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Branding and Capital Campaigns

Bob Brock

When we work with institutions to develop Capital Campaign materials, we start by strategizing how to adapt and shape the institution’s Brand Platform – positioning statement, brand promise, brand drivers – in order to develop brand-consistent campaign messaging.

Based on the brand drivers (top competitive advantages and core values), we develop multiple creative explorations that express different potential benefits and outcomes for donors. Then we test those key messaging constructs for resonance, memorability, believability, and motivational power. Sounds logical, no?

Yet we sometimes get pushback from fundraising staff: “What does the Brand Platform have to do with us?” they’ve asked. “That’s geared to students, and we deal with donors, leaders, and influencers, which is whole different ballgame!”

Well, not really.

Although fundraisers can’t always see it at first, it’s clear to us that the messaging and creative framework for a Capital Campaign needs to be strongly, inextricably linked to your recruitment campaign as well as your overall image communications.

When organizations present different and disconnected identities and messages to their different audiences, the result is a fragmented brand. A split personality. You can’t show one face to Young Jimmy and another to Mr. Deep Pockets, and expect them to somehow figure out who you really are. It confuses them and undercuts your brand position.

Key messaging for both should be built from the same basic attributes expressed in the brand drivers. The creative framework for a Capital Campaign also needs to be synergistic with your overall creative approach and brand personality.

Clearly, Capital Campaign materials have to resonate with donors and influencers and therefore will use a more mature approach. It’s not rocket science: muted hues of the brand color palette, mature imagery, tempering of branded designs and typography, consistent use of the graphic identity. The result is that the creative executions for both should be easily recognizable as the same institution. Two different facets of the same gem, so to speak.

Two additional and important strategies help keep positioning and messaging with different audiences under the same brand umbrella. First, your brand promise has to be come through true and clear as a bell for all audiences, all the time. It must not change just for the benefit of donors and influencers. You are who you are, no matter who you’re talking to.

Secondly, your brand drivers – the top attributes, competitive advantages, and/or core values that set you apart from all the others – have to stay the same, too. Customization for individual targets is done by expressing a different set of benefits and outcomes that each audience derives from the very same competitive advantages.

The messaging that effectively achieves your Capital Campaign goals can and should be totally consistent with your institutional Brand Platform. It’s simply involves pivoting off of the basic messaging elements with donor-resonant benefits, outcomes, and proof points.

Next time, I’ll talk through a good testing process for Capital Campaign executions. Hope you stay tuned and offer your thoughts, as well.

(photo courtesy of Getty Images)

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