Brand strategy; what the non-profit sector and the corporate sector can learn from each other
The brand challenges – and opportunities – faced by charities increasingly resemble those faced by corporates.
According to Professor Byron Sharp, brands largely compete not in terms of differentiation or even product offering, but in terms of mental and physical availability. Arguably
The harder task is mental availability – defined as making your brand ‘easier to access in someone’s memory in more buying situations and for more people’. To be at the forefront of a consumer’s memory the brand needs to trigger an emotional response, or as Sharp refers to it ‘create memory structures,’ so that even when faced with multiple options, the consumer goes for the one they know and trust.
Consumers and donors alike are more likely to settle for good enough rather than the perfect fit, which is why brand loyalty is so important. If a consumer and donor can remember and access your brand, they are more likely to become repeat customers. For brand loyalty, your brand needs to be recognisable (Skating Panda will be posting how-to tips on what makes a strong brand in future posts), it should evoke an emotional response from your audience and it needs to be
Mental availability is about more than just impactful visuals and consistent marketing messaging
The Charity Commission’s 2018 ‘Trust in Charities’ report lists one of the key benchmarks of the public’s trust in charity as being when ‘their organisational cultures and behaviours support their charitable purposes’. Charitable organisations have purpose at the heart of what they do, they are essentially built around an issue and so should have a head start on the corporate world if they can align this intrinsic strength with mental and physical availability.
On the other hand, it is not just charities who are being judged on their organisation’s purpose, behaviours and values. The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: In
Bridging two worlds
Charities have a natural advantage of being built around a purpose. It is therefore important that charities can align activities and campaigns to this, whilst taking on lessons from the corporate world to ensure the optimum physical and mental availability of their brand.
Corporates, on the other hand, are well versed in brand strategy and practice – including physical and mental availability. However, they increasingly need to recognise and understand the changing public sentiment and expectations to ensure their purposes are clearly defined and evident.
Put simply, a clear purpose and a set of values that people on the outside and inside can identify with, and that are distinctive and memorable, can be a source of competitive – and brand – advantage – whether you’re a commercial
By Charlotte Highmore, Strategist, Skating Panda