Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Once upon a Tweet...

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A tweetful of random inspiration...


Once upon a Tweet
We tweeted a tweet
Twittersphere retweeted the tweet

What the tweet is going on?

We tweet, you retweet
You tweet, we retweet
They tweet, we all retweet

Tweet tweet if you tweet
Tweet tweet if you retweet

Tweetful of this
Tweetful of that

Do we tweet to tweet
Or do we tweet to be?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Social Media and Twitter: 10 principles for getting started

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Is Twitter a fad? It's actually irrelevant. Social media, in what ever form it may manifest, is here to stay. The fact is that social media is changing the way we search, read and share ideas and information. Simultaneously it's dramatically changing the way nonprofit or corporate brand managers could — and should be engaging their audiences.

The real issue is to try to understand the fast evolving dynamics of the new media. Join the conversation, borrowing Twitter's slogan, may be the best way of doing just that. So whether you are an NGO or a corporation, just roll up your sleeves and get active in social networks.

However, before you start twittering it's good to be aware of certain basic principles. Yes, it's fast to set things up and get going, but don't forget to do some thinking too. When properly executed, a social media strategy can bring you closer to your audience — and vice versa. Executed with the traditional advertising mindset it can, on the other hand, even lead to a disastrous PR scandal as we later shall find out.




Principle 1: It's a conversation behave like someone with a personality

Ever been on a date where the other party has spent the whole time just talking about themselves? If you have, the chances are that there was never another date.

If you only Twitter about yourself, your products or your services without listening and responding to what goes on in the twittersphere, you come across as just another robotic advertiser and nobody will want to follow you. Not only that, but it leaves a bad impression.

So remember that twittering is about having a conversation, an actual dialogue. Not a "let's-put-our-brand-out-there-and-hope-someone-will-see-it" style traditional one-way advertising.

Instead of being a robotic advertiser, try to think of your NGO or corporation as a person who has a personality. If your brand values are e.g. friendship, creativity and integrity, your tweets should make you sound friendly, creative and honest. Twittering is a great way of expressing your brand personality (definition of brand personality).

For a great example, we recommend you follow Greenpeace twitter.



Principle 2: Know your audience and your goals

As in any form of communication, you should first understand who your target audience is and what they are interested in. So go on Twitter and find out what your audience is twittering about. While out there, it might be a good idea to have a look at your competitors too. How are they going on about it?

Once you know your audience, the next thing to do is to figure out what you could be sharing with them. Is your goal, for example, to provide customer service via Twitter? In that case, take a look at the Twitter profile of ComCast customer service for an example.

If you are a big corporation or an NGO with many target audiences, you might even consider creating a few different Twitter profiles tailor-made for each audience. For example Dell has set up multiple Twitter profiles and have made it clear that each has its own function and audience.

If you want to, for example, receive promotional offers from Dell, then there's a specific Dell Twitter profile for just that. In this case, it's alright for Dell to twitter about promotional offers since that is what the profile's followers would have signed up for.

Ford Motor Company has also set up many different profiles. There's @Ford, @FordRacing, @FordDriveGreen, @FordFiesta and, for example, @FordMustang.

If you do decide to go down this route, remember to be upfront about it on your profile description and also profile name.



Principle 3: Design a look and feel in-line with your brand 

As in any medium, you should make sure that you are recognizably, distinctively and consistently showing that your Twitter profile belongs to your brand. Although Twitter's interface may seem rigid at first, there is plenty of room for creativity.

Take a look at what a customized Twitter profile looks like. Here are some examples:


Be clever about designing your 73x73 pixel Twitter icon and be aware that it will be also automatically be reduced to a tiny 24x24 pixel version that shows up on the right column. If it's not recognizable in small, you'll have to work on it.


One way forward might be to just use a part of your logo, like Amnesty International does on its Twitter profile. Alternatively, use an altogether different icon, as Greenpeace, and show the full logo on your background image.

While you should ensure the visual language of your Twitter profile reflects your brand's values, you should also pay attention to your profile information on the top right corner. As you write it, have a good think about questions raised in the second principle we earlier introduced. Some, like 360i and Barnardo's, also add information to the background image on the left.



Principle 4: Don't use Twitter to twitter

To really understand what Twitter is about and what it can do for you, you really have to use an external application. It may sound ironic, but don't use Twitter to twitter. Instead use a website such as Hootsuite or software like TweetDeck. Check out the Twitter Fan Wiki for a long list of Twitter applications or the 99 essential Twitter tools by Smashing Magazine.

There are many different options out there, but TweetDeck is one we've found useful. It helps you to monitor what's been said about you, by whom and what are the latest trends. You can also have a dynamic search up on your TweetDeck showing the real time development of discussion topics you may be interested in. What a great way to be gathering marketing intelligence! And that's all information you would have missed out if you would just be staring at your own static Twitter profile.

Importantly, the software also enables you to shorten any hyperlink you would like to post. This is crucial especially as you should be adding additional narrative explaining any given link you are posting for your followers. And with only 140 characters to use, every character counts.



Principle 5: Establish trust by adding value

Every time you tweet, make sure you actually add value to the conversation and to your followers by saying something meaningful. If you do say something totally irrelevant, you risk alienating audience who may stop following you on the click of a mouse. In the worst case scenario you might even end up causing an outbreak in the twittersphere as happened for Habitat UK.

Habitat had a twittering-policy of posting tweets which included one of the 10 most popular hashtags (e.g. hashtag "#obama" is a conversation thread that shows all Obama related tweets) which most of the time were completely irrelevant to Habitat's tweets. This was their way of ensuring Habitat's tweets would receive maximum exposure. Ultimately, however, it caused a big uproar in the twittersphere. Read more about the Habitat UK case study.

So be mindful especially when using hashtags. And remember too that a given hashtag might accidentally attract an audience outside the scope of the one you are trying to reach.



Principle 6: Think before you tweet

You know the deal with email, think twice, right? Well it's about thinking three times before you tweet. Once it's out there, it's not just sitting in someone's mailbox; it's actually out there and being ReTweeted sometimes in the pace of a lightning.



Principle 7: Get to grips with the Twitter-jargon

@ = Used to link up a tweet to someone else's Twitter profile in the form of @profilename

RT = ReTweet of someone else's tweet. It's best practise to use this. Twitterer's will appreciate it too if you give recognition to their content. You might even get some new followers thanks to your ReTweet. Do note that you'll also need to add @profilename too after it. Here's a ReTweet of one of my tweets made by someone in the 'twittersphere':

RT @finntastico: Interesting article on CR: "A responsibility to report" http://bit.ly/QC1uL

# = hashtags are used to link your tweet to a certain discussion thread. Consult the Twitter Fan Wiki for further instructions on using hashtags. Below example is a tweet I made regarding the upcoming climate change conference in Copenhagen:

Help @UNEPandyou campaign for upcoming #climatechange conference in Copenhagen & sign the petition http://www.sealthedeal2009.org



Principle 8: Think who you should be following

Partners? Competitors? Clients? Celebs? Family? Anyone?

While it's convenient to follow someone you just happen to find interesting, be conscious about it as it also tells those who may look at your profile what type of a "brand personality" you have. So remember to always think about it from outside-in perspective too.



Principle 9: Be prepared to spend the time

If you don't have the time to engage in a dialogue with your audience, it might not be worth doing it in the first place as that's what it's all about.  Mind you, they are probably twittering about you regardless of whether you are there or not — and your competitors are most likely already engaged in a conversation with your own target audience.



Principle 10: Establish social media guidelines

If you are committed to taking the leap to the social media networks, ensure that also your staff or your volunteers are on the same page with your social media strategy. It's a good idea to establish some basic guidelines.

For example, do you encourage your staff to start up their own Twitter profiles too? How should they go about setting them up? How do you "sub-brand" their profiles names, icons, profile information and other imagery? What can they be talking about and how? Can they have public or private only profiles?



Further reading and ideas

If you still need more food for thought as you consider kick starting your social media campaign, we recommend having a read through the Social Marketing Playbook by 360i while Mashable provides an extensive Twitter Guide. Some of the principles introduced were based on an interview of Michael Brito published by Mashable.

If you are completely new to social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, we recommend you to first sign up as private person and get active amongst your friends. Through that learning process you will build up your confidence to be able to go out there and officially represent your nonprofit or profit-driven business.


Follow me Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/finntastico.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

European Year of Volunteering 2011: vote for your favourite logo and slogan

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The European Volunteer Centre is running a competition on behalf of the European Commission to design the logo and the slogan for the European Year of Volunteering 2011.

There are tons of visual identities and slogans to choose from, so cast your vote!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Aalto University brand about to be launched

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Aalto University has recently chosen its new brand identity to be launched later in September 2009. The visual identity was elected out of those submitted by the students of the University in a competition held earlier in the summer.

Tuula Teeri, the president of the Aalto University, argues: "The winning entry expresses the ideas behind the formation of the multidisciplinary Aalto University. Science and art are about asking, answering and generating questions, and creativity in finding new connections."

The University, named after the internationally renowned Finnish architect-turned-businessman Alvar Aalto, is a merger between the Helsinki School of Economics, the University of Art and Design Helsinki and the Helsinki University of Technology.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Rebranding volunteering: European Year of Volunteering 2011

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The many benefits of volunteering are generally speaking undervalued. For example, did you know that volunteering would significantly increase your employability? Well, it does. According to research, companies prefer hiring those with volunteering experience over those without it.

To reposition volunteering as the positive force it should be seen in the society, the European Commission has chosen the year 2011 to be the "European Year of Volunteering". You may read more regarding the Commission's motivations for the Year.

Let's slogo!
As always, visual identity plays a huge role in transforming ideas. The European Volunteer Centre is running a competition on behalf of the European Commission to design the logo and the slogan for the Year.

So if you are feeling creative, you can submit up to three logo and/or slogan options via the competition website where you can find a detailed brief for the task. You'll need to hurry up though as deadline for submissions is Friday the 18th of September!

Public voting
In-line with the Year's theme, there's an online volunteer jury that shortlists the options for public voting. The public voting will take place between 1st and 16th of October 2009.

The best concepts will go to the European Commission for final selection who will publish the winner(s) on the 16th of December.

So even if you didn't come up with a killer idea for a slogan / logo or simply missed the deadline, it should be worth keeping an eye on the competition - and eventually the events of the year 2011.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Viral hit case study: Finnish disco dancing brought to you by Diesel

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As brand managers are in the constant hunt for the next viral hit, we thought we'd draw your attention to one particularly catchy clip launched to the blogosphere by Diesel.


Before

The clip is a remix of an educational TV show in the 70s where a famous Finnish TV-personality Åke Blomqvist is trying to teach the usually so stiff Finns how to 'shake that booty' to the latest disco tunes.

First take a look at the original clip as seen on TV:



After
Having spotted how the clip was becoming a viral hit on YouTube, some Diesel brand manager out there must have seen the opportunity for reaching out to the brand's urban audience.

All it took was a new remix of the song with some funky editing and Voila! there's a new viral hit branded by Diesel and seen by up to 700,000 and counting.

Check out the funky outcome:



Lesson to be learned
Forget about spending zillions of dollars on expensive ads (especially in these economic times) and instead come up with a funky idea that makes you a viral hit.

Get the thing then started by posting on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and the like and then just pop a can of soda and sit back to watch the number of views climb up.

If you get it right, your brand might just become a viral hit.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Have a point to make? Beware PowerPoint

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Have you sat through countless of presentations watching a never-ending stream of PowerPoint slides loaded with information and finding yourself thinking whether it's about time you bought new shoes? You are not alone.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of PowerPoint. But however great the easy-to-use software is, it continues to be misused in most presentations. With 30,000,000 PowerPoint presentations made every day only in the business world, it might be a time to have a good critical look at the use of the software in presentations.

While PowerPoint can be a great tool aiding the presentation, the problem with it is that presenters generally tend to talk to the slides and not to the audience. On top of that, the slides more than often contain way too much information while providing very little visual stimulus for the yawning audience. And just because there are bullet points it doesn't mean people will pay attention.

I recommend reading Max Atkinson's article the Problem of PowerPoint where he sheds light on the many pitfalls of using the prevalent software in presentations.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Google's new "favicon" and branding in the digital world

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Earlier this year Google launched a new favourites icon, or "favicon" (industry jargon mocked up from the words "favourites" and "icon"), as it is often referred to. The favicon is that tiny 16 x 16 pixel icon you see next to the URL on your browser. Branded as the "world's smallest signpost", the favicon plays a powerful role in modern digital communications.





Referring to Google's favicon, Bill Gardner argues in the Creative Review's Logo Trend Report 2009 that "the favicon may turn out to be a measuring stick against which success of any new logo might be measured – as in, can this logo be made to fit in a 16 × 16-pixel square?".

But what makes Google's latest favicon all the more interesting is that replaced its predecessor that was only published six months earlier.

So what's up with the constant changing? Indecisiveness?

"Logos are set to become fluid, ever-changing, customisable, even personalised entities and Google is the first global brand that understands this," explains Mr Plimsoll in Craig Smith's article in the BBC Magazine.

Consistency, consistency and consistency has been the main mantra in most branding rulebooks. But modern brands living in the digital domain, such as Google, are leading the way to a new more dynamic branding reality.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs

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The Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs is a EU-funded pilot programme providing new entrepreneurs the opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills by spending time working with an experienced enterpreneur in another EU country. The programme is designed to increase innovative collaboration between companies and give access to new markets.

After a rigorous application process, Finntastico founder Antti Kangaslahti was recently accepted for the programme. A great opportunity for a start-up company, Antti Kangaslahti is excited of the prospects of taking part in the programme.

Together with the support of the programme's administrative offices, Finntastico is currently in the search for the perfect host company for the six-month exchange.

If you are interested in becoming a host company, please get in touch by emailing us at info@finntastico.com.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

History and future meet at Madrid's CaixaForum

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CaixaForum is the latest addition to the cultural scene of Madrid, and more precisely to the famous Museum triangle consisting of the Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofia.

Inaugurated in 2008 and sponsored by the Spanish bank La Caixa, the building was designed by the famous Swiss architect studio Herzog & de Meuron, a past winner of the prestigious Pritzker Prize.

A missing story and a vertical garden
The building is a mind-boggling combination of old and new. Reconstructed from an old power plant Central Eléctrica del Mediodía, its first story has been — literally — chopped off making the building appear to be floating in air.

But what makes you stop at Madrid's CaixaForum is not the building at first; it is the spectacular 24 meters high vertical garden designed by Patric Blanc next to it.

Walking on Paseo del Prado, most tourists stop by for a photo-op in front of the wall, decorated by some 15,000 plants and 250 different species, before noticing the floating CaixaForum.


Suprising contradictions
While the exterior design of the CaixaForum is simply stunning, the interior doesn't leave you cold either. An interesting combination of traditional wood with futuristic metal structures, spacious rooms and funky stairways, the building is full of surprises and contradictions.

Coming through the entrance to the reception gives a back-to-the-future type of a sensation; visit the basement's auditoriums and you feel being inside a traditional Finnish building thanks to the wooden floors and walls.

While the building itself is worth the visit, there are interesting art exhibitions, seminars, musical performances and educational activities taking place in the building's premises.

A recent exhibition featured the French painter Maurice de Vlaminck's interesting works (check out some of his paintings).

Ever since Bilbao's spectacular Guggenheim, the motive has become "build, and they will come". Madrid's CaixaForum certainly leaves a lasting impression and is bound to attract much public interest in the coming years.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Social Entrepreneurs: Pioneering Social Change

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Social enterprises are new types of businesses "set up to tackle a social or environmental need" (socialenterprise.org.uk). They use a blended business model: they measure success, not just by the financial bottom-line, but also by the social/environmental change they are able to create.

According to socialenterprise.org.uk, in 2005 there were 55,000 of such social enterprises only in the UK with a combined turnover of £27 billion. Watch the video below and learn how these new types of businesses are shaping the world we live in.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

recessionsupport.org.uk

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ACEVO, the London-based Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisation, recently launched a new web site: recessionsupport.org.uk.

From information about mergers to guides on fundraising and a selection of training courses, the web site, meant for the third sector organizations, is very informative and might give your nonprofit a few extra ideas on how to navigate in these turbulent times.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

TED: Ideas worth spreading

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From architects to buddhist monks, from superfamous to the average Joe, at TED.com you can watch talks by inspirational people from all walks of life. Here's a couple examples of what you can stumble upon.



William Kamkwamba, inventor

Then 14-year-old William from Malawi read a book about building a windmill and built one from scrap materials to generate electricity to his house! Now he's planning to build a bigger and a better one to power the whole village.


Milton Glaser, graphic designer


The designer of many iconic images, including 'I [heart] NY', Milton Glaser runs the audience through his creative process. It's worth visiting his poster collection too.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Iberoamerican Design Exhibition

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If you're into design and are around Madrid, it's worth visiting the Design Exhibition at Madrid's Matadero. The exhibit features design flair from Spain and Latin America: advertising campaigns, fashion, posters, brand identities and more. Here's a short review.



Brand identity:
Fundación Lil
ian Thuram

Designer
Mario Eskenazi, Mexico

Agency
Diego Feijóo, Spain




"Solo hay una raza, la humana, hasta que todos lo aprendamos"

The vision and values of the former French World Cup winner's Lilian Thuram Foundation are so strongly integrated to the visual identity, that they need little further introductions.

It's worth paying a visit to the foundation's web site — check out how the various components of the visual identity (names from different countries on top of silhouette faces of all shapes) come together in the form of an introductory animation. Note also how the visual identity plays out on different segments of the site too.


Poster design:
bienvenidos/malvenidos

Immigration is an issue that raises strong feelings in Spain. Most of the immigrants come in search of a better life across the Gibraltar from northern Africa. Depending on your point of view they're either "welcome" or "unwelcome".

Designer
Elman Padilla, Honduras






Poster design:
Carson in Panama

For the typography buffs out there, here's a little treat for you from a well-known surfer-turned-designer.

Designer
David Carson, USA








Poster design:
Rloveution

"Sin amor, no hay revolución"
is a famous quote from Che Guevara decorating this poster.

Designer
David Criado, Bolivia

Saturday, April 18, 2009

2009: The European Year of Creativity & Innovation

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"The European Year of Creativity and Innovation aims to raise awareness of the importance of creativity and innovation for personal, social and economic development; to disseminate good practices; to stimulate education and research, and to promote policy debate on related issues. During the year there are many seminars held related to the topic at the European Parliament."

Finntastico got the chance to take part in one such seminar at the EU Parliament in Brussels. The seminar, Imagine. Create. Innovate. was organized by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) Hannu Takkula, Finland and Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, Germany.

Among the the speakers were Tuula Teeri, president of the new Aalto University, Charles Hampden-Turner, a renowned scholar and consultant on culture, creativity and innovation as well as the author of the best-selling book Riding the Waves of Culture, Vesa Kangaslahti, Assistant Professor at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University and Liisa Välikangas, Professor of Innovation Management at Helsinki School of Economics.


Q: How many blondes does it take
to change a light bulb?


The afternoon seminar was extremely stimulating as the title of the seminar already promised. Many ideas and thoughts were floated about ranging from how humour can be used to stimulate creativity to the way the current economic crisis should be seen as an opportunity to innovate.

According to Liisa Välikangas, who focused on discussing the relationship between humour and creativity, the best metric of innovation was whether "you laugh together". She went on to point out how British Airways was a company that took its humour particularly seriously, referring to the appointment of Paul Birch as a "Corporate Jester".

The logic for the argument, she went on to proclaim, was that the best way to change the mindset and encourage some lateral thinking was to simply "crack a joke". Laughter takes us by surprise and that's when innovative breakthroughs can be achieved.


The Finns might be onto something.
But no, it's not Nokia this time...


Cross-functional teams have long featured in the academic discourse on creativity. But as Hampden-Turner pointed out, universities have traditionally done the very opposite: different fields of knowledge have been divided into different departments.

Tuula Teeri gave an example of a venture that breaks the mould—the new Finnish Aalto University. The University, named after the internationally renowned architect-turned-businessman Alvar Aalto, is a merger between the Helsinki School of Economics, the University of Art and Design Helsinki and the Helsinki University of Technology.

Currently branded as the University ”where the science and art meet technology and business”, Aalto University is one of its kind and definately worth checking out in case you're in the search for a Uni where to do that Masters you've long been thinking about.


“It is not the strongest of species
that survives, nor the most intelligent,
but the most responsive to change”

Charles Darwin

While debating the many ways we can become more creative, many of the presenters also noted how factors out of everyone's control often stimulate innovation: people get creative when they have no alternative.

By no surprise, the prevalent economic crisis often featured in the seminar. Hampden-Turner and Kangaslahti mentioned the example of the US car industry and how it is under pressure to innovate for the first time in many decades.

Those were the highlights of what was a very fruitful seminar. If only the MEP's had time to reflect and sit down for more than 15 minutes at a time...

A slide from Hampden-Turner's and Kangaslahti's presentation

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Why do nonprofits need branding?

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You might not think about it, but your not-for-profit organization is indeed a brand. If you would like to be succesful, here's why we feel it's about time you started thinking about your organization as one.


What is a brand?

Most not-for-profits are reluctant to think about themselves as 'brands'. And if they do, the tendency is to see it being the name, slogan, logo, font or colour. But those are just some of the visual cues of it that meet the eye.

So lets first take a step back and try to get to grips with the concept of a brand to fully appreciate why it's so important.

What does it then consist of?

You could think about it this way. The name, logo, font, colours and images are like the tip of the iceberg and should reflect what lies underneath: what unites your members or your volunteers, what makes you special, what makes you valued, and what do people actually experience when they use your brand.

Internally branding is a way of uniting your board, staff, volunteers and members behind the same cause – your values, vision and purpose. At its best your brand is a guiding organizational principle that steers your not-for-profit and helps you become more effective and innovative.

Externally your brand is a marketing tool that, if articulated and designed appropriately, evokes the desired feelings in your audience, helps you raise your profile, and create trust in the minds' of your donors. But for your brand to be effective, you obviously have to be able to deliver on your promises. Hence the focus should be on getting the internal brand right first.


Why it's the time to get serious about it

Whether you like it or not, your not-for-profit is a brand. But the question is, are you effectively branded? Most not-for-profits involve enthusiastic and dedicated people, but is the brand explaining to the outside world what can be experienced as part of it?

There has been a huge increase in the number of charities and other types of organizations going after a limited pool of funds, members and volunteers. However, many not-for-profits are struggling to define and differentiate themselves in an increasingly homogenous market. As the economic crisis only deepens, the pressure is on the not-for-profits for becoming more creative and innovative in order to survive the challenges ahead.

But long before the latest global financial crisis, the not-for-profit sector has been shaken by some big changes. While many not-for-profit organizations have grown reliant on government funding, most governments have slowly started to shift the responsibility of financing them to the private sector in an overall attempt to encourage social responsibility.

The corporate donors, however, are much more business-like in choosing the not-for-profit organizations to collaborate with. They understand that a well defined and consistent brand is a sign of reliability and efficiency. Not just that, but they are keen to support not-for-profits with brand recognition.

To attract members, volunteers and funding in this new era, today’s charitable organizations need to be able to articulate their values, vision and purpose with clarity and communicate these effectively to the various audiences in a unique, exciting and consistent manner.

Although branding has been traditionally perceived going against the ethos of most not-for-profit organizations; it nevertheless is the art form which enables today’s charities to respond to the changing world around us and become more innovative and effective.