Going through the Charity Brand Index this year was no easy feat. With so much movement and so many newcomers, the easiest way to draw insight from the changes over the last 12 months, was to divide the charities into sub-sectors, determined by cause, to spot trends and spot the real shockers. With Interbrand also recently releasing its 2012 top 100 commercial brands, we wanted to look at movements that have taken place and propose rationale insight to support these shifts.
A steady rise where expected
For many of the charity sub-sectors, the movement of brands up the index was expected and correlative to people’s likely proximity to the cause. For example, we know there has been a steady and forecasted rise in the number of people who have cancer in the UK, leading to a steady, overall rise in the rankings of many of the main UK cancer charity brands.
Of course, the two biggest brands (Macmillan and CRUK) have made their brands work hard to differentiate themselves from each other (Macmillan from a supportive stance and CRUK from a fighting, research driven stance) and it’s paid off. As both brands continue to dominate not only the cancer sector, but the charity sector as a whole across the index.
Our love for what’s local
The Charity Brand Index has changed dramatically since 2011. International aid charities have seen a huge decrease in presence on the index, with only half the number of charities dedicated to international aid appearing on the list this year (those that have dropped off include Plan International, Tearfund and Merlin). Of those remaining, most have dropped in rank.
One of the likely reasons for the downfall of this entire sub-sector is likely to be more cultural than down to behaviours of the brands. This year, we have seen a huge increased emphasis on ‘Britishness’, heavily promoted through patriotic events like the Olympics and The Queens Jubilee. According to Savvy Marketing‘s “Proudometer”, attitudes towards “Britishness” have changed significantly. Whereas 59% of the population was “proud” to be British at the start of 2012, that figure has rocketed up to 76%by the end of August. This rise in pride has also meant a heightened awareness across the British public of ‘buying British’ (up nearly 15%). This shift in behavior is likely to not only effect the commercial and retail sectors, but our attitude to charity giving. Something Dan explores here.
Another way we can see the growing emphasis on all things British, is through the increasing relevance of British forces charities. As a sector, forces charities had two of the biggest jumpers in the Charity Brand Index from 2011, Blind veterans UK (formally St Dunstans) and SSAFA, which is probably partially owing to the Help for Heroes brand, which was the highest new entrant in 2011. Help for Heroes targeted a new donor sector for the forces market, moving the brand away from targeting older, British traditionalists making the brand relevant to a younger audience, many of whom had a high level of proximity to the cause.
Technology: Function vs Emotion
In the commercial sector, we can also see how recent cultural events have influenced the perceptions of the brands we buy into as a nation. The most movement for commercial brands, can be seen in technological products and services. Climbers include brands like Apple, Samsung and Amazon. These climbs are perhaps unsurprising considering the rise in smartphones as a dominant communications and shopping tool. Although for Apple, (who have jumped higher than Samsung despite being responsible for less sales), their increase can also be attributed to the story telling around the brand following the death of Steve jobs. This gave customers a stronger emotional angle to engage with the brand, rather than simply through sexy looking, user friendly technology. It is this sort of humanistic, story telling which successful charity brands use to engage their audience groups, which we are now seeing much more of in the corporate world (think McDonalds Olympics campaign, or P&Gs ‘mum’ campaign). For charities to ensure that corporates don’t feast too much on the equity of humanising brands, they must ensure they work harder to make sure the stories being told are as relevant and emotionally engaging as possible to cut through an increasingly emotional commercial landscape.
Converting awareness to giving
Working for The Good Agency, who have a long-standing reputation of bringing brand and fundraising together, it was interesting to see the prevalent percentage gaps between ‘consideration to give’ and ‘awareness’. Research (Mintel Report 2012) tells us that we are far more likely to give to charitites we feel have relevance to us. From a branding point of view, I would argue that there is clearly a huge challenge across the sector to not only make brands well known (only half the challenge), but to make them work harder through story telling, giving them emotional relevance to inspire and retain support and donations.
Fortunately, (speaking as a Brand Planner, in a sector where fundraising is critical), there have been a few good examples of where a brand update has linked to income. Parkinsons UK, following its 2011 rebrand, has been in the press recently for upping its voluntary income by 15% (over £1m per year) and increasing its supporter base by over 27,000 as well as an 6 rank jump upwards in the Charity Brand Index this year. This is a considerable achievement within the disabilities sub-sector of the Charity Brand Index, which has seen a number of unexpected fallers this year, including the National Autistic Society and The Alzheimer’s Society.
Mind is another charity who’s rebrand has not only driven the consideration to give, but meant it has been one of the few mental health charities to both in the index and rise 11 positions to boot.
A brand needs to be emotionally and culturally relevant
Whilst there are some that believe branding belongs in the commercial sector. I think if this year’s Charity Brand Index show us anything it is that awareness of a brand is never enough. A brand needs to be emotionally, culturally and often functionally relevant enough to not only engage your core audience but inspire them into action. Consideration to give (the fundraising arm) and awareness (the branding arm) need to be in perfect balance with each other. Whilst a creatively radical rebrand may well raise awareness in new audience groups, if fundraising hasn’t been considered the exercise will appear fruitless and often damaging to a brand. It is essential any brand (commercial or charity) works hard to engage audiences on a level which transcends functionality or ‘doing the right thing’ and drives deeper engagement and loyalty through emotional engagement.
Cultural trends. Values-led marketing. Behavioural economics. Social & cultural capital. These are Chloe’s passions. Can you believe she used to apply them to booze brands? Now she applies them to yours, if you’re lucky.