”  is the second reason for the change  Coleman cites. I don’t agree with that one either.

It is indeed important to know what your organization’s base thinks and what’s important to them. That’s the only way to identify the intersection of your organization’s needs and those of your base – the nexus of your brand. But that doesn’t mean your brand should be what your base is using as your name.

Already, the Y is set up to confuse audiences by asking that while affiliates should be referred to overall by the new name, a specific branch should be referred to the “South Mountain YMCA.” That’s a mess in the making.

I certainly understand the Y’s motivation to have its name more clearly reflect its current mission. That’s good marketing. And the same valid reasoning that moved the United Negro College Fund to change its name to UNCF – because it was serving more than students of a single race.

And the Y does a fantastic job of using the new brand to highlight what’s really important – its current programmatic focus.  No one cares that your branding is different but announcing your new focus is a great way to (implicitly) introduce your new brand. Take a look at this webcast of the Y’s press conference on the change.

But I envision the Y will face some real challenges with this name change, including:

  • What about the YWCA?
  • And the YMHA/YWHA (the Jewish Y)? New York City’s affiliate is already known as the 92nd Street Y.
  • The name “Y” makes me ask “why not?”

What are your thoughts on this name change? Does it work? Should  a nonprofit’s name be whatever it’s called by its base? Please share your comments below. Thanks!

Stand Up and Speak Out – Nonprofits Are Getting Dissed

I want to welcome guest blogger Susie Bowie.  As communications manager at the Community Foundation of Sarasota, she is a passionate and talented  force helping organizations in the region develop their nonprofit marketing finesse. Today, Susie heralds her call to action to us nonprofit marketers…

Recently, I’ve heard a couple of remarks about nonprofits and nonprofit staff that just kill me…

First a local business person shared his view that “most of us drawn to nonprofit leadership roles care about charitable work but generally lack the skills to be leaders in the for-profit world.

Then Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, bluntly stated (his modus operandi) that nonprofits don’t have the power to change the world because they “have no resources” and are “constantly out trying to raise money instead of generating it and being self-sufficient.”

My guess is that if I’ve heard such patronizing criticism from these vocal folks in just the past couple of weeks, that this perspective is fairly widespread.

Why should nonprofit marketers care about such silly comments?

Each time word goes out, in a comment, article or broadcast – about how ineffective or unprofessional our sector is – it costs us financial support. Those messages generate doubts among our supporters, much less those who are still prospects. A heavy onus lies with nonprofit communicators to set it straight, but we can’t do it alone.

So what can and should nonprofit communicators professionals do about it within our sector? Here are three ways we can advocate for the truth:

1) Nurture the business people who do understand the power of nonprofits, support us with sponsorship dollars and provide us with outstanding board leaders.

In Sarasota, FL, local companies like Cavanaugh & Co, Kerkering Barberio, SunTrust and Northern Trust are just a few of the successful for-profits doing their part. As nonprofit communicators, we must thank such boosters profusely and set the stage for keeping the relationships going, highlighting their good work in our nonprofit’s outreach and encouraging our leadership to spread the praise.

It’s simply good public relations. Your personal and business pages on Facebook provide a great forum for shout-outs. Don’t let them slide once a sponsored event or program is over. And let your business partners know what you’re doing—just because you see a good news announcement in your local paper doesn’t mean they’ve seen it.

2) Remember that it’s a constant education process to help those who live outside our sector recognize what important and vital work we do.

We can’t fault the business world for a lack of understanding about charitable work anymore than you can fault yourself for not understanding how to fix the oil spill. Consider yourself not only a marketing ambassador for your organization but one for the sector.

Get wise about the economic impact facts in our charitable sector. Sarasota County nonprofits, for instance, reported over $2.8 billion in assets and over $1.2 billion in revenue in 2008 alone. (Source: National Center for Charitable Statistics, January 2010) That’s a result of caring but inept people begging for money. Who’s the one to shed light on this? You. That’s right, it’s your job too.

3) If we’re going to be seen as professional, we have to stay ahead of the curve in professionalism and in our knowledge base.

All staff members, but particularly nonprofit leadership and communicators, represent the sector wherever they go – whether on the job or not. As the marketing ambassador for your organization, remind your staff of their personal brand (how they carry themselves, what they say about their work and your organization) and how it influences your nonprofit brand—and vice versa.

It’s not about “casual” versus “formal” in your virtual and geographic communities. It’s about aligning your actions and comments with respect and intelligence.

I think most of us do a great job of this. Our ongoing education can’t stop with awareness of the issues we care about most. Having one leg in that business world—with constant monitoring of the corporate news and trends—is critical. Communicating the intersections between the nonprofit and for-profit worlds is partly our responsibility. We have the skills to actively convey these connections to essential internal and external audiences. Leadership can determine where we go with them.

Nonprofits are taking (and historically have taken) a leading role in relationship building, the hallmark of success for any venture, public or private.  But it’s up to us to communicate our successes and strengths in a clear, consistent way, through all the grains of staff, board and program running through our organizations.

Powerful food for thought. Thank you, Susie.

What are your thoughts on how (and if) nonprofit marketers can best promote an accurate understanding of the strengths and power of the nonprofit sector and its people? Should we respond directly to slams such as Zuckerberg’s or take the high road  -showing rather than saying – our expertise and professionalism.

Please comment here. Thanks.

Ask Yourself 4 Questions for Effective Nonprofit Taglines

Welcome to guest blogger Allison Van Diest. Allison, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Blackbaud, prides herself on being not only a marketing “artist” but a marketing “scientist”  able to measure the marketing impact. She has some terrific guidance to share with you on shaping a tagline that works…

What has less than 140 characters and tells the world what you’re up to?

Yes, Twitter does.  But how do you think the Twitter folks got the idea that a short, punchy phrase or two can be among the best ways to communicate?  Decades ago, taglines showed the world that a few well-chosen words can mean more to a reader than pages of advertising copy.

The purpose of a tagline is to create an impression that is meaningful and moving, as succinctly as possible.  And in today’s landscape of light speed communication, with constraints on readers’ time and attention, a well-written tagline is critical.

It is your best tool in capturing the imagination of a prospective supporter and also arms them with the perfect message to send to their network (through Twitter, perhaps!).

Sold on the idea of taglines, but not sure yours is prize-worthy? Enter the Nonprofit Tagline Awards program anyway, there’s nothing to lose. And every entrant will be invited to join me in a special free webinar on building leadership support for critical marketing projects. But back to taglines…

If you’re not satisfied with your tagline, consider sending it through a quick positioning refresh to make sure it truly captures your spirit.  As a reminder, a strong positioning statement answers these questions:

  1. Who (what group) does your organization serve?
  2. What does the group you serve hope to accomplish?
  3. What does your organization provide to the group you serve?
  4. What is the outcome if the group you serve accomplishes its goal?

Consider how how this information is conveyed by TexasNonprofits, a 2009 Nonprofit Tagline Award winner:  “Building community deep in the hearts of Texans”

  1. Who (what group) does your organization serve?  Texas nonprofits
  2. What does the group you serve hope to accomplish? To encourage higher levels of giving so they can do more good in Texas
  3. What does your organization provide to the group you serve?  Resources and support to aid the nonprofit community
  4. What is the end state if the group you serve accomplishes its goal?  Texans are even more philanthropic and nonprofit impact goes even further

With its tagline, TexasNonprofits conveys mission and impact in a clever and memorable way.   This year’s Taggies will once again celebrate well-crafted taglines and – hopefully – inspire other nonprofits to follow suit, so please enter yours today (deadline is July 28).

 We can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to!

The 2010 Nonprofit Tagline Awards program is made possible thanks to the generous sponsorship of Blackbaud, Event360, Eventbrite and See3 Communications.

P. P. S. Follow the tagline award news on Twitter via the hashtag #taggies

 

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.

5 Steps to Jumpstart Your Tagline Development Process

Developing a high-power tagline for your nonprofit can be a daunting task, especially with so many competing priorities.  Whether you are creating a first-time tagline or revitalizing an existing brand, here are five steps to jump start the process:

  1. Confirm that the tagline (or lack of one) is a problem. Feature a few talking points about your organization (or your tagline, if you already have one) in conversations with colleagues, members and volunteers.  Make a note of their reactions.  Does your messaging inspire people to dig in and ask more questions or get involved, or does it create confusion about your organization’s work and impact?
  2. Get your colleagues on board.  Let your colleagues know that it’s time to develop stronger messaging for your organization based on what you’ve heard in your listening research, and that you’ll need their help. Be as specific as possible about your goals and outcomes, and how you’d like them to help.
  3. Uncover some audience intelligence, Sherlock Holmes.  Ask colleagues (and volunteers, if you need to) to insert your organization’s messaging (or current tagline, if you have one) in their own conversations in the field and report back to you what they find. Make it easy for them to report back in a way that’s easy for them and useful to you.
  4. Summarize the feedback you get and your recommendations for moving forward.  What does and doesn’t work? What does that suggest about revising existing messaging or shaping  a new tagline?
  5. Is more research needed? Decide if you need to take your audience research one step further or you’re ready to kickoff the tagline creation process with a brainstorming session.

These five steps are a proven stepping stone to developing a strong tagline for your organization. Supplement them with our free guide to powerful messaging for your organization: The Getting Attention Tagline Report features don’t dos, must dos and over 2,500 nonprofit tagline examples to kick-start your message brainstorming.

By Amy Kehoe, Manager – Getting Attention

Flickr photo: Jeff Carlson