Non-Profit

Brand Matters – The Power of Strategic Identity

The following content was presented at the AIRI 2017 Annual Meeting. Click here Marshall_AIRI_Presentation-2 to download a PDF of the slide presentation itself.

Brand has many definitions, and most of them line up within marketing and advertising.  In this presentation, I hope to shed some light on the power of strategic identity – being true and clear about who you are as an organization and why you matter. This should have influence over all an institute says and does, from who it hires, to how it fulfills its mission, and of course, how it engages, and inspires support from, its critical audiences.

Here’s one important reason brand matters to research institutes: The top ten federally funded institutes depend upon government funding for 71% of their budget on average. But our government appears to value research less and less.  In fact, according to AAAS, “The FY 2018 funding cycle has been rather mixed for Science and Technology on the whole, with many more agencies looking at reductions than increases.”

What this means is, a good portion of an institute’s budget is necessarily going to need to be replaced by other sources of funding.  Where is that going to come from?  Who is going to understand and value these institutes enough to participate in their future?  Why should they?

The challenge is even bigger than funding.  It is about awareness, relevance, and perceived value to multiple audiences, including new research talent, partners and collaborators, and the public who this research is intended to benefit. While in the past, your accomplishments may have spoken for themselves, now you’ve got to ensure that you are understood, appreciated and supported – in an environment that is more competitive than ever. You need to become a “preferred” place to invest in, to work for, and to rely upon for new knowledge.READ MORE

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The American Red Cross Unveils a New Brand Identity

The American Red Cross recently unveiled its new logo and launched a new brand identity campaign. The changes are subtle, but the message is obvious: The Red Cross is no longer just a disaster relief organization; it’s a group of local volunteers ready to make the world a better place.

Why did the American Red Cross feel compelled to update its image and brand identity? The organization’s leadership wants to reach a new generation of donors and volunteers. The goal is regain a stronger sense of relevance and approachability, and to share its message and mission with a broader audience by inviting them to take a look inside ‘The New Red Cross.’

“We want to show more people how they can be part of a Red Cross that intersects with their lives in many ways,” said Red Cross CMO Peggy Dyer. “The new brand identity is an important part of that process.”

The revamped logo maintains the important aspects of the Red Cross’s heritage while updating it to symbolize a sense of participation, belonging, and engagement. By refreshing its identity, the American Red Cross positions itself as a grassroots organization of greater breadth. It can tell its stories of the past to a new generation eager that is eager to listen and become actively involved.

This new brand identity initiative shows how the use of audience-specific messaging, and even the contextual use of a logo, can uphold the grander, more unifying ideal that the Red Cross isn’t just about disasters; it’s about reaching out to help neighbors, locally and globally, in times of need. Modernizing its image invites a whole new generation to get involved and take ownership of the organization to keep it viable and significant in the future.

Making only subtle changes to the logo was wise. If the Red Cross had drastically altered its identity, it would have risked alienating current stakeholders and scaring off potential donors. Even if it had managed to avoid that catastrophe, it would still have been an immeasurable waste of brand equity.

An organization’s brand is an expression of why it matters. The Red Cross’s new brand identity illustrates just how comprehensive a role the organization plays. It’s more than a provider of essential emergency relief—it’s a community of people mobilizing to enhance the world with its presence

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