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Book Review: Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding

By Tom Watson on November 22, 2010No Comment

There are a lot of lessons in the new book Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding: Seven Principles to Power Extraordinary Results by cause marketing expert Carol Cone along with co-authors Jocelyne S. Daw, Kristian Darigan Merenda, and Anne Erhard, but one stood out for me.

Simplicity powers strong brands.

That lesson is implicit in the first of those seven principles: “Discover the authentic meaning of your brand.” And it is explicit in the excellent UNICEF case study, in which leaders of the iconic international nonprofit recognized that they had to “rehink the brand.” During the process – aimed at doing a better job of explaining in short-form what UNICEF did and reaching more potential donors – the team went back to basics, and looked at the organizational founding and what it stood for. And that DNA revealed a simple mission: the dawn of the child survival movement. That led to “whatever it take to save a child” – a story donors could easily understand and get behind. And it led to the “believe in zero” campaign to  reduce the 24,000 preventable childhood deaths that occur every day to zero.

The book is packed with exercises, checklists, resources, case studies and fresh data on nonprofit brands and can easily be used as a guidebook for nonprofit executives aiming the strengthen their brands and tell a more compelling story. There’s a great section on when to consider a name change, for example. I also found the chapter on building networks for support to be compelling reading.

The last of the seven principles deals with alternative sources of revenue and this area is more problematic. Not every nonprofit can become a store or take part in licensing deals. It doesn’t rise to the level of the other six branding principles, though the examples of Goodwill Industries and others are interesting.

Finally, the appendices and brand snapshots in back of Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding are almost worth the price of the book by themselves. They’re a fine resource for any nonprofit (large or small) taking a hard look at its brand.

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