Branding for Social Marketers – Part 2

Yesterday I wrote about what branding is and how it is used in social marketing. Today, I’ll share with you the article that got me started thinking about branding and the unique aspects of social marketing that need to be considered for your brand.

William Arruda wrote an excellent article on called The 10 Cs of Branding. These are the attributes that contribute to a successful brand (though #7 seems to have gone missing when the article was posted – I will update if I get it) (see inserted #7 below).

The brand must be:

  1. Competent – the product or service must fulfill its promise
  2. Credible – the brand needs to be believable in delivering on the product or service
  3. Clear – the brand sets itself apart from its competitors in an easy to understand way
  4. Compelling – the brand is appropriate for and interesting to its target audience
  5. Consistent – everything the brand does supports the brand image and attributes
  6. Constant – the brand remains constantly visible to the target audience
  7. Confident – the brand stands behind its decisions and appears strong
  8. Connected – the brand is part of appropriate communities, affiliations and partnerships
  9. Committed – the brand is built over time and not just a fad or one-time event
  10. Current – the brand remains relevant to the target audience as it changes

I highly encourage you to read the original article, which goes into details about the meaning of each C.

Just as I added more Ps to the marketing mix for social marketing, I think we need to add at least five more Cs to the attributes for a successful social marketing brand when addressing health or social issues. Here is what I think is missing:

11. Change-oriented – The brand must support your program’s overall behavior change goal. A cool brand that has nothing to do with the health or social change you are promoting is useless. The Back to Sleep campaign has been so successful in preventing SIDS because the name and logo tell you exactly what to do.

12. Competitive – There are a lot of brands out there – belonging to both for-profit businesses and nonprofit organizations. Your brand needs to be perceived as being of sufficient quality to compete against the others in your category. Guidestar lists about 850,000 nonprofits, many of which are competing for your audience’s attention. And depending upon the issue you are addressing, you may also be competing against big-name brands like McDonalds, Budweiser or Marlboro. Make sure your brand is at least as appealing as the competition’s.

13. Compatible – Your brand image must be compatible with the cause it is promoting. The truth campaign‘s gritty cynicism would probably not be appropriate for a campaign on dental health or arthritis. Consider the characteristics of the issue, the target audience(s) and the context in which the brand will be operating.

14. Caring – Give your target audience reasons to care about your brand. How does using it benefit them or others? Building an emotional connection to the brand comes from the words, images, fonts, channels, and music you use in the campaign. It comes from the interactions your audience has with your organization and its staff members, from its perceptions of your chosen spokesperson to the things that their friends and family have to say about your brand. Do they feel like your brand cares about them?

15. Culturally Appropriate – Some brands cut across cultures with no problem — Coke is an excellent example of this. But when you’re dealing with an issue like domestic violence or family planning that has a strong cultural component to it, creating the brand can be tricky. How you frame the issue, how you depict the product users/nonusers, and even the shape and color of the logo can either enhance the brand or make it less desirable, depending upon the cultural lens of the viewer. Testing the key pieces of the campaign with the intended audience can help to take this into account.

Would you add anything more to the Cs of branding for social marketing? Have I or William Arruda missed any key pieces by limiting ourselves to words that start with the letter C? Let me know what you think.

flickr photo credit: adri

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