Published: 28 July 2014

Connecting with individuals

How do we engage our audiences? Two speakers at the recent CharityComms Brand Breakfast had very different answers.

Jon Alexander, director of New Citizenship Project and former brand strategist for The National Trust, believes that we should think of people as ‘citizens’ rather than ‘consumers’. When brands speak to people as consumers, we know that ultimately they want to sell us something. When we’re treated as citizens, we’re more likely to act more generously.

But how can we involve people in our cause as citizens not just as consumers? People engage with the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of your brand. They support you because they share your values; this makes them loyal to you.

Jon explained that defining the brand purpose of The National Trust was the most important step in creating a platform people could engage with. It helped open up all sorts of ways for people to get involved with the experiences the Trust offers.

For Victoria Loomes, a trend analyst at trendwatching.com, brands can engage with people by knowing what makes them tick: unlocking people’s needs, desires, wants or values.

Victoria identified three key current trends which could be useful for charity brands to consider: status seekers, guilt-free status and demanding brands.

Status seekers
Status has changed and we are no longer happy being defined just by our possessions. We want new experiences we can share with our friends. We care about the world and that’s what we want to be known for.

Guilt-free status
People believe in doing good. In fact, it’s such a strong belief that we want to make a positive impact even while doing things that make us happy. This has resulted in brands that enable us to contribute but not give up anything.

Demanding brands
Brands that demand people make an active effort to help their cause and be part of change. Victoria’s advice – make smaller, more immediate demands to involve people at a local level, and spark a bigger change.

We live in a world where people want to have a say and engage with brands that share their beliefs. When that happens, people are inspired to do good and make change happen. It’s no longer about broadcasting messages or asking for blind support: brands have to get everyone involved on an individual level.

The presentations from the morning are available here.


Sara Shelley, GOOD Agency

Sara followed her heart from the client services team at GOOD Agency into the strategy department. She uses her Masters degree in brand leadership to unleash the good with The Prince’s Trust, Mercy Ships, Refugee Action and the RNLI.