Nonprofit Branding: The Expensive Way To Cut Costs

iStock_000019827873SmallRESEARCH: For years marketing, public relations and advertising firms have studied the effectiveness of all forms of advertising and other marketing communications.

CONCLUSION: This is the finding pops up in study after study : nothing can put your nonprofit mission in front of more people, more often, more positively and with less cost per impression, than high-quality imprinted products!

ALERT:  Despite the above finding, there is a risk: powerful as they are, products imprinted with your logo can create a marketing disaster for your brand-intensive nonprofit.

TRUST: For nearly 30 years we built our reputation by protecting clients from the downside of the promotional products industry.  Trust us – and take the following to heart:

once a product with your logo is out in the hands of end-users, it is forever beyond your control. Yet as long as it survives, or as long as it is remembered ……that imprinted product will affect your organization’s brand equity in ways that are helpful. Or ways that are harmful.

CONTEXT: The above statement should be essential dogma for a nonprofit marketing professional. It is bullet-proof! Here’s why:

  • Your organization has built a constituency of supporters who share commitment to your mission. Your marketing efforts strategically encourage that commitment.
  • Your logo symbolizes your brand. To your constituents it represents intangible virtues – personal allegiance, organizational mission and programs, pride of association, the impulse to engage; support of specific results.
  • Your constituency generates a revenue stream to finance your work.
  • The revenue stream is voluntary. It is based on constituent affinity.
  • Your logo, the symbol of brand and mission, energizes that affinity AND serves the owner as a billboard of association. For the end-user, the  product with your logo become a form of self-branding.

OOPS!  Personal  dynamics of pride, association and identity are all involved. Those dynamics lay a heavy hand on branding products. The result: a tacky product, or a product that disappoints the owner, does not benefit the organization whose logo it carries.

The totebag with the broken zipper remains in the closet. The pen that quit writing is tossed. The T-shirt with the crappy imprint washes the car. The undependable travel alarm sits in a drawer. The cheap looking travel mug does not travel.

These products weaken the owner’s affinity and support for the organization they represent!

CONTRAST: Unfortunately, when selecting branding products many nonprofit administrators let budget pressure trump market dynamics. They buy for price. They imprint their organization’s logo on the lowest cost option. On the other hand, market-savvy nonprofit leaders buy for quality. They understand that their logo is an asset. That asset is highly valued by the constituency they work so hard to attract. They insist that logo be placed only on quality products.

MANTRA: Do you work in a brand-intensive nonprofit? Does your organization compete in an affinity-market for supporters and resources. If so, here is your major takeaway. Raise your right hand and repeat after me:

Woman with a guilty conscienceTo protect our assets, we must select products that have quality equal to the quality of our mission. Putting our logo on a lesser substitutes is a very expensive way to cut costs.

I am too smart to make that mistake!  Too virtuous. Too good-looking. Too professional!

 Now I must help my colleagues understand  that  choosing branding products because of price is the most expensive way for us to cut costs.

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