6 ways workshops deliver more successful rebrands in not for profit

Brand and re-brand projects in UK charities and not for profit involve significant issues. Everyone who works of lends their time in the third sector does so want to deliver the maximum resource to the charitable function or to delivering the services of the organisation to its clients or members. It goes against the grain somewhat to spend resources on the appearance of the organisation (there are plenty of misconceptions around how much does it cost to rebrand a not fot profit) even if the senior staff and management board can see the job needs doing.

Although this sounds pessimistic it is sometimes as well to remember that a problem anticipated can mean it is a problem well on the way to being solved. It isn’t just a question of seeing the problem as an opportunity, though that helps, it is about building a process that recognises the distinct nature of charity, NGO and not for profit businesses and goes with the flow of the culture.

As Public Impact developed and updated brands of businesses and not-for-profits we developed a workshop approach that is part education, part engagement exercise and part internal research. We now strongly recommend the approach to clients as a mean of addressing six typical issues that commonly arise in brand and re-brand projects. So in no particular order here are 6 ways workshops deliver more successful rebrands in not for profit:

1. Creating staff ownership of the Brand

The success of any brand project will ultimately stand or fall on the commitment of the staff to the brand. They are the people who must implement the brand on a daily basis. They are the people who must be able to brief agencies, partners and volunteers on how the brand should be presented and represented. Unless their commitment is secured the brand will fail – so it is imperative to include staff in the development of the brand. Properly structured workshops create the space for constructive input to the design thinking of the agency that can be reflected in the outcome. This isn’t and should never be ‘design by committee’ but it should visibly inform the design process.

2. Gaining Trustee/Management Board ‘buy-in’ to the Brand

Trustees bring diverse experiences to the governance of UK charities, NGOs and not for profit bodies. They also bring an obligation to safeguard the finances of the organisation and in doing so trustees seek to protect the resources of the organisation and maximise spend on the client or advocacy function. Trustees need to understand both the need for and the benefits of re-brand. However experience of trustees is varied and there is no guarantee anyone on a board will have expertise in brand promotion or development. Workshops for the board and senior management enable the understanding of brand, the perceptions of the organisation and the benefits and opportunities created by the re-brand process to be understood generating commitment and ‘buy-in’ to the process.

3. Building consensus around brand values

Brand values workshops are very common and, to some extent, have been misused as a management tactic. Used poorly brand values can become simply another tick box list or in the worst cases sticks to be used in internal battles. Used properly brand values build a consensus that can help drive the development of the brand. Where they exist and are used well they act as a ‘given’ around which consensus over the brand’s direction and promotion can be built. Without values in place the workshop process can develop ‘working values’ around which a common purpose for the project can develop.

4. Creating a better understanding of brand  

In the modern world we are bombarded with branding every day. Estimates vary on just how many brands we see or hear every day. It can run into thousands. In terms of direct commercial advertising messages most reckoning suggests 250-300, while brands run much higher, perhaps above 3,000 – that’s about three a minute. Sounds high, but if I said I could see a dozen different brands just on the very small desk at which I am writing this blog you get some idea. All that said there is only limited understanding of what a brand is and what empathies brands seek to create through an ever more sophisticated visual vocabulary that now transcends spoken language in a globalised world. Workshops create some understanding of brand, explore the way brand message act on individuals enabling participants better to contribute to the development and management of their own brand.

5. Scoping Brand management issues for the organisation

It isn’t just the creation or modernisation of a brand that can be aided through a workshop process but the management and on-going promotion of the brand asset. Many organisations, commercial and charitable,neglect the management of the brand. In some cases it is because they don’t understand the concept of brand, in some cases it is because they lack the visual skills in others the promotional or marketing skills to understand how a brand is projected. Brand workshops enable the brand consultants better to understand the culture of the organisation and the skills available and so become better able to make the realistic and necessary recommendations for a successful brand management programme.

6. Understanding the benefits a re-brand offers to charities and not for profit

Finally, perhaps the most elementary of all the aspects of brand that can be tackled through a workshop process is the notion that brand is cost rather than investment and fundraising opportunity. Exercises examining brand investment against the creation of promotional opportunity are simple but effective in getting the team thinking about how to generate return on investment in your charity or not-for-profit brandand can be a vital aspect of creation of brand understanding.

There are probably more benefits to a workshop approach, but it is important to say that, first, every organisation is different, second, that every not-for-profit has a specific culture that needs to be grasped when setting up the programme and that workshop programmes will vary considerably according to the size of the organisation. Most significantly, workshops are a two way process – it is as much an opportunity for the brand consultants and designers to understand the thinking of the organisation as it is for the organisation better to understand brand.

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