Two Tips for Building the Brand Promise

A few weeks ago while eating at the local Boston Pizza, I asked a friend if he might like to try a different place next time.  “Why?” he asked “at BPs I always know what I’m going to get”   For him the BP brand offers a consistent promise of a certain type of food with predictable flavors in an environment he finds comfortable.

The NPO brand promise needs to strive for the same goal.  To provide its constituents with an experience that makes them trust the promise the brand makes.

 But how do I develop a brand promise my constituents can trust? 

 Be Specific:  articulate a brand promise that that has a clear purpose.  An NPO brand that ‘provides support for families in need’ is not specific.  As a potential supporter of the NPO, I might ask:

  • Does it support families by providing housing? food? education? furniture? school supplies?
  • Where are the families located?  Edmonton? Alberta? Canada? Cambodia?

If the organization is not clear on its promise, how can I be expected to connect to it?

 Be Realistic:  a brand promise needs to have the possibility of being achieved.  In many cases, NPOs can often risk over-promising and under-delivering because the issues it tries to solve can be highly complex requiring the efforts of multiple stakeholders.    For example, an NPO may promise to eradicate the problem of child poverty in the community.  However, without the support of various other community stakeholders, the promise is unrealistic and would eventually diminish trust in the brand.

The Main Point: Take a moment to think about your organization’s brand promise.  Do you think it is specific and realistic?  Next ask someone unfamiliar with the organization the same questions and see if their responses match yours.

Supporting Article: Chiagouris, Larry. (2005). Nonprofit Brands: Come of Age. Marketing Management, 14(5), 30-33.

Chiagouris 2005


About Darcy McDonald

Exploring the intersection between social innovation and evaluation.

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