A couple weeks ago, Greater Twin Cities United Way hosted a room full of grantmaker communicators. Two United Way marketing leadership staff led a discussion on a topic that will be familiar to many of us who work at organizations that have been around for a while: in a rapidly evolving world, how do we ensure that our brand and messaging stay relevant?
When leaders staff took stock of the current environment in which they operate, several red flags stood out:
- Many donors and non-donors didn’t fully understand what the organization does
- The competitive environment is much stronger than it was years ago
- Millennials weren’t necessarily responding to the current messaging
To assist them in transforming their brand and addressing these challenges, United Way staff turned to a time-honored marketing tool that I find truly fascinating: brand archetypes. These twelve archetypes distill an organization’s brand into a persona that is easy to intuitively understand. For example, there’s The Innocent, whose goal is to be happy and approaches everything with faith and optimism, or The Outlaw, who desires revolution and radical-self-expression.
Those at United Way decided that they needed their brand to move toward being The Hero, seeking to improve the world by acting courageously and inspiring hope. To that goal, they changed their messaging in several ways:
- Simplify! Don’t try to say it all.
- Change from communicating what they do, to why they do it
- Find the right balance between the head and the heart of their stories
This led them to their current, much pithier way of describing United Way’s work:
Greater Twin Cities United Way changes individual lives in the Twin Cities by:
- Stabilizing Families
- Helping Children Succeed and
- Empowering Healthy Lives
Look around United Way’s website to see this new brand in action. And seriously, have a look at those brand archetypes and think about which one best describes how your organization is perceived now, and how you’d like it to be seen. You may find the results very insightful!
-Chris Oien, MCF web communications associate