Competitive positioning for non-profit organizations
How to create a branding statement
It’s an important question every organization should ask itself: what sets you apart from the competition?
Notice I said “organization”. Don’t think that just because you’re part of a non-profit organization you don’t need to put in the time and effort on branding! Nonprofits must be aware of the link between strategic brand equity and its organizational impact.
Here are some things that can happen if you don’t put in the time and effort to create this simple but powerful statement:
* Will probably be confused with similar organizations.
* Your message will be everywhere.
* Potential donors will not trust you.
It is true that large charities have the benefit of a marketing team: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has a director of global brand and innovation, while UNICEF has a head of brand building.
Fortunately, even if it’s just you, it’s not too difficult to come up with a positioning statement that sets you apart from your charitable competition. That is, if you are willing to do a little research and think deeply before you start writing.
What is brand positioning?
First, let’s cover the definition of branding. It is the art of matching your marketing message with the beliefs, feelings, and desires of your ideal customer.
It does this effectively by making itself “visible” as the type of organization that attracts an individual.
However, this statement is not customer-oriented as its motto is. Think of it as an internal statement that supports the ideas before developing specific marketing messages.
It is also important to remember that the positioning of a non-profit brand is a little different than that of a for-profit brand. Here’s why statements are different for charity vs. For a for-profit business: You want people to donate to your cause, but you’re not focused on messaging about lower prices like Walmart is, or picking out bigger showrooms like Ikea.
The competitive positioning of nonprofits focuses more on the “why”: what is their mission? Your product is the good that you are doing.
For example, the “why” of UNICEF is “to protect the rights of all children”.
UNICEF is not focused on undermining the competition or claiming it is the best charity there is. (Also, some charities want to collaborate and support others in their efforts, not necessarily compete against them.)
How to Create a Position Statement for Nonprofits
Now that we’ve cleared up the difference, let’s see how to create your nonprofit positioning statement:
Define your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
It’s great that there are so many nonprofits supporting various causes, but this means that people are faced with overwhelming numbers to choose from. You want them to choose yours.
While you are not selling a product, you are selling a commitment, whether it be to provide clean water to villages or save turtles from extinction. Your PVU is something unique that you have to offer.
Just like a small business owner conducts competitive research before defining their brand, you should do the same for your charity. Do some research on similar charities and find out:
* Who is your audience?
* How are you positioning your brand?
* What are they doing right?
* What are they doing wrong?
This is one of the ways that Charity: Water sets itself apart from other similar nonprofits. They do not focus solely on the fact that they provide clean water to underdeveloped countries. They emphasize that they test each project “with GPS coordinates and remote sensors to ensure that the water always flows.”
Don’t be afraid to be brave.
Think of creative ways to encourage potential donors to contribute to your cause. A website with a few mediocre paragraphs and a donate button is not going to cut it. Neither is a bunch of copies that have the same message as similar charities.
Traditionally, nonprofits have focused on safe and neutral messages; that has changed now. Just look at F ** k Cancer, a health organization working for early detection and prevention of cancer around the world!
While you don’t need to use expletives in your nonprofit branding statement, tagline, logo, or other materials, think outside of “we do well” messages and be a little edgy.
Tell your full story.
Don’t make potential donors try to find out why they support your initiative. Take some time to think deeply about your nonprofit’s positioning statement as it pertains to its story.
Has a family member taken care of the disease you are raising funds to eradicate? Make it personal. Were you passionate about animal rights when you adopted a pet from a shelter? Consider that angle.
Take a look at their About Us page for inspiration. Here’s a local dog rescue story that’s part of everything they do.
Create a narrative around your brand instead of just focusing on what you do. It’s especially important that charities get it right, as many people are naturally suspicious of people asking for money.
Share the knowledge.
It’s one thing to achieve great nonprofit positioning, but getting everyone to join in is essential. Ideally, your team should be involved in developing your branding strategy.
At the very least, they need to understand why it is there and how to use it. Everyone in your organization is brand ambassadors, so give them the tools they need to spread the word to potential donors, family, friends, the grocery store clerk …
Once you’ve created your nonprofit positioning statement, don’t forget it at the bottom of a desk drawer or in a file folder on your PC. See if it’s frequent – when you’re writing a website copy, developing logo designs, and reviewing materials someone else has created.
By using it to influence everything you create, you will have a consistent message across all of your marketing collateral, leading to increased awareness, trust, and giving.