Branding Success Factor 4

Create new ‘markets’ for your mission. 

Over the past few weeks I’ve had conversations with folks from organizations representing the various needs demonstrated by people in the homeless population in Edmonton.  Throughout the conversations, one dominant theme emerged; solving the problems associated with homelessness isn’t ‘sexy’ enough for the ‘mainstream’ community.

Arguably, they have a point because ‘mainstream’ folks may not want to become involved with the many issues causing homelessness (mental illness, addiction, violence etc.) or homeless people themselves.

But why is that? Is it really because they just ‘don’t get it’?

If your target audience ‘doesn’t get it’ then it could be argued that your brand is not competitive or differentiated.  Remember, your brand message is only one of thousands reaching people every day.  You are competing for a piece of an ever shrinking window of attention.  Not only is an NPO’s brand competing with other NPO brands, it is also competing against for-profit brands for the attention of the constituent.   

As an example let’s return to the organization supporting the homeless population in Edmonton.  Each year this organization pours resources into organizing one major event to celebrate the successes of the past year and raise funds for the following year.  To expand the reach of the organization and its brand, that single event will need to compete with the annual events of the approximately 19,000 other NPOs in Alberta. In addition, it will compete with sporting events (Oilers, Flames, Stampeders, Eskimos), music concerts (Lady Gaga, Blue Rodeo, Opera), theatre events (Citadel, Theatre Calgary), festivals (Fringe, FolkFest, Stampede)—the list is endless.

So the choice to attend the event for the homelessness has very little to do with whether or not people ‘get it’.  Instead, on any given weekend, potential attendees are evaluating all options in the ‘events market’.  One key to success is the organization’s ability to create a new category or sub-category of events within the ‘market’.

Now the question becomes; what new ‘market category’ of events can you create, for your mission to end homelessness, that has the potential to resonate with the ‘mainstream’ so they ‘get it’? 


About Darcy McDonald

Exploring the intersection between social innovation and evaluation.

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