Why a Brand and Communications Strategy matters.
As part of its core package of services, Fuse IQ is pleased to offer content development and strategy through our partner, Worth Collaborative. I recently sat down with principals Kim Waag and Mary Orth to discuss how brand and communication strategy relates to web content development and why it matters for nonprofits.
Q. With regard to nonprofits, what is the difference between mission, brand and communications?
A. The three concepts are distinct, but very much interconnected. We like to define them as:
- Mission is your values.
- Brand is your personality or how you represent, live and outwardly express those values. Your brand identity should be clear in everything you say, do and touch.
- Communications is how you articulate and engage based on those values and that personality. Communications is the means with which you stay engaged, connected and in deep relationship with your supporters.
Q. What do you mean by brand? Isn’t brand something that corporations need to sell their products? Many organizations feel if they have a mission, why do they need a brand?
A. Too often when people refer to “brand” they simply mean name and logo. We believe that good brand strategy starts with diving deep into what is already there to answer questions, such as:
- Who are you?
- What are your values?
- Why do you exist and why does it matter?
- Are you effectively communicating those values with your supporters in a consistent, compelling and genuine way?
- Do your supporters feel truly engaged with your work?
However, taking a fresh, honest look at your own organization and identifying where new opportunities may lie is often hard to accomplish and even more difficult to prioritize from within the organization.
By listening to the people who know and love your organization best—your staff, board, clients, donors, volunteers and unique community partners—an external communications expert can help you rediscover that thread of passion that weaves throughout your organization and help bring it to the forefront.
It is critical to develop a strategy that enables you to accurately and consistently articulate your brand using the most optimal avenues available to your organization.
The important work your organization is doing is only as good and sustainable as your ability to share it with if the right people and actively engage with them in a meaningful way.
Q. How does an organization know when it needs ‘brand work’?
A. Many organizations will commission a brand assessment when they find themselves at a unique crossroads in their life cycle. They might be facing new or unique programmatic, organizational or financial changes or challenges, or might simply be struggling with how to communicate effectively.
Your brand is a fluid entity that needs to be curated and cared for by everyone in the organization—from the president of the board to the person answering the phones. Managing your brand is an ongoing process.
Q. How can I measure the ROI on brand and content strategy?
A. “Improving communication” often appears as a top goal in most strategic plans, but is almost never the sole responsibility or primary goal of any one person in the organization.
The cost of doing nothing—of simply maintaining the status quo where communication is inconsistent, capricious and time-consuming—clearly comes at great cost with regard to your ability to build awareness and retain or grow funding.
Your website is your most important marketing and engagement tool. The content must accurately and powerfully reflect your brand.
Measuring the ROI on content and brand work can be done in two ways:
You can use a multitude of metrics--unique to your organization and its particular strategic goals--as an indication of improved organizational awareness.
- Increased hits to your website
- Increased money raised at event or appeal
- Increased number of new or retained donors over a period of time
- Increased lifetime value of a donor for the long-term
- Increased ability to attract and retain talent, staff
- Increased number of clients served
Using a methodical, data-driven process to conduct a brand strategy will help your entire organization develop a clearer and more consistent understanding of who you are, who you need to be talking to, what attributes and benefits you should highlight, why it matters and what’s the overall impact.
We like to see organizations get even more out of what they already have—their relationships, their resources and their way of delivering service.
Strong brand strategy and key messaging will ultimately make the job of your staff and board easier. Having the right set of tools, guidelines and messages in place---that are unique to your organization ---reduces the pressure to be constantly coming up with new snappy messages or gimmicks when faced with the task of creating new content or building your funding pipeline.
You will also be more equipped to recognize when content is out of sync with your organization’s personality and values. And you will have a deeper understanding of how less noise with a tighter message can actually create more impact.