Why Professional Brand Design Must Be a Non-Negotiable for Not-For-Profits
Recently I received a stunning eDM in my inbox from Charity:Water. The charity raises funds to provide safe drinking water to people in third world countries – a brilliant cause, but then no less brilliant than the thousands of other charities that abound. What’s most remarkable is that having donated to Charity:Water once several years ago, I’ve never opted-out of their subscription list. I am a regular little philanthropist, donating here and there like a philanthropic Johnny Appleseed, then just as regularly ending our relationship by unsubscribing immediately. The reason I continue my relationship with Charity:Water is all about beautiful design. I love receiving their emails and watching their beautifully shot video clips, and as a result am more than likely to be an ongoing supporter. In the hyper competitive, not-for-profit market I wonder how any organisation could afford NOT to invest in engaging brand identity design.
And Charity:Water are not without a group of stylish mates. Movember, Bono’s (RED) Charity, The World Wildlife Fund, Macmillan Cancer Support, and Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation are all not-for-profits who go hard to leverage the power of beautiful brand design to stand-out from the pack.
Below are examples of the Charity:Water brand identity visual language:
A quick scan of not-for-profit branding on Google provides a graphic insight into the poor standard of brand identity design across the category. In such a tough marketplace, a well designed visual identity must be one of the simplest ways for not-for-profit organisations to differentiate themselves. For most consumers coming across a not-for-profit for the first time, the brand identity and communications is the single most critical element to understanding the mission of a not-for-profit, trusting in them or not and having confidence in their professionalism.
Bono leverages his own personal brand as well as those of his influential buddies to underscore the cool credentials of (RED). But brand design has also been a critical component of the brands reputation, especially when Bono and his famous mates are not around to personally represent the organisation – something not lost on the brands that choose to associate with (RED).
Macmillan are a UK Cancer Support organisation who through the power of on engaging, personality-filled brand identity have created a high profile presence in their marketplace.
The WWF is a well established brand who have been around for decades. They constantly keep the bar high though their faultlessly designed brand mark and a constant flow of creative, inspiring and memorable brand communications.
In the world of not-for-profit brands, Movember have quickly built a global presence around a single cool idea of raising money and awareness through growing a ‘mo’ each year. Movember have had a clear view of who they are as a brand, and beautifully communicated that to their market of hairy bros and sistas through well crafted brand design from day one.
The Movember brand identity has always had a finely tuned edge to match their brand personality. This well crafted brand image allowed them to connect with a hip urban market in Australia, previously ignored by a category who saw the whole market through the same myopic lens. Movember’s approach led to lightening fast take-up, and opened-up larger, like-minded market around the world. The Mo became a symbol of urban hip, cascading down from the early adopters to a mass market who for the first time saw the association with a not-for-profit brand as an aspirational badge to cool. Clever brand associations with the likes of Grill’d burgers and a consistent flow of equally cool brand comms has seen the Movember brand take over the world like a killer mustache in a B-grade movie.
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