No Good Deed Goes Unbranded – The Art of Social Cause Marketing

20 Jul 2011
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Each day, in our media-saturated atmosphere, we weather a storm of information that rains down all around us. In the midst of this chaos, it can be difficult to discern what’s important and what’s not – so we shield ourselves – often losing meaningful messaging in the gallons of white-noise runoff.  An organization working to support a positive cause can be lost in the deluge.

The days when for-profit companies were the only organizations willing to spend time and money creating strong brand expressions are long gone, and for good reason. Without an impactful brand expression to carry their message, charitable organizations can struggle to forge the emotional connection with their audience that is often crucial in compelling them to act.

Considering the limitations that most cause-based organizations are up against, it’s easy to understand why many have been slow to seek help in this area. Volunteers have limited availability, full-time organizational employees are expensive, and funding expert brand consultation can have a negative impact on individual campaign budgets. While all these challenges are very real obstacles, organizations must also be focused on building their brand equity if they hope to create a sustainable positive impact and spur community action.

One cause-based organization that has continued to thrive throughout the years, in large part thanks to their excellent brand equity, is the International Red Cross. In all likelihood, if asked, 9 out of 10 people on the street could identify the organization by their brandmark alone and could, in some capacity, define what the organization stands for. Red Cross has stood the test of time behind a strong brand expression that continues to instill credibility, trust and an emotional connection, elevating them above other organizations with similar societal motivations.

In some cases, simply being a legacy brand is not enough. For longtime causes experiencing branding limitations, a historic existence without a strategic brand expression can quickly be buried in the information overload. This past year LPK worked to redefine the brand expression for ArtsWave, previously known as the Fine Arts Fund. The organization had experienced many years of success, but began noticing a divergence between their intended brand expression and the actual takeaway within the community. LPK was able to better position the organization by gathering community insight and applying it to ArtsWave’s vision via a new design and communication strategy. ArtsWave’s adjusted brand position now affords them more opportunities for community connectivity, positive social impact and a renewed sense of vitality moving forward.

As new cause-based organizations launch, they must do so through the savvy application of design that informs perception, stories that inspire action and emotional connections that clearly identify a vision to positively affect society. Only then will they have a platform that wins people’s hearts…followed by people’s time and money.