Published: 16 February 2015

Creating a work culture with your brand

When some people think of ‘brand’ they quickly jump to design and how things look, or possibly how design and language can be combined to create a distinct personality. But the best brands all have loyal followers who have an emotional connection to them.

Strong brands, regardless of sector, are a collective of people aligned behind a shared purpose, with an understanding of the values that bind them all together. As a brand connoisseur there is nothing greater than experiencing a culture where everyone gets up in the morning with the same goal in mind; where you can actually feel the passion, pride and commitment around you.

Are you doing the expected?

Brand as a specialism has exploded in the charity sector over the last decade. Many charities are now fortunate to have a brand manager or even whole teams of them. But whilst many do the expected (create guidelines and templates, hijack staff inductions, establish networks of brand champions, work with human resources to embed the values in performance management) the recent Brand Breakfast demonstrated how much further people are now going creatively.

Are you being creative enough?

Brand theme tunes. Immersive spaces to get people to experience the brand and get them closer to the cause. Workshops to co-create a ‘brand idea’ to help galvanise people. Even staff in costume doing choreography. When you forget the old days of the ‘brand police’ and think creatively anything is possible. This is why brand strategists, internal communications managers and creative teams need to collaborate more.

Demystify and democratise

There are sadly still those in the charity sector who are sceptical or critical of branding’s worth, but with more and more creativity on show the tides are changing. Those of us with ‘brand’ in our title, or as part of our role, have a collective responsibility to continue to demystify what a brand is, what it can achieve and to make sure it remains fun, exciting and dynamic.

Be brave, think big

There are endless quotes of what a brand is but Ije Nwokorie, global chief executive of Wolff Olins, recently delivered a fab new one to Design Week: “Branding sits at the juxtaposition of commerce, culture, technology and society – all these rich meaningful things. It is as fluid as a mark that people can remember and it is big enough that it can absolutely change what a city or a country is about.”

Ije thinks nice and big and so should we in the charity sector. I may be biased, but when it comes to brand don’t underestimate what it can achieve for your work culture.


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.