Connecting branding to fundraising

Is your brand clear, compelling and consistent? Do your fundraising offers faithfully represent your brand? When branding and fundraising support each other, guess what? Your donors will respond.

The chatter continues:

  • “Branding kills fundraising.”
  • “Direct response marketing is all about measurement. Brand is abstract.”
  • “Direct marketers are undermining their own brands with short-term results that destroy long-term trust and value.”

Etc., etc., etc.

I heard these comments a decade or more ago. And still they continue. Why? Several reasons:

  • Ignorance: Brand people don’t get direct response. And vice versa.
  • Arrogance: Direct response people look down on brand. And vice versa.
  • Poor examples: Organizations and their agencies have executed poorly. They either start out with a brand that isn’t solid, or implement it without concern for donors and their needs.
  • Inconsistency: In the end, the number-one characteristic of a successful brand is consistency. And let’s face it. Most organizations aren’t consistent. We routinely see well-intentioned ministries with bright, capable staff launch a brand successfully. But then, 6 to 12 months down the road, they feel they’ve been saying the same thing over and over. They think they need something fresh, something novel. So they change their messaging, which in turn changes their brand. Soon, they no longer have a brand.

The sad thing is that most of your audiences don’t actually start picking up on your new messaging for about 3 years. Yep, 3 years. It takes a lot of touch points saying the exact thing over and over before it registers with your donors. And most organizations simply don’t stick with it that long.

So what can you do?

Ask yourself if you really even have a clear and distinctive brand. What do you do better than anyone else? What one-sentence description captures your unique contribution to the world? What is your “take” on the services you provide? What promise can you keep that no one else can?

Your mission is what you do. Your brand is the distinctive way you carry out that mission. Dozens of other organizations may share your mission. The question is, What’s your take on that mission? How do you do it differently? That’s your brand.

Once you know your brand, you then start the careful process of aligning your brand with not only your general messaging, but with your specific offers to donors. Never lose sight of what makes a good offer. But tweak them to represent your brand. You need a clear and compelling brand to start with. But once you know that, connecting it to your fundraising isn’t as hard as some people think.

But it does require cooperation and integration. You need your direct response people to review your brand to make sure it’s practical and grounded in reality. You need your brand people to review your offers to make sure they are differentiated and consistent with all your other messaging. When you get these elements all working together, guess what? Donors respond.

Want to find out more?

Join me for a free webinar on leveraging your brand to improve your fundraising: Thursday, February 25, at 10 a.m. PST/1 p.m. EST.

Sign up for the webinar here.