Here at Madison Ave. Collective, we have a tested naming process for creating a memorable name that engages your most critical audiences and positions you for success.
It’s one thing to deliver an excellent student experience on campus; quite another to build an excellent website. Between us and one of our long-term clients, Colleges of Distinction, we’ve evaluated a countless number of college and university websites — the good, the bad, and everything in between.
In this article we’d like to share some of what we’ve learned, so that you can help your own higher ed website achieve excellence.
Let’s start with some of the most common issues we’ve seen in higher ed websites. Does any of this sound familiar?
No message. Many university websites lack a strong brand story. Also, they’re not sending targeted messages to defined audiences, prompting them to take specific actions.
No differentiation. What makes you different from other institutions? Whether or not you can articulate it internally, we’ve noticed many schools aren’t communicating it clearly online.
Internal focus. It’s easy to get so absorbed in the internal workings of your administration, faculty, and staff that you lose sight of what new students or donors need from your website.
Lots of sub-brands. Do you have a different microsite for each department? The ensuing chaos makes brand consistency a far-off dream — and maintaining the various logos, page templates, and back-end technologies is hard work. More importantly, an inconsistent experience for prospective students, donors, and other users can be jarring and off-putting.
Content clutter. Is your website a recruitment tool? an enrollment driver? a resource for students and faculty? … or is it a repository of all the information you’ve ever used, most of it out of date?
For every challenge, there’s a best practice to resolve it. Let’s look at a few of the most helpful rules we’ve noted from our experience.
Think strategically. A strategy is four things: a problem, a goal, a plan, and a result. Where is your website falling short? Where do you want it to be? Answer that, and you can plan a path to action.
Think like a user. Is the hierarchy of info logical? Are pages organized to meet the user’s most pressing needs first? Have you mapped the paths that users take and built a coherent journey?
Make action easy. Every call to action should be clear and convincing, and the conversion points — the places where users take those actions —should be easy to find and respond to.
Cross all those Ts. Every area of your website should be an extension of your brand. The design should be mobile-responsive, accessible from any device. It also needs to be ADA-compliant.
Establish metrics. Without a way to measure success, who’s to say if your efforts are paying off? We know it can be tricky to identify objective markers — but it can be done, and it’s essential.
When it comes to choosing an agency, there are two options: the conventional route, and the streamlined route.
Scan for strategy. Many creative professionals make beautiful work — but the point isn’t just to look pretty. It’s to accomplish the goals of your organization and meet the needs of your stakeholders. How do your candidates propose to do so? Do they have a proven process for delivering results?
Invest in discovery. Your partner should talk to internal and external stakeholders, perform a brand audit and competitive analysis, and research your history, values, goals, and competitors. Up-front research is the necessary foundation for getting started and will guide decision-making throughout the project.
Avoid death by committee. When collecting initial input, ask everyone. Make sure key stakeholders and representatives from every target audience have an opportunity to be heard. But when making decisions, establish a small, tight-knit team with the judgement to weigh conflicting perspectives and make the call.
Be bold. Today’s degree-seekers aren’t looking for the same old / same old. Don’t be afraid to look and sound different. We know standing out can be scary — but when you do, great things can happen.
The tips above may seem simple, but make no mistake: they’re game changers. After researching and auditing countless higher ed websites, we’ve seen these principles bear out over long and close observation. We hope they help you achieve excellence in your website, too.
This article is also published on Medium.
It happens all the time. In just about every meeting with every client there’s a point when words stop working as expected. You say one thing; your client hears another.
Miscommunication with clients is particularly frustrating because as branding designers we are in the business of communication. We pride ourselves in our ability to simplify the complex. We leap at the challenge to transform a mess of disjointed inputs into an elegant output. We labor long hours, fine-tuning our client’s communications in order to ensure their message is easy to understand and easy to act upon.
But then, inevitably, it happens. While you’re pitching that all-important big idea to a new client—or even just trying to describe the thing on your screen to someone over the phone — the understanding of a word gets in the way.
It happened the other day at our office. A couple members of our design team were meeting with an important client who works in the online security space. Our work for this client includes the development of a branding toolkit that includes about thirty icons for them to use in presentations and on their website. In addition to this expansive set of simple icons, we’re also developing a handful of more detailed illustrations for their website. These larger illustrations are being used to support paragraphs of written content about our client’s services and target industries. Together, the icons and illustrations come together to form an infographic we’re designing to communicate the various methods and tools our client uses to keep the Internet safer for everyone.
Problem was, several words kept getting mixed up as our conversation with the client bounced around between different pages of the website and other branding elements we were discussing. When one of our designers began talking about adding texture to the illustrations, it took a minute to realize the client was actually talking about the iconography. And when someone on the client side mentioned the logo could be bigger, we suggested increasing the logotype but keeping the size of the logo’s icon unchanged, given the space restraints. Now wait, which icon are we talking about again?
Backtracking to untangle the word jumbles cost everyone in the meeting extra time and resulted in a wee bit of frustration on my part. But the problem wasn’t a lack of listening. The problem was a lack of agreement about what these words meant by those sitting around the table.
So I asked myself: What could we have done better, in advance of this client review meeting, to make sure everyone was in agreement on the basic definition of terms?
One way could have been through the development of a more comprehensive brand book. In fact, whenever a client hires us to develop a branding system we always recommend including an identity guide or brand book as part of our deliverables. Whether it’s just a few short pages (we call this an identity guide) or something longer and more elaborate (we call this a brand book), the document is a valuable tool that can — when done correctly — improve communication between our firm and the various stakeholders on the client side.
The brand book we initially created for the client described above included some information about the various types of artwork we developed. Unfortunately, we missed an opportunity to clearly define the difference between “icon” and “illustration.” These are illustrations. Those are icons. This is how we use the illustrations. That is how we use icons.
An early draft of the brand book didn’t do this, but we’re now updating the document to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Another way to get in sync with a new client is to give them a list of branding terms, with definitions, that you anticipate will be used during your time of working together. Best to do this early in the process — well before you start designing anything.
Below is a list of nine words, with definitions, that in my experience get used (and misused) most often when branding designers and their clients attempt to communicate.
1 | Brand: A brand is a noun. It’s a thing. More specifically, a brand is how someone might describe your organization’s reputation. It’s what your customers think or feel when they think of you. Example: Apple’s brand is about style, while Dell’s brand is about … meh.
2| Branding: The ing tells us that branding is an action. Developing your organization’s logo is an act of branding design. Likewise, the act of applying your brand identity elements (your logo, color palette, fonts, etc.) to say, a brochure or a website, is an act of branding application.
3 | Logo: Unless we’re specifically talking about the mark a branding iron burns into the hide of cattle, your logo is not your brand. Conversely, your brand is not your logo. These two words shouldn’t be swapped around willy nilly. A logo is a distinctive visual mark that represents a brand. It visually identifies the brand in a similar way that a name, when spoken, audibly identifies the brand. Most logos include two elements: 1) typographic letterforms called a logotype; and 2) an illustrated component called an icon.
4 | Logotype: The letterforms of a logo, especially when distinctly designed to represent your brand, are called a logotype. Examples of stand-alone logotypes are Coca-Cola, FedEx, and Samsung. Another word for logotype is wordmark.
5 | Icon: If your logo has an illustrated component that is separate from its letterforms, this part of the logo is often called an icon. It generally will communicate a singular idea, although designers often enjoy packing multiple (sometimes hidden) meanings within a single icon. Synonymous terms are symbol and mark. My advice: whatever word you choose, pick one and stick to it. Big brands with household names like Nike, Apple, and McDonald’s can get away with using an icon alone as a recognizable substitute for their full logo. In these instances, the icon may be referred to as a brandmark.
6 | Iconography: A collection of icons — separate from the logo— used within a brand’s visual identity system can be referred to as iconography. A defining characteristic of the individual icons is that they’re simple. Iconography, therefore, is a set of simple illustrated icons.
7 | Tagline: This is a descriptive statement. It’s a short, useful phrase that’s tagged onto your logo. Its purpose is to describe what your organization does, how people can benefit from your services, or something else that differentiates your organization from others. Below is a logo and tagline developed by the MAC for a company that produces heirloom-quality furniture with a lifetime warranty.
8 | Slogan: This is a marketing statement. There are significant differences between a slogan and a tagline, which I’ve written about in more detail here. Slogans are catchy phrases you could lead marketing campaigns with, and when at their best will make you feel something. Many big brands will change their slogans often (remember Food, Folks, and Fun?), but others (e.g. Just Do It) stick around for years.
9 | Lockup: When a logotype, icon, and tagline (or marketing slogan) come together as a single piece of artwork — and delivered say, as a single JPEG or EPS file —you’ve got yourself a lockup. This word can also be used to describe multiple logos, such as a parent company logo and a sub-brand logo, that are used together.
Well, those are the big ones. Did I miss something from your list of misunderstood design terms? Feel free to copy/paste the definitions above and drop them onto your own company letterhead. Then, pass it around the table at the beginning of your next design review meeting.
This article is also published on Medium.
Let’s come right out and say it: technology branding strategies are undervalued.
In an industry racing to define the future, the short-term rush of product marketing too often steals focus from the slower wheel of brand development. It’s easy to see why. The big picture, the deeper story, the overarching audience relationship feels less urgent by comparison. Less important.
Major tech brands like Google, AT&T, and Microsoft would disagree.
“When I first started my career in high-tech B2B marketing, I didn’t know what branding was,” said Juliette Rizkallah, CMO at SailPoint. “I was trained in product management and product marketing, and in my mind if the product was good, that was all the company needed.”
The same mistake is common in Silicon Valley, where it’s easy to “think that the best product will beat out all of the competition,” said Samantha Warren, Experience Design Manager at Adobe Stock + Typekit. Problem is, the best products don’t always make the most successful companies, Warren said.
In fact, according to entrepreneur Larry Alton, “not having a brand” tops the list of mistakes that tech startups are prone to make.
Your technology branding strategy deserves at least as much attention as the evolution of your tech. Strategically, it’s the foundation that supports everything you aspire to do — so how to make it a good one?
To answer that question, let’s see what we can learn from some of the strongest technology branding strategies out there. Microsoft, Google, and AT&T are counted among the top 25 “biggest technology brands of the world.” They each invest significant energy in their branding, using it to unite many disparate offerings into a coherent family while expressing a focused emotional undercurrent that draws customers to their door.
There are many aspects of the example they set that we could highlight — but one secret they all have in common is simply this:
A brand promise is one, at most two, core concepts that express your basic value proposition and sum up why your customers choose your brand.
These promises look simple, right? And so they should. A brand promise needs to represent a clear, simple idea that’s easy to wrap your mind around.
But defining a promise of your own is usually harder than it looks. Working with technology firms here at the MAC, we’ve found that when you’re deep in the weeds in product development and internal company dynamics, it’s not easy to zoom in on the one true idea that effectively distills your identity into a few words — the core, unifying, emotionally-resonant promise that’s strong enough, important enough, and authentic enough to provide a lasting foundation for your brand.
Nonetheless, it’s a challenge that all technology branding strategies must overcome in order to succeed. Following are a few tips to get you moving in the right direction.
Our client Shadowserver is a nonprofit organization working quietly behind the scenes to make the Internet more secure for everyone. Their vision of “a more secure Internet” provides focus for everything they do. Thanks to the altruism that drives it, Shadowserver has built credibility with cyber security teams across the globe and pioneered a radical shift toward collaboration and transparency in their field.
That’s the power of a vision. If you know what you’re aiming for and why, your tactical efforts can converge upon a goal that not only makes you more effective internally, but gives your external audiences a reason to rally with you.
Ask yourself this: how does your company vision benefit your audience? Articulate the answer, and you’ll be one step closer to a strong brand promise.
What are you doing well, that no one else is doing at all?
Your unique selling proposition (or USP) is a fundamental component of your brand. It defines who your audience is and why they care about you: vital information when claiming your position in the heavily saturated technology market.
Defining your USP is a principal goal of our discovery process at the MAC. We unearth it through a thorough competitive analysis, informed by extensive interviews with internal and external stakeholders. Once we’ve defined your USP, we build on that with your visual identity and essential messaging components — not the least of which is your brand promise.
When a customer purchases your product, does it give them the power of a magician to transform reality? That’s the storyline behind the Apple brand, and it’s a good one.
Does it turn them into a rebel, subverting expectations and rewriting the rules? In past decades, Apple tried that story on for size, too.
Does it make your customer a creator who reenvisions the world around them? Sony told that story when advertising its cameras.
There are many ways to tell a compelling story with your brand. The point is, all great technology branding strategies tell one.
Think of it this way. If your brand story defines the relationship between your company and your audience (who are you to them? who do you help them become?), your brand promise drives the plot. It’s the kernel at the center, around which the rest of the story spins.
There’s a silver lining to the fact that technology firms tend to undervalue branding. It means that by defining yours, you can develop an edge on your competitors.
In that spirit, we encourage you to step back from the lemming rush on the short term, and pause for a moment to reflect on what you do and why (your vision). Identify what’s unique about your offerings, a quality not shared with anyone else in the world (your USP). Figure out why your customers care; then brainstorm who that makes you by extension (your story).
Out of these exercises, your brand promise will emerge.
Need a hand? We’ll be here for you.
This article is also published on Medium.
Branding touches on every aspect of your organization, including who you are and who you strive to be. Use this brand strategy framework to help you begin to articulate who you are as an organization (your brand identity) and identify where you may face gaps or inconsistencies.
You’ve spent countless hours developing a game-changing technology. You know all the nitty gritty details of its functionality and want to showcase your technical skills and knowledge.
Your website is laden with pages of detailed descriptions, specs, and a chronology of product development.
But, the people aren’t listening. The problem — your granular descriptions don’t compute.
When people visit your website and encounter dense paragraphs, they’re likely to click away. These details matter to you, but they likely do not speak to your customers.
A technology branding strategy will help make your nonhuman offerings relatable to humans.
Even if you’ve found the perfect combination of price point and performance, if you don’t have a branding strategy, you’re missing a piece of the formula.
Having a strong brand to lean on will:
Brand strategy is a broad topic, encompassing a defined organizational purpose, consistent brand behavior, an emotional impact, and more.
A key purpose of a strong technology branding strategy is to inject humanness into your brand. We can accomplish this by defining your brand personality and the emotional response you want to elicit from your audience.
Consider the following brand personalities and examples to help guide your own brand strategy development, and transform your robotic interactions into interactions that grow customer loyalty.
A reinforcer brand confirms its audience’s perspective. They’re dialed in on their consumers desires and needs.
If you’re serving a particular industry or narrow audience, this is likely your strategy of choice.
With a specific offering that resonates on a deep level, your audience will gleefully form a community.
For example, VMWare, a leading enterprise technology company, offers a diverse selection of products and services ranging from cloud management to data security. Its healthcare solutions target the industry’s needs specifically with digital workspaces, data security, and IoT for hospitals and clinics.
Its brand personality can be observed in its web content, which is centered on use cases and the end user. What you don’t find here is a slew of technical specs and product development history.
VMWare reinforces its relevance by building community with an active social media presence and blog. Its brand is actively aligning its offerings with its consumer’s worldview to build trust and community.
Takeaway: As a reinforcer brand, pinpoint ways to closely tie your offerings to your audience’s needs and desires. To live out your brand personality, integrate messages that encourage collaboration, community, and trust.
A supporter brand invites behavior modifications or improvements. They’re solving a problem with an innovative solution that asks their audience to make a change.
If you’re a supporter brand, you can win your customer’s heads and hearts with educational resources and inspirational stories.
IBM’s suite of collaboration platforms invites employers to find the tools that empower their people to “do what they do best.” The product video presents complicated technology in an inspiring and captivating way.
Takeaway: As a supporter brand, look for opportunities to help your audience make adaptations so they can successfully use your product or service. Focus your messages on empowerment, rather than product capabilities. Be your customer’s cheerleader.
A challenger technology brand questions the status quo and offers a groundbreaking alternative. They’re persuasive and rebellious.
Its audience also thrives on thinking outside the box and regularly seeks alternatives.
Slack, a business application, challenged the way teams do work. The founders questioned the logic of disconnected channels and created a centralized hub for all communication and collaboration needs.
Slack centers its brand on the need to change workplace behavior. This message comes through in its product video and social media content.
Takeaway: As a challenger brand, you can activate your audience with a directive to change their behavior. But be tactful. If you’re too pushy, your approach will backfire.
Whether you’re a reinforcer, supporter, or challenger, a technology branding strategy can bridge the gap between your human audience and your nonhuman offerings.
Each of these strategies focuses on the end user rather than the ins and outs of the product or service itself.
Choose a brand personality that aligns with your organization, and centralize your messaging on that persona. The result — a technology brand strategy coded for humans.
This article is also published on Medium.
We start all new development projects with an extensive research and strategy phase called Discovery, which can save you from unexpected delays and costs by identifying challenges early, so they can be addressed. This worksheet is no replacement for a thorough Discovery, but it will streamline the start of your custom website or mobile app project by helping you organize your thoughts and needs.
Nonprofits exist to make an impact. And branding can help you deepen the impact you make: clarifying your goals, translating your mission into a powerful story, and bringing your entire organization into alignment.
The importance of branding for nonprofits is well expressed by several notable names, including the World Wildlife Fund, The Red Cross, and Cancer Research UK, all of which are “widely recognized,” as “people from all over the world know what they do and who they are,” said Dan Linn at Solution Link. Why are these organizations well known? — “because they have a great brand strategy.”
Developing such a strategy is a complex task that touches on many different areas, all of which are achievable with the right expertise. What’s often most difficult lies closer to home: getting internal buy-in from your team during the branding process.
Today we’re going to share a simple technique to help you move through that challenge successfully. Before we go there, let’s start by looking at some of the markers of a strong brand.
A strong brand is one that differentiates your nonprofit from others in the same space. One that harnesses the power of storytelling to communicate what you do in a way that inspires people to join in your mission. One that builds credibility by expressing your leadership, your impact, and your partnerships.
To bring these thoughts to life, let’s see how our client, the Center for Small Farms and Community Food Systems at Oregon State University, does so.
The Center for Small Farms hired the MAC to strengthen their brand with a messaging toolkit that included an elevator pitch, several audience-specific value propositions, and extended copywriting appropriate for a variety of applications (such as a website or brochure).
Here are a few excerpts that demonstrate some of the principles we mentioned above.
“The Center for Small Farms and Community Food Systems is a leader in sustainable, local food production. We’re working all over Oregon to unravel challenges and create innovation in farming communities.”
“Small farms boost local economies, support the environment, promote public awareness, and build community resilience. And every dollar of support helps us do more.”
“We have partners in every corner of the industry, who trust us because we’re effective and support us because it matters.”
By developing language designed to strengthen our client’s brand, we helped the nonprofit position itself to reach larger donors and pursue its financial goals.
That said, doing good work is only part of the process. How a nonprofit handles feedback within its team plays a major role in determining how successful that work will be.
It’s one thing to hire an agency to partner with you on your branding. It’s quite another to persuade your internal stakeholders on that partner’s strategic recommendations.
The disconnect comes down to a difference in what we know, and where we’re standing.
The staff and board of a nonprofit are experts in doing the work of the organization, and they typically care a great deal about that work. Specialists within a branding firm, meanwhile, are experts in brand communication.
Sometimes it’s hard for internal stakeholders to trust external expertise, because it stems from a skill set and rationale outside their own experience.
Internal stakeholders are insiders: they have powerful insight into the nonprofit’s values and offerings. But being immersed also lends itself to blind-spots about how your organization is perceived by those you seek to reach.
Sometimes the creative solutions that meet the needs of your external audiences feel counterintuitive to an insider. When doing the tremendously important work of branding, it’s crucial to see from the outside in.
The solution to this challenge is disarmingly simple. Change the goal from “getting everyone’s buy-in” to “hearing everyone’s input.”
It’s rare for everyone on a large team to agree on anything, let alone on creative decisions. In fact, perfect consensus can be detrimental to creative work. The most daring, noticeable, memorable, and effective ideas are also the most likely to get cut right off the bat, leaving only the safest and blandest ideas to be getting on with.
Great branding isn’t the result of unanimous committee agreement. It’s the work of small, tightly focused teams with the experience, research, and insight to make decisions that prove their worth over time.
To be clear, it’s vital to include your team in the branding process. As internal experts, their perspectives are invaluable. As ambassadors of your brand, they need to be on the same page about what it all means. And as human beings, they’re sure to feel frustrated if they’re ignored.
Switching the focus from buy-in to feedback addresses all these needs at once.
Be proactive about collecting input from those with the vantage point to offer meaningful feedback. Listen well, evaluate how their input aligns with stated project goals, and integrate what’s useful.
Don’t count on getting 100 percent buy-in on any step of the branding process. Allow yourself to rule out feedback that’s off target. Expect some amount of disagreement with your decisions. It’s normal for people to dislike what they aren’t used to; that’s a human impulse.
Remember, the goal isn’t to please everyone on your team, but to make decisions that empower your organization to do its best work.
When you take this approach, beautiful things can happen. Even amid internal disagreement, proactive listening combined with confident leadership can bring an entire team together.
The client we mentioned earlier in this article is a case in point. Here’s how the process went for the Center for Small Farms.
The result was a strong, unified messaging toolkit, which will help the entire nonprofit unify their voice throughout the state of Oregon. And because each team member knows their voice was heard, they’re ready to stand behind it.
At the MAC we understand how hard it can be for nonprofit teams to navigate internal politics, avoid the pitfalls of committee decision-making, and gather multiple perspectives into a productive consensus. It’s a process we’ve helped many of our clients navigate.
In fact, we see it as part of our job as a branding partner to provide this type of guidance, helping each organization work through their internal process successfully to arrive at a final product that truly serves their goals.
Hard work? Sure, it can be.
Worth every minute? Absolutely.
This article is also published on Medium.
Branding for nonprofits is not just a fundraising tactic. In fact, it’s not a tactic at all. Branding is a strategy that serves as the compass for your different initiatives.
A strong brand builds your trustworthiness and credibility. And the best way to grow trust and connect people to your nonprofit is through brand storytelling.
Your story creates a connection between your organization and individuals. It invites them to get involved and shape a future narrative.
We’re not just telling a story to entertain. The goal is to tell a story that draws people in and inspires them to share it with their own connections. You want to engage your audience in a powerful way that elicits emotional connection that translates to taking action.
You may doubt your ability to tell a captivating story. You may even doubt that your nonprofit has a story worth telling. But I say, baloney.
You don’t lack the ability and you’re not without a story. What you’re missing is a framework to weave your nonprofit’s brand into a story that wins you followers.
For this, we’ll turn to Joseph Campbell.
Campbell, a mythological researcher, was best known for his work in comparative mythology and religion. Through his studies he discovered a common narrative pattern called the hero’s journey.
The hero’s journey provides a foundational framework that can be applied to crafting a captivating brand story that has emotional appeal, is relatable, and will draw people in.
We’ll roughly follow Campbell’s concept to illustrate how you can use the hero’s journey to tell your nonprofit’s brand story. A quick case study on the nonprofit charity:water will provide a concrete example of how to put the framework into action.
Every story needs a main character or protagonist. This character (or hero) is someone or something that your audience can identify with and have empathy for.
Your main character is likely your founder, but it could also be your nonprofit as a whole, your product, or service.
Once you’ve identified your main character, list out their main personality traits and attributes. These attributes can help you connect with your audience in a humanistic way.
Charity:water’s main character is its founder Scott Harrison. Years of promoting nightclubs and fashion events in New York left him financially successful but spiritually bankrupt.
This tension and frustration was his trigger. Harrison asked himself, “What would the opposite of my life look like?”
He leaned in to the trigger and signed up for an eight-month volunteer position on Mercy Ships: hospital ships that provide free medical service to the world’s poorest nations.
Your hero’s conflict doesn’t need to be absolutely gut-wrenching to be inspiring or believable. But without conflict, your story is a lullaby.
Since you’re a nonprofit, the conflict to include in your story is likely found in your mission statement. Your conflict is the issue or problem you are determined to solve.
For Cornerstone Associates, a client of the MAC, the main conflict it addresses are the barriers people with mental and physical disabilities face in becoming integrated into the community.
For Harrison, when he was volunteering with Mercy Ships, he encountered a level of poverty and disease that he didn’t know existed. This experience conflicted with what he believed to be an acceptable standard of living and became the impetus for starting his nonprofit.
When speaking to their followers, charity:water invites people to imagine what life would be like without water. This stirs up an inner conflict with the goal of encouraging people to get involved with the nonprofit’s cause.
The struggle with conflict leads to the eventual revelation that the issue or problem can be addressed.
For your nonprofit’s story, the revelation could be how your founder discovered a solution to a specific problem or how a service you offer addresses a specific need.
When Harrison returned to New York, he was determined to address the medical problems related to inadequate access to clean drinking water.
On his 31st birthday, he launched charity:water by asking for donations of $31 instead of gifts. This first step to addressing the identified problem brought in $15,000 and helped build the nonprofit’s first wells.
For followers of charity:water, they understand how their financial contributions or sweat equity contribute to improved health and quality of life.
This is the part of the story where you show how your nonprofit is solving an issue in a unique way. Through the transformation, you illustrate the value you provide. This transformation invites your followers to to connect with you on an emotional and logical level.
The brand story for charity:water contains two transformations. Harrison was personally transformed, and through his nonprofit he is transforming the lives of others.
Now that you have a foundational framework, get out there and look for your brand stories. Stories are developing every day; you just have to be willing to look.
Look for small, specific stories that bring your brand to life. How did a project help one person? Was a volunteer transformed by working with your nonprofit?
By working with the hero’s journey framework and being on constant alert for intriguing stories, you’re well armed to craft a story that solidifies your nonprofit brand in people’s minds and wins you followers.
When you tell a captivating story, you humanize your nonprofit and invite connection. When you strike a chord, your story will inspire people to follow along and actively help you achieve your mission.
This article is also published on Medium.
As a healthcare marketer, you long to be top-of-mind when someone is looking for a new provider. You strive to get these patients in the door and harness decades-long loyalty.
You know that cultivating a healthcare branding strategy will help you stand out in the marketplace, attract new patients, and top-notch physicians. But when you receive requests for a slew of tactical materials, the importance of branding gets lost in the noise.
Do the following, and you will be well on your way to crafting a more strategic brand for your healthcare organization.
Before launching a complete brand overhaul, you must conduct thorough research. To use a healthcare analogy — must treat the cause, not the symptoms.
Only after gathering qualitative and quantitative data can you progress to pinpointing your brand strategy.
When Samaritan Health Services selected Madison Ave. Collective for a regional public health awareness initiative, we analyzed comparable campaigns, interviewed their leaders, and talked to doctors, patients, and health administrators.
This information directed every decision to bring the PainWise initiative to fruition. We’ll take a closer look later on.
A quick scroll through the positioning statements of the top hospitals in the U.S. reveals the majority claim to be “leaders” and “cutting-edge.”
If your organization is also claiming to be a leader, you’re not alone — and that’s the problem.
We get it. Your positioning statement likely evolved in a committee comprised of your marketing team and hospital’s leading physicians. They want to be innovative leaders, and that’s what made the cut.
To truly differentiate, you need to think long and hard about how you can distinguish yourself in the healthcare industry.
By looking at the overlap of your services and attributes, your competitor’s offerings, and market needs, you will distill your brand position.
From this, a consistent, strong message that resonates with internal and external audiences will evolve.
For instance, maybe you’re the only provider for a certain demographic in a specific region. This powerful claim, matched with aligned services, will communicate a beneficial difference to the patients you want to reach.
A key part of your healthcare branding strategy is to ensure your values are communicated through every single touchpoint.
If you claim to value patients, but keep them on hold for 10 minutes on the phone, guess what — you’re killing your brand.
The phrase “patient experience” has been floating around the healthcare industry for a few years, but there is still room to grow.
A recent Forbes article warned that start-ups, such as Circle Medical Group of California, are quickly filling in the gap where long-standing providers are falling short.
By improving your organization’s online experience with a user-friendly website, patient portals, and online scheduling, you can start to bring your desired brand experience in-line with reality.
Your brand story isn’t about you. It’s about how you relate to the patients you serve.
You may be impressed with a staff physician’s research, but that isn’t tangible to a future patient. What is tangible is how that research was applied to help cure a patient’s disease.
For example, research is a significant focus of St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, but it isn’t the focus of its brand stories. Instead, the children who benefit get the spotlight. Web content focused on children and their stories brings St. Jude’s brand promise to life.
A brand identity is comprised of the messaging (tone, word choice) and visual elements (logo, colors, font) that consistently represent your organization.
To be successful, it must be rooted in research and tightly aligned with your brand position.
For PainWise, we distilled a core message of hope for those who are overcoming opioid addiction.
To represent this visually, we selected photography that communicates hope, chose shades of blue to express trustworthiness and cheerfulness, and added texture to acknowledge the pain experienced by patients.
An often overlooked but essential element of a successful brand strategy is the collaboration of your internal stakeholders. Your physicians, receptionists, and other team members are the real-life expression of your brand. They must understand and support your brand so they can share it authentically.
One way to activate your external audience is through a marketing campaign, such as a brand ambassador program.
For example, the Mayo Clinic invites past and current patients to be a “Mayo Clinic Champion.” Champions (aka brand ambassadors) are encouraged to share their story and advocate for other patients.
Once you have these six areas dialed in, you’ll be on your way to having a solid brand strategy. Developing a brand strategy for your healthcare organization provides you with standard operating procedures (no pun intended!), so the next time your physicians ask for a new logo iteration, you’ll be armed with an informed guide to make the best decision for your brand.
You’ll also be able to protect your brand value, stand out from the competition, and recruit new patients.
This article is also published on Medium.