Of all brands, an advocacy brand is the easiest to setup and hardest to sustain. The importance of knowing your issue and being able to stand up and evangelize it is a requirement, not the secret to success. Yet, far too many .org advocacy brands rely on just that and often find their organization lacking in funding and market dominance.
The voice of an advocacy brand is mostly a matter of trust built up on many different occasions in everything the organization does. Catch phrases or punch lines are counter productive to establishing and sustaining a lasting advocacy brand because trust is at its heart.
With trust comes permission to lead. Without it, very few things will be accomplished because in order for an advocacy brand to function successfully it has to represent a group who has put their trust into their thoughts, words and deeds. This is not a game. There are bedrock real-life issues such as Disability, Education, Poverty, and Healthcare where decisions matter to people’s lives. For these reasons and more, of all brand work I have conducted during my career, advocacy branding is by far the most challenging and rewarding.
Building an advocacy brand requires several keys to be successful. Here are several that are time-proven and built to last:
Know what you believe and why. If you can account for your beliefs you will be able to easily share and teach them to others. Frankly, there are no shortcuts here. Either you know what you believe or you don’t and in 15 seconds anyone listening to you will know it too. So do your homework and figure out what you are going to spend all of your time speaking, writing, counseling, and advocating. It will make your job a lot easier and your brand far easier to believe in and support.
Know your market. One of the biggest ways to go under is to try and pull off too much too soon in too many markets. As any first year college business student knows, it is always better to dominate a niche market with a 30% market share than have 1% of 30 markets,
Know how to persuade without argument. There is widely held belief that negative publicity is good because it gets you known in the market. For advocacy brands this is absurd. Once an impression is formed, it takes 10 times the effort to correct a negative reputation than it does to build a positive one. For advocacy brands, slow boils are always better than splashy marketing glitz.
Practicing these simple keys will help you build a way to advance your message while helping those you serve. Every relationship formed can bring you to dozens more relationships if they believe your advocacy brand has their best interests at heart. What could be more rewarding and challenging than that?