Published: 3 April 2012

Brand Value: Personal. Financial. Social.

On 28th March I attended an invigorating CharityComms Brand Breakfast on Brand Valuation, held at Action for Children.

I admit to having flicked through the Brand Valuation chapter of Rita Clifton and John Simmons' Economist Guide to Brands and Branding again and again during my 10 years in charity branding, trying to get my head around how the financial methodology applies to a not-for-profit. And so it was great to finally debate the subject with guest speaker Julian Dailly, who worked in the brand valuation team at Interbrand before joining RLSB as Director of External Affairs.

The main thing that jumped out at me was the debate about measuring social value vs. financial value. As well as just how far charity brands have come.

When I met Serena Donne from Cancer Research UK (who I initiated the Brand Breakfasts with) in 2004, charity Brand Managers were a rare breed. And yet today we were in a room of 30 of them! This in itself is evidence of the increased value charities place on their brands.

Julian shared a graph of how important the value of a brand is to different sectors. Charities were noticeable by their absence, but he argued that a charity’s brand value is much like that of a provider of luxury goods; you are buying into a feeling (provided by brand association) rather than a commodity or tangible product. Music to my ears having fought for charity brands throughout the years.

Much of the debate focused on establishing financial growth or stability through commissioned services or individual giving, both of which are dependent on demonstrating effectiveness and ROI through your brand. For me, charity branding is much more than just building awareness and understanding, which are its traditional measures. A charity brand must also build trust, which effective financial management helps to demonstrate. After all, if people know who you are, what you do, and trust in your ability to deliver they are more likely to commission you or donate to you. Joe Saxton from nfpSynergy has championed the importance of trust to charity brands for years, and on this issue I completely agree.

And so to my second observation: the growing convergence of different types of brands. At the Brand Breakfast, I sat in a room of ethical charities debating financial value and measurement. At The Good Agency we’re talking to corporate and commercial clients more and more often who want to build value into their brands through ethics. And so the worlds of commercial and charity brands collide. This has been further demonstrated by our most recent brand development projects.

Recently we have been using peoples’ personal values to determine how the brand positioning needs to shift to widen its appeal, leading to increased market share and financial growth. Pad Dade and Chris Rose highlight three motivational groups based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The theory goes that in the past charity brands used to primarily target what are called Pioneers (more ethical types), while consumer brands targeted Prospectors (more personally and selfishly motivated, or least in the eyes of Pioneers).

In modern times to create a movement of change, and increase your charity’s appeal, you need to target and appeal to both groups, extending your reach from Transcenders (an intellectually minded segment of Pioneers) to Now People (a younger, more consumer savvy segment of Prospectors). So what really interests me in all of this talk of value is how personal values can be used to advance your brand’s value; how your brand’s value can increase financial value; and how with more financial value you can deliver more social value. After all, however corporate or commercial we become in our approach, it is social value that drives most people to work for a charity in the first place.


Dan Dufour, brand strategist, The Team

Dan is one of the sector’s leading brand strategists. He has worked on brand development across all sectors including Rightmove, London 2012 and Cancer Research UK. He's best known for his award-winning work across all corners of the charity sector, including Shelter (Design Week Award), Parkinson’s UK (Design Effectiveness Award), RSPB (Third Sector Excellence Award) and Scope. Dan established CharityComms Brand Breakfast, proudly supported by The Teamand is an author of our best practice guides to branding and integrated communications.