Posts Tagged ‘Julia Shepard Stenzel’

Reignite your brand management with a new IDEA

Using your brand as a fundraising and marketing tool is becoming outdated. Your brand must embody your mission, requiring everyone associated with your organization to participate in brand management. How do you manage today’s brand?

With the I-DE-A framework.
Julia Shepard Stenzel and Nathalie Laidler-Kylander inThe Brand IDEA give you a framework to revolutionize your brand, increase your brand’s impact and collectively manage it.

The IDEA framework:

I – Integrity:
Does your brand align with your mission and core values?
Does your brand identity (internal) align with your image (external)?
DE – Democracy
Do you engage all your stakeholders in defining and communicating your brand identity?
A – Affinity

Does your brand allow you to collaborate and extend your sphere of influence to maximize your impact?

Join us!

Join CausePlanet founder and publisher Denise McMahan for a lively discussion with the creators of the IDEA framework, and we’ll explore how to apply this innovative lens when making critical brand decisions that affect your mission.

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Where do most boards fail when managing their brand?

In many of the organizations I’ve worked with in the past, nonprofit leaders viewed their brand management as something that existed in a silo under marketing and quasi-related to their fundraising efforts. In reality, the most high-performing brands are those that are embedded in every aspect of an organization and are rooted in a connection to the mission. Rather than looking for brand management answers in the corporate sector, you can find a useful framework in a new book called The Brand IDEA.

Branding through the nonprofit lens

The Brand IDEA presents a revolutionary framework that acknowledges the interrelated concepts of Integrity, Democracy and Affinity. At first, you might be asking how these lofty notions relate to the business of promoting your brand. After a closer look, you’ll realize how The Brand IDEA authors, Kylander and Stenzel, have created a way to cultivate your brand in a manner that’s compatible with your nonprofit.

Put “IDEA” to work for you

The authors of The Brand IDEA have created a branding framework that is founded in three principles—Integrity, Democracy and Affinity—that produce the acronym I-DE-A. This framework is both a diagnostic tool for determining whether an organization is managing its brand effectively and a prescriptive model to guide organizations in their brand management efforts. The IDEA method helps you identify potential problems with your brand, clarify your organization’s core strategy and determine whether rebranding is necessary.

“We believe The Brand IDEA fills a critical need, providing a useful framework that is focused specifically on managing nonprofit brands. Our framework is based on what a number of cutting-edge nonprofit organizations are currently doing and it has resonated strongly with many people in the sector. During our [book] interviews, we learned how the terms of Integrity, Democracy and Affinity gave people a new language to talk about brands and provided an “on-ramp” to a new way of managing brands,” explain coauthors Kylander and Stenzel.

Where do we fail?

This week, I wanted to share two of our interview questions that touch on Kylander and Stenzel’s answer to why most nonprofits fail as well as how to broach the branding topic with your board. Let’s read on about how the coauthors address these two topics:

CausePlanet: Where do most nonprofits fail when trying to manage a brand effectively?

Kylander and Stenzel: Many nonprofits fail from the outset because they do not grasp the importance of their brands in driving their missions and they fail to see the value of proactively managing their brands. In nonprofits, the brand plays important roles both internally and externally in building cohesion and trust and generating capacity and impact. You have a brand whether you manage it or not. The first step is to view the brand as a strategic asset for implementing your mission. When individuals are stuck in the old paradigm where they see the brand only as a tool for fundraising or are skeptical about the role of the brand in nonprofits, they are not able to be effective in managing the brand to achieve the organization’s desired impact.

What should your board know about brand management?

CausePlanet: What rationale might you give a board that questions the resources (time, treasure or talent) necessary to manage a brand effectively?

Kylander and Stenzel: Brand management is less about the use of financial resources and more about embracing a brand mindset throughout the organization. If you understand the brand as the embodiment of the mission, a strategic asset that enables you to increase your organization’s impact, then the brand and brand management become part of everyone’s job. Brand Democracy suggests that organizations do have to spend time and effort including all stakeholders in the articulation and communication of the brand, but the result is not only much greater organizational cohesion but also a greater number of brand ambassadors. Many individuals spoke to us about how their brand acted like a “north star” for the organization or “the lines in the road.” When you have an effective brand, it facilitates decision making and can help clarify what programs, partnerships and people best fit the organization. It also allows nonprofits to reduce the amount of control needed to manage the brand. Organizations that have invested time in building brand Integrity, Democracy and Affinity have been able to subsequently build capacity and increase their impact.

Kylander and Stenzel have created a useful methodology by which we can effectively manage our brands while simultaneously acknowledging that we run mission-driven organizations. Ask yourself if your brand is embedded in every aspect of your organization and does it reflect the mission?  Consider Kylander and Stenzel’s I-DE-A framework and investigate whether your brand is bolstered Integrity, Democracy and Affinity. Consider reading The Brand IDEA to explore how high-performing nonprofits use their brand as a north star when making decisions.

See also:


Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding

The Nonprofit Marketing Guide

Image credit: organgecountycadesigner, build-biz




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Brand management: sector trends shape new practices

“You have a brand whether you like it or not. Really the only choice you have is how actively you want to shape and manage that brand,” says Ingrid Srinath, executive director of Childline India.

Coauthors Nathalie Laidler-Kylander and Julia Shepard Stenzel share this quotation by Ingrid Srinath in their book because they identify with her passion and conviction for proactively managing your brand.

Last week we featured a revolutionary approach to branding, which Kylander and Stenzel present in their new book The Brand IDEA: Managing Nonprofit Brands with Integrity, Democracy and Affinity. The authors argue that the nonprofit world is changing and so must our notions surrounding brand management.

We can no longer simply borrow corporate prescriptions for overseeing our positional growth. Instead, we must adopt a framework that is both a guidepost for decision making and a test for relevancy. Integrity, Democracy and Affinity (I-DE-A) are mutually supportive terms contained in the authors’ framework and serve as the foundational concepts you can live by and depend on for organizational collaboration and expansion.

We asked Nathalie and Julia about the paradigm shift they account for in brand management as well as the most critical concept within the brand IDEA framework. Join us for the answers.

CausePlanet: We like your approach to brand management and how the framework addresses a paradigm shift. Will you please explain how the IDEA framework accommodates this shift?

Kylander and Stenzel: The Brand IDEA framework builds on the paradigm shift we have been seeing in the nonprofit sector. The framework as a whole is about effectively managing your brand to drive your desired social impact. This is a central idea in the paradigm shift, where we see the role of the brand moving from being focused on fundraising to a much broader and more strategic focus on mission impact.

The new paradigm sees the brand not as a logo, but as the embodiment of the organization’s mission and values. This is captured in the concept of brand Integrity, which includes aligning the brand with the organization’s mission and values.

Communications are no longer one-way projections of a specific image focused on donors but are about participative engagement. This is captured in our concept of brand Democracy, which actively engages internal and external stakeholders in articulating and communicating the brand.

The positioning of the brand is not to gain competitive advantage, but to achieve greater clarity and effective partnerships. This corresponds to the concept of brand Affinity, which includes leveraging your brand to identify and attract partnerships and collaborations to achieve shared goals and increase your impact.

CausePlanet: While you acknowledge the IDEA concepts are mutually supportive, which of them is most critical?

Kylander and Stenzel: Brand Integrity and brand Democracy are closely intertwined and we believe these are the most critical and the best starting points for effectively managing your nonprofit brand. The participatory process of brand Democracy is essential in creating brand Integrity. The process of achieving Integrity, or the alignment of the brand with your mission and values and the alignment of internal identity and external image, helps in turn with implementing brand Democracy. Specifically, having this alignment allows you to empower brand ambassadors by letting go of strict brand controls and providing guidelines and templates for wide use. Brand Affinity is about using your aligned brand to support partnerships and collaborations. Increasingly, nonprofits are recognizing their social objectives cannot be achieved alone. Using your brand to support shared goals can substantially increase the impact of your organization. Once you have a strong brand identity with an aligned image, which you have built through a process of brand Democracy, you can then use this brand to drive key partnerships and collaborations to achieve greater impact.

See also:

Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding: Seven Principles to Power Extraordinary Results

Brandraising: How Nonprofits Raise Visibility and Money through Smart Communications



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How democratic is your brand? Two nonprofits answer.

“Defining and nurturing the brand should fit within the job description of every person working for an organization. And efforts to define and nurture an organization’s brand should involve its supporters and benefactors as they work on the organization’s behalf as advocates and ambassadors,” says Christopher Stone, professor and faculty director at Harvard University.

The Brand IDEA coauthors, Nathalie Laidler-Kylander and Julia Shepard Stenzel, agree. They believe that everyone involved in nonprofit organizations, whatever his or her capacity, has a role to play in managing the brand.

The intent of The Brand IDEA is to inspire nonprofit managers, board members, funders, foundations, consultants, academics and students with a new way of thinking about the critical roles that brands play in furthering mission and social change.

Nonprofit brands are growing in their importance and position in our society. Organizations command tremendous levels of trust with the public and their brand valuations are on par with those of major corporations. Nonprofit leaders who realize the importance of managing this incredible asset will find the IDEA framework an innovative guide and tool for managing brand potential. So what is the IDEA framework? Briefly, I-DE-A is an acronym for the authors’ framework and stands for the following:

Brand Integrity

The authors define brand Integrity (the “I” in IDEA) as the “alignment between the brand identity and image and the mission, values, and strategy of the organization. Brand identity and brand image are two sides of the same coin: brand identity is the internal reflection of the organization’s brand; brand image is the external perception of that same organization’s brand.”

Brand Democracy

The authors define brand Democracy as the “extent to which an organization engages its board, staff, members, participants, volunteers, supporters, and other stakeholders in both defining and communicating the brand identity.” Through brand Democracy, your organization can achieve alignment between brand identity and image, and brand Integrity helps implement Democracy. In other words, Democracy helps define brand Integrity and Integrity helps ensure that the brand remains strong and is not “diluted or hijacked in the process of brand Democracy.”

Brand Affinity

“Brand Affinity refers to the way in which an organization extends its sphere of influence beyond the organization itself, in order to maximize social impact,” according to the authors. They continue by stating that Affinity “represents a mindset and an approach to brand management in which the focus is on shared social impact, rather than on individual internal organizational goals.”

Implementation of the IDEA approach

Since Integrity, Democracy and Affinity are “interrelated and mutually supportive,” the next step involves discussing their implementation as a whole. They recommend three steps but for the purposes of this post, I want to explore the first step: Implement brand Integrity through brand Democracy. Implementing brand Integrity involves three activities that are completed together.

Know who you are

First, conducting research and assessments involves knowing who you are and how you are perceived and understanding key audiences and how you fit in the ecosystem. Gather information internally by brainstorming short descriptors of who you are and use interviews, focus groups, program data, etc., to glean information about external image. These are called brand audits. Then, segment your audiences to understand their needs in order to differentiate yourself among other related nonprofits. This can guide your direction and theory of change and create support as well.

Connect to the mission

Second, driving alignment in two ways is crucial: connecting the brand to clear organizational mission, values and strategy through a participative process (discussing the who, what, why of your organization) and aligning the brand identity and image through an iterative process of exposing and testing internal views. A steering committee with broad representation can work on the brand, integrating external stakeholders (possibly an advisory board) and data, continually gathering outside perspectives in order to monitor the data to address misperceptions, and communicating the brand identity using visuals.

Promote the use of stories

Third, support brand ambassadors through training and promoting the use of stories. To engage internal stakeholders, explain the paradigm shift and regularly train them on the brand’s message so they internalize it. Designating brand champions and brand teams and using tools such as retreats, role-playing, reading clubs, brainstorming sessions on how to talk about the brand, etc., can help engage your staff and volunteers.

The WWF leverages a speech contest

The World Wildlife Fund recently held an elevator speech contest that asked people how they would describe the organization in 30 seconds. It chose several descriptions as winners. Using data collection techniques on perceptions as well as social media can engage external audiences, including beneficiaries, as advocates. Invite your supporters to engage in two-way communication through the networks of their choice by sharing their stories and images. Social media engagement should be simple and focused on a goal. To support these ambassadors, it is necessary to decentralize responsibility for brand communications by guiding, educating, engaging and providing tools rather than policing and controlling, as discussed in the Brand Democracy section above.

Ashoka puts “templatable” tools to use

Bev Schwartz from Ashoka has developed “templatable” tools with similar graphics and language that people can adapt to creatively communicate the brand. Other organizations, such as Amnesty International, have created brand handbooks that “capture the essence of the brand and describe the brand parameters and guidelines.” Finally, storytelling plays a major role in engaging stakeholders and communicating the brand with the heart.

Next week, I’ll talk about which element of IDEA brand management framework is most critical according to Laidler-Kylander and Shepard Stenzel as well as a paradigm shift the authors have observed in brand management. For now, ask yourself if you have begun any of the activities related to building your brand Integrity and Democracy as the authors have described it. Are you leveraging champions in your community to spread the brand? If so, how have they been trained or kept informed?

See also:

Brandraising: How Nonprofits Raise Visibility and Money Through Smart Communications

Content Marketing for Nonprofits: A Communications Map for Engaging Your Community, Becoming a Favorite Cause and Raising More Money

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