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brandingpositioningResponsible Marketing

Nonprofits must differentiate or die

By April 22, 2013August 19th, 2020No Comments

Acumen Fund

Differentiate or die. It’s not a fear tactic deployed by marketing agencies to scare the bejesus out of nonprofits. It is, in fact, a hard truth about the nature of the nonprofit sector. Dissimilar, indistinctive and alike will get you killed in any fiercely competitive, over-saturated market – let alone the nonprofit sector. In today’s market, nonprofits (and businesses alike) must differentiate or die.

FastCompany’s article “Why fast, cheap, and fast design is killing your nonprofit’s brand” tackled the subject head on, and we couldn’t agree more: “Only 20% of causes report having a formal, written marketing strategy,” while “100% have logos, websites, and donor communication vehicles.” Not ideal, when you consider–

  • A logo does not equal a brand
  • A website does not equal a digital presence
  • A Facebook page does not equal an engaged community
  • A press release does not equal press coverage

The article goes on to state that “strategy leads to things like a distinctive and authentic point of view, the creation of compelling content, and the development of engaged communities” (see image above for example).

And might we add, that positioning is where strategy begins.

Positioning is the process by which marketers try to create an image or an identity in the minds of their target audience. Without properly positioning against competitors (i.e. competitive framing) – despite the best of intentions – strategy is doomed to fail; and nonprofits are likely to project just another “me too” brand image.

Strategy begins with positioning. If you don’t have a compelling positioning statement, you won’t have a compelling differentiation strategy.

For further reading, here’s a blog we wrote on positioning: “Add positioning to your menu – and hold the carbs.”

Image: Acumen

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