A strategic Cause Branding program can help an organization enhance its brand equity, increase relevancy to key stakeholders and develop a sustainable competitive advantage. The following are tips for developing authentic and substantive programs:

  • Select a focus area that aligns with your mission, goals and organization.
  • Evaluate your institutional “will” and resources. If you, your employees and other allies don’t believe or invest in your organization’s cause, neither will your audience.
  • Analyze your competitors’ cause positioning. There are few remaining wide, open spaces, but this may help you locate a legitimate societal need or an untapped element within a more crowded space that you can own.
  • Choose your partners carefully. Look for alignment in values, mission and will. Carefully outline roles and responsibilities. Set your sights on a multi-year sustainable relationship, with annual measurement of accomplishments for both partners.
  • Don’t underestimate the name of your program—it’s key to the identity of your campaign. Develop a few words that say exactly what you do and create a visual identity that is simple, yet memorable. The Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women and Target Take Charge of Education are good examples.
  • To create a sustainable and effective program, start by developing a cross-functional strategy team. Include representatives from the office of the CEO, public affairs, human resources, marketing, public and community relations, research/measurement, volunteer and program management, among others. If you’re in silos, you will spend too much valuable time building bridges to other departments to get the real work done.
  • Leverage both your assets and those of your partner(s) to bring the program to life. Assets may include volunteers, cash and in-kind donations, special events, in store presence, partner resources and marketing/advertising support. And remember, emotion is one of your greatest assets. It can help you to connect with your audience and differentiate your organization in a crowded marketplace.
  • Communicate through every possible channel. Craft compelling words and visuals because stirring images can penetrate the heart. Then, take your messages beyond traditional media outlets and become multi-dimensional! Think special events, Web sites, workshops, PSAs, expert spokespersons and even celebrity endorsements.
  • Go local. National programs reach the “grass tops,” but true transformation begins at the grassroots. Engage citizens/volunteers through hands-on activities at local events, cause promotions and fundraisers.
  • Innovate. True cause leaders constantly evolve their programs to add energy, new engagement opportunities and content to remain relevant and to build sustainability.


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