Branding as a general practice is a fairly well established and documented process among Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies. Indeed, the concept and practice of branding was arguably perfected by Procter & Gamble. Yet, today branding initiatives are being developed and executed across a broad array of businesses, organizations, and locations. This is a good thing for marketing. Yet, not all things can be branded the same way.
Terrain has researched and developed a new branding paradigm specifically for non-profit organizations and the causes they champion, as well as economic development organizations and the geographies they serve. We spent a little under a year’s time researching the work of more than two dozen regions, cities and states. We discovered that places aren't products. That’s simple enough to understand but so many regions were focusing on their brand logo and tagline as central to what makes their area unique. An outrageous example of this comes from Deloitte. They mapped the number of areas or regions that adopted the word “silicon” or “IT” in order to tout their focus on that industry.
Here’s the map (click the map to download a larger version):
This is just one example of how branding can go wrong. It's easy to ask the wrong questions when you don't understand what’s for sale.
From this study, we developed Identity-based Branding©, which details branding and marketing principles for ideas and causes. Interestingly, we discovered that our homes are more an idea than a product or service. We relate to our homes in much the same way we relate to our religions or the causes to which we donate – these choices and commitments are a function of who we are, not where we are or what we like.
People are not from Texas, they’re Texans. They don’t practice Catholicism, they’re Catholic – and we describe ourselves this way for many of the ideas to which we identify – Republican, Democrat, Community Activist, and so on.
Different than a standard product brand, communities have to establish key attributes that are believed and adopted by their own citizens. The same is true for causes and their constituents. As important as it is for Procter & Gamble employees to believe in their brands, it is doubly so for constituents in establishing a successful brand around an idea or cause.
We’re interested in working with non-profits, municipalities, regions, or states, and other organizations that rely on a strong identity to engage their stakeholders. Contact Evan Scott today to learn more and discuss your goals.