I know this sophisticated woman with coiffed hair and stylish clothing. She can be very formal and professional, but she can also be the life of the party. She’s passionate about ensuring that the children in Long Beach come first—that their needs are met and they are given opportunities that they deserve. She has many friends who she teaches to be effective leaders by showing them how to lead volunteers and organize successful programs and events, she feels strongly about her way of doing things, but is open to new techniques. She’s charming and witty and very clever. She’s kind and considerate and a perfect hostess with perfect manners. As such, she is always looking for new friends to share her knowledge with and help make Long Beach an even better community.
If you think I just described a favorite aunt, guess again. I just described the Junior League of Long Beach (JLLB) as if the organization were a person. I have been a JLLB member for ten years and have great respect for this 80 year old nonprofit in Long Beach. How I described her tells you a lot about her personality and sets your expectations for being around her.
To describe your organization as if it were a person, will help you define your brand. From what you read above, does the JLLB send out thank you notes? You bet! Does she have an open door policy for membership? Yes, but you have to go through a new member training curriculum, of course. She does things properly and thoroughly!
Your brand is more than your logo and the colors you use. It is the visceral response you evoke from everything you do. When you don’t behave within your brand, you are essentially breaking character. If you have established a strong brand, acting inconsistent with your brand is conspicuous. If you don’t have a strong brand, and people don’t know what to expect from you, then nothing you do is conspicuous or meaningful. You won’t be remembered as anything special.
You establish a brand by offering consistency not just in using your logo consistently, but in the services you offer, the core values you adopt, and the way you behave. If the JLLB offered a pin-up calendar as a fundraiser, that would be conspicuously incongruent with whom I described above.
Try it! Personify your product, service or organization. Is it easy to describe? Now measure your marketing materials, programs, fundraisers, and more, against this description. You will see right away when you are going against the true personality—the brand—of your company or nonprofit.