One passing tweet that caught my eye the other week mentioned how great it would be if fundraising and communications departments could work better together. Apologies if that sounds a little vague, but I subsequently misplaced the aforementioned tweet in the ether.
Anyway I’m pretty sure the tweet came out of the international fundraising convention in Amsterdam, which I enjoyed eavesdropping on. So while I’m unable to credit the tweeter personally (unless they identify themselves), I would like to thank them for raising an issue that many of us have experienced whether working in a charity or, at a little further distance, here in an agency.
Brand (the use of) tends to be one of the main bones of contention between fundraising and communications departments. And I’ve often thought that any fundraiser who finds themselves caught in between a fundraising rock and a communications hard place might find great solace/inspiration in a book called ‘Lovemarks’*.
It’s a good few years since I first read ‘Lovemarks’ and my (Bluefrog’s) copy is looking a tiny bit dated. The words however are as relevant and thought-provoking as ever. Today I’d like to share a few of them with you (whilst urging you to buy a copy yourself if you like the sound of it).
Right from the first page, ‘Lovemarks’ is packed full of wisdom. Take this, from Yoshio Ishizaka, Executive Vice President of Toyota.
‘Whenever we are struck with any obstacles or difficulties, I always say to myself: ‘Listen to the market, listen to the voice of the customer’. Branding, image, or Lovemarks are determined by the customer, not us. We really cannot determine anything. The customer does that. That is the essence.’
Replace ‘customer’, with ‘donor’ and you have a statement that I think might send many charity communications departments aquiver.
Here’s another pearl (and I’m still on the foreword. The actual book hasn’t started yet).
‘The best brands consistently win two crucial moments of truth. The first moment occurs at the store shelf when a consumer decides whether to buy one brand or another. The second occurs at home, when she uses the brand again – and is delighted, or isn’t. Brands that win these moments of truth again and again earn a special place in consumer’s hearts and minds; the strongest of these establish a lifelong bond with consumers.’
That comes from someone tremendously important at Proctor & Gamble, but writing his tremendously important job title would actually take more time than writing this sentence telling you why I’m not bothering. And again, you can make the necessary adjustments to make it apply to donors and charities, which after all must be better placed that Proctor & Gamble’s portfolio of products to ‘establish a lifelong bond’.
And so on to the main points of the book that I wanted to highlight today, which are:
· Brands have been smothered by ‘creeping conservatism’ – they should be more inspiring.
· Brands are put together by formula and fail to connect with customers.
· We need to think about brands in a new way.
· We should learn from the brands that people ‘love’ as they have created a genuine emotional connection with their customers. These are more than brands, they are ‘lovemarks’.
There’s obviously much more to it, but an interesting part of the book is where people talk about the brands they love (‘Lovemarks’) and what makes them different from the brands that they ‘leave on the shelf in the store’ or ultimately disappoint.
These include Birkenstock, Apple (of course), IKEA (submitted by someone who is clearly insane) and Campbell’s soup. Also shared are examples of how far that consumer love goes – in the case of LOMO cameras, asking Vladimir Putin to start manufacturing them again. I guess Cadbury's Wispa Gold campaign would be a more recent example of how consumers can come to the forefront of advertising a product they 'love'.
One useful section of the book contrasts the values of a brand against a 'lovemark'. Here's a selection of the most relevant points for those of us who are involved in fundraising.
BRAND v LOVEMARK
Recognised by consumers Loved by people
I've picked out these ones as they seem to me absolutely made for capturing what's brilliant about charities and I'd love to see that kind of inspirational thinking used a little wider.
Anyway, I thought I’d end by sharing a ‘lovemark’ of my own – not a charity, but chosen because I think there’s a fair amount of good practice that is as applicable to charities as the brand itself, which is…
As you'll see here, Persephone is able to sum up in just 11 words – and no jargon – exactly what it uniquely does (something that many charities might envy).
‘Persephone Books reprints neglected classics by 20th century (mostly women) writers.’
And you can see here some examples of their very beautiful books. (In the course of searching for that image, I came across someone who referred to them as 'strokeable books').
And typical of a ‘Lovemark’, I'd have to admit that my heart rules my head in my choice of Persephone. I love their exquisitely beautiful books, with matching bookmark and end paper, beyond the rational. Each book is more expensive than your average paperback and far more than a second hand version of the same book, but that's not the point is it? Or rather it's exactly why it works as a 'Lovemark'. I've also been guilty of convincing myself that I enjoy what’s between the covers far more than I actually do - just because they look so pretty and the company communicates with me in a way I enjoy.
Persephone knows its audience well. Twice a year, I receive the Persephone Biannually which you can see here. Unlike many charity newsletters, I'd be delighted to get it more often and it is also used really well to sell books (without ever hard-selling). Instead, it does a marvellous job of whetting your appetite for their latest publications. There's always a long extract/short story from one book in particular, readers reviews and recommendations, plus a full listing, with a precis of all their books.
This is the back cover. Like many charity newsletters, it's used to sell in events - in this case, film showings, book clubs, talks etc. I'm sure I'll never attend one but, as I said, they do know their audience well because I'd love to have the time to go (and if I did, I'd undoubtedly take them up on their offer of a cup of tea and a slice of cake - homemade of course). Going back to the list above, it's a great demonstration of how their values are infused in their brand/lovemark.
As this is the edition of the Biannually closest to Christmas, I also got this - a catalogue, which I actually enjoyed reading whilst inevitably thinking who I might buy a book for.
I won't reproduce it, but there's a simple order form so I can buy straightaway and a little bit of reciprocation used to spur me on - below you can see the free bookmark I was sent.
And the back, a bit bigger so you can see it gives you a taster of one of the books.
From a design point of view, it's worth just pointing out how individual Persephone's style is and how well it is used across all their materials to make them uniquely theirs. Finally, there's there's this website – nothing flash but also a genuinely interesting blog here that I wish I had time to read a little more regularly.
And so to finish, one last quotation from 'Lovemarks'.
'Inspiration creates action' it says close to the end. And aren't we all about inspiring people to take action? So here's to a future when charity brands are far more than a set of rules, but instead capture their spirit and do justice to the wonderful work they do.
And I should probably mention that my colleague, Mark Phillips – this chap – will be following up my post with some interesting analysis on charity brands on his blog, in the next few days, so watch this space.
‘Lovemarks’ is by Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide, Saatchi and Saatchi.