Monthly Archives: March 2012

Brand: from skeptics to believers

A recent article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review provides compelling rationale for one of the most difficult aspects of introducing and maintaining brand in a not-for-profit: winning over the skeptics.

“But we’re not selling sugar water,” grumbled the child rights specialist at one of my first brand sessions with a large international NGO. The resistance to the concept of brand was so strong that we considered rebranding our brand effort.

In “The Role of Brand in the Nonprofit Sector” (SSIR, Spring 2012), Nathalie Kylander and Christopher Stone listened carefully to nonprofit leaders to understand the roots of their skepticism and ambivalence to brand.

In doing so, they were able to identify four significant areas of resistance. They then turned them into positives and came up with four significant areas of pride that drive brand acceptance in an organization with altruistic goals:

  • Fear of over commercialization turns into pride in the mission of the organization
  • Fear of top-down short cuts to organizational change turns to pride in participatory planning
  • Fear of brand as an end in itself turns into pride in the values that define organizational culture
  • Fear of over-shadowing smaller brands turns into pride in supportive partnerships

Turning a powerful for-profit brand construct into one that can be fully embraced by charity leaders and staff opens the door to the clarity and cohesion that brand has to offer. The authors point out, “When an organization’s employees and volunteers all embrace a common brand identity, it creates organizational cohesion, concentrates focus, and reinforces shared values.”

In turn, that cohesion and focus increases an organization’s ability to have an impact and that reinforces the brand image and identity.

Have a look at this article in full—it’s chock full of carefully researched and articulated reasons for not-for-profits to wrap their heads around brand.

Kabisa goes a bit flashy

While there has been much ado about the demise of flash, reports of its death are premature. It’s an extremely useful tool in getting your message across in very creative and engaging ways.

Case in point here is our hot-off-the-presses flash video for a World Vision International project called Horizon. We worked initially on a name change for this program management information system (formerly known as PMIS),  followed by a full brand and identity system and a promotional website.

This flash video highlights World Vision’s continued journey of accountability and learning using this global system for designing, managing and monitoring programs. It’s meant to introduce the system’s current and up-coming features to over 44,000 staff around the world.

Kabisa partnered with the very talented and skilled Matt Ternoway for the design and animation, and with the equally talented Eric Kupp for audio production.



The responsibilities of a good name

A good name is an outward articulation of your internal strategic work. It is a first point of contact with the people you want to talk to the most. It is tireless, easy to say and remember. It can be aspirational and is always inspirational. It tells your story with colour and sound and rhythm. It is your 24/7 workhorse, used on every piece of communication you put forward and every person who goes out from your organization.

In short, it has a lot of responsibilities. It has to be:

Distinct  a good name offers a clear distinction from its competition. Being distinctive is only one element that goes into making a name memorable, but it is a required element, since if a name is not distinct from a sea of similar names it will not be memorable. It’s important, when judging distinctiveness, to always consider the name in the context of who will be using it.

Deep  a good name delivers an idea, concept or benefit. It has layers of meaning and associations that draw people in. It brings the idea of what you’re doing to life. It is rich in implications. Names with great depth never reveal all they have to offer all at once, but keep surprising you with new ideas.

Energetic  a good name is full of life and has buzz potential. It makes you lean forward and pay attention.

Human  a good name is appealing and feels comfortable right away. It exudes a sense of warmth, as opposed to names that are cold, clinical and unemotional. Try to imagine the name as a nickname you might give your child or pet.

Simple a good name is short, crisp and concise. Ideally, five to seven letters. We have limited attention spans. Less is more. It makes it easy for the essential message of the name to settle comfortably into our busy brains. It’s easy to pronounce, spell and recall.

Audibly and visually appealing a good name pleases the ear and the eye in any language. And auditory memory is more powerful than visual memory. The sound of a name is crucial. It’s two-fold – it needs to sound good and to be easily spoken by those who will use it most.

Without adverse connotations in key languages a good name has a purity about it that can’t be corrupted. This is ideal, but it’s critical to make sure that the name isn’t obviously culturally insensitive or insulting in our local or global neighbourhoods.