Branding a Non-profit: Definition of a Brand?

A recent discussion on the Twitter non-profit chat #nptalk moderated by @SocialNicole prompted the beginning of a series of posts targeted specifically to non-profit organizations.

After engaging in a series of interesting discussions with a few of the chat’s participants, I found that many non-profits suffer not because of budgetary reasons or staffing constraints but suffer as a result of a weak approach to branding and positioning their non-profit. Since one of the reoccurring themes in the #nptalk chat was about how to effectively brand a non-profit so that its mission, messages, and core values are well communicated to stakeholders, the next few posts will do just that- teach non-profits the importance of designing a multi-layered marketing strategy that effectively brands and positions their organization. Though targeted to non-profits, this information is useful and applicable to any type of organization whether non-profit or for-profit.

Since the definition of a brand is often times blurred, we’ll start this series here.

What is a brand?

United Technologies Corp. Contributes $100,000 to Expand INROADS Outreach Initiative

United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) is donating $100,000 to INROADS, the nation’s largest non-profit provider of paid internships for talented, diverse students of all backgrounds, to support new mentorship programs for high school and college students.

UTC announced the contribution Wednesday during an INROADS New England Region Alumni event.  The contribution strengthens UTC’s 25-year partnership with INROADS and demonstrates the company’s continuous commitment to attracting the best and brightest employees.

“Innovation is critical to UTC’s success in a competitive global economy,” said J. Thomas Bowler Jr., UTC Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Organization. “INROADS is an important pipeline of high-performing employees with diverse perspectives who become catalysts for creative product and process solutions across our businesses.”

Osama Bin Laden’s Death Sparks 27.9 Million Tweets in 2 Hours

The breaking news of Osama Bin Laden’s death proved the massive power of social media. Before President Obama could formally announce the death of Bin Laden, records were already being broken with 3,000 Tweets per second, which totaled to 12.4 Million Tweets per hour or 27.9 Million Tweets in just 2 hours according to @Mashable.

In fact, the first Tweet to break the news of Bin Laden’s death was “I am told by a reputable person they have killed Osama bin Laden. Hot damn,” Tweeted by Keith Urbahn (@keithurbahn), Chief of Staff for the Office of Donald Rumsfeld and Navy Reserve intel officer.

Epic Failure for Sony PlayStation’s PR Crisis

Last week’s hacking of the Sony PlayStation online network and Sony’s subsequent reactions (or non-reaction) is a complete failure in Crisis PR Management 101.

A few things Sony got absolutely wrong that makes me wonder who’s managing their Crisis PR department:

  • Sony waited a week before releasing a public statement regarding the hacker attack. With a powerful network of 77 million gamers Sony can’t afford to remain silent because Microsoft and Nintendo would be more than happy to take a chunk of that 77 million. Lesson for Sony: response time is everything to your brand and reputation. When crisis arises, being proactive and sensitive to the situation and the impact it has on customers potentially helps to mitigate the crisis.

Lessons on How to Make Your Non-profit Successful

I was invited earlier last week to serve as a panelist for the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce’s Business Empowerment Networking Series (BENS) “Mission Possible: How to Make Your Non-profit Successful.” The keynote speakers were Norman Wedderbrun, President & CEO of Make a Wish Foundation of South Florida; Javier A. Soto, President & CEO of The Miami Foundation; and Delores Dunn, President & CEO of Center for Family and Child Enrichment, Inc.

The latter part of the event included Shark Tank 1.0 presented by the Chamber’s Young Professionals Network (YPN). As part of the Shark Tank 1.0, five individuals with an interest in starting a non-profit organization were given an opportunity to pitch their concept before a panel of experts in the fields of marketing, finance, legal, and business development in exchange for constructive criticism, expert guidance, and a chance at a prize package worth $2,500 in consultation. Of course, I provided the marketing expertise among the expert panelists.

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City of Miami Gardens & PlayDate Miami Presents…Give & Play for Relay for Life

Residents and the entire South Florida community is invited to enjoy a fun-filled evening of games and music in support of the City of Miami Gardens’ Relay for Life team.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL, April 11, 2011- In an effort to creatively engage the citizens of Miami Gardens and the South Florida community at large to take part in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event, the City of Miami Gardens has teamed up with PlayDate Miami (subsidiary of Timeless Entertainment Concepts) to host Give & Play for Relay for Life. The event will be held on Friday, April 22nd from 7PM -12AM at the City’s all new Betty T. Ferguson Center located at 3000 NW 199th St, Miami Gardens. Contribution is $10, and proceeds from the Give & Play event will go towards the City’s $15,000 Relay for Life fundraising goal.

Give & Play is a cause-based marketing initiative based on the popular PlayDate brand and offers charities and non-profit organizations a new way to raise awareness and financial support for a worthy cause based on the idea of playing games and having fun. Just like the PlayDate Miami event concept, attendees of Give & Play come out and enjoy all types of classic nostalgic games like Monopoly, Taboo, Scrabble, Uno, Connect Four, and even childhood favorites like Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots and Hungry Hungry Hippos. Interactive games also include a Hula Hoop contest, Twister, Adult Musical Chairs, and even Simon Says.

Sign of the times? New York Times Charging to Read Online

It was inevitable, and we knew it was coming. Citizen journalism, downsizing, social media takeover, Kindle, less print more digital…it was the sign of the times. A sign that print media was changing and changing fast. With less eyes on print and more online, newspapers and magazines alike had to think fast.

How do we continue being the timely source of news and information while competing with online news and citizen generated news all while remaining profitable? After all, with news paper subscriptions shrinking and advertising dollars diminishing, newspaper executives knew that they had to tap into a new source of revenue generation.

Being Coached to Catch Your Own Fish

Let’s face it. Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh (Notice the Miami Heat connection?) are all great players, but without Eric Spoelstra as head coach the dynamic trio are essentially useless as a team. Steve Jobs, founder and CEO of Apple, but without his Board of Directors, CFO, and other executives, Apple couldn’t become the giant that it is today. Likewise, President Obama is our president whom we put our trust in to effectively run our country, but without his team of advisors and economists, he’s useless alone. Get my drift? No man is an island.

We all need coaches to guide, direct, navigate, and check us. Even the best of the best needs a team of coaches or advisors or economists, if you will. Otherwise, the man as an island becomes ineffective. The same logic applies in business, but it’s startling to see the number of small to mid-size businesses and organizations who go at it alone. They spend the time developing the business, painting the picture of how the vision is to be carried out and what it will look like, yet are not equipped with the tools (coaches) who will provide the color to paint with.