A good charity brand should clearly communicate the problem your charity is working on, and how you are going to solve it. Many charities brands are able to do this, but where many struggle is in being clearly differentiated from comparators. Charities work in similar areas trying to solve similar problems, and the public are often unable to tell one charity brand from another.
Creating a brand with a clear personality is key to maintaining strong support from donors, volunteers and staff. We all want to support charities that we understand and feel close to. In our Brand Attributes research we have seen some charities really thrive in creating a unique brand personality.
One brand full of personality and uniqueness is Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders. When participants (who are aware of MSF) are asked which words they spontaneously associate with the charity, they instantly connect it with extraordinary adjectives which define the core of MSF’s brand hypothesis by using words like bravery, selflessness and dedication. As of November 2016, the brands that score the highest as coming across as trustworthy are Samaritans, Guide Dogs and ABF, The Soldiers’ Charity, while the most passionate charities are Battersea Cats and Dogs Home, League Against Cruel Sports and Macmillan.
But creating a unique brand is not only about what you do, it is also about being able to meet the public’s expectations of their ideal charity. According to our Brand Attributes research the ideal charity brand must be trustworthy, honest and caring / compassionate. These hygiene factors must be ticked off, and will go on to form the foundation upon which your brand personality can be built. Without being seen as these, you will not have the permission from the public to be a charity brand they want to support.
It is important to note that the public do change their opinion on the ideal charity brand. At the height of the negative media coverage of charities in summer 2015, when trust in the sector fell to its lowest level in nearly a decade, attributes such as accountable, cost effective and honest appeared in the top 10. The research was clearly able to demonstrate what charity brands had to communicate in order to maintain trust and support from the public.