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Who Creates Your Brand?

An organization’s brand is what it does or produces that is unique, meaningful, tangible, and valuable.  The value must be durable.  For a nonprofit, that means providing services that make a meaningful, measurable, and durable change in clients’ lives while fulfilling the promise of the mission statement.

When the board establishes the mission statement, it defines the nonprofit’s brand.  It is the staff’s responsibility to provide the services that make the brand relevant, meaningful, tangible, and valuable.

While every staff member plays a part in bringing the brand to life, those who work with the clients have the most important role.  They have the primary responsibility for helping clients achieve results and for changing the clients’ lives (outcomes).  In our social world, client experience matters as much as results and outcomes.  Service providers are the ones who are most likely to influence client experience and client engagement.

Engaged Clients – Generally, engaged clients work harder and achieve more.  They are usually the clients with the best stories (anecdotes) and best results and outcomes.  Their relationship with your nonprofit increases the probability that they will provide the social buzz every nonprofit wants.

Results and Outcomes – The result and outcomes create the anecdotes and statistics necessary to convince donors and the community to provide support.

Social – What clients say about their experience is also important.  Current technology makes it easier for everyone to influence everyone.  Good comments from current and past clients encourage others to use your services.  The good comments also encourage donors and other supporters to provide support and increase their support.

Most of the time, the staff members with the most client contact are the ones who have the most significant impact on the clients’ relationship with your nonprofit and the results and outcomes your clients achieve.  They are the staff members who have the best opportunity to build your brand.

Many times when a nonprofit’s brand is perceived as weak by its community, it is because the staff members who can do the most are unaware of how much they need to do.  They are dutifully focused on the tasks at hand.  Often, those tasks create an efficient operation.  At other times, the staff members are unaware of what they can do, while doing their normal work, to enhance the clients experience, results, and outcomes.  In either case, they see the task at hand as more important than building the brand (engaging clients, focusing on results, and giving the clients a unique and valuable experience).

Your client-serving staff members are the ones who are primarily responsible for translating the promises of your mission statement into the public’s understanding of the value of your brand.  Their success determines the strength of your brand and contributes to your nonprofit’s sustainability.

Next Step:

Revisit your nonprofit’s mission statement and ensure it creates a brand that your community needs, understands, and wants

Train your staff members, especially those involved directly with clients, to be great brand developers and ambassadors

Monitor client engagement, results, outcomes, and social media postings about your nonprofit, its services, its mission, and client service experience

Since branding is often talked about as an element of marketing, it is easy for everyone to think that managing the brand is the marketing department’s responsibility.  However, marketing is limited.  It can only present the results, outcomes, and anecdotes.  The rest of the staff must create the results, outcomes, and anecdotes while engaging the clients.

Your brand is what your staff and clients make it.

Take It Further:

Audit your community’s perception of your brand’s value annually

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