When is a Campaign not a Campaign?

Go to fullsize image Earlier this year, I was given a wonderful opportunity to create a slogan and branding identity for a capital campaign for an educational non-profit. The challenge was that we couldn’t use the word “campaign” or “appeal.” 

Now, for those of you who have been around the block before when it comes to development and institutional advancement (aka “fundraising by asking”), you know that almost every campaign calls it like it is… a campaign!

But not this time.

The leadership didn’t want to use those words because they didn’t want this particular effort to be confused with annual fundraising appeals that go on every year. This was different. It was a chance to make a real difference with the proper approach.

You see, thanks to several million-dollar-plus gifts, the non-profit was in a position to keep the ball rolling and to seek out other large donations from its constituents – those who may be inspired by the generosity of the few.

The word we used is “Momentum.”

Sure, it’s all about “keeping the drive alive,” to quote the cliche. It’s finding the right expression to open people to the idea of giving, instead of boring them with a “been there, done that” message.  

Words to encourage action – what good fundraising writing is all about.


Patron Saints of… Marketing?

 It is better to be a hammer than an anvil.”
                                             – St. Dominic de Guzman

When you’re creating a brand, you’re crafting a message you hope will resonate and last for a long time. One that makes you stand out… one that is memorable.

I’ve always been curious about how the stories of people (and their messages) have been able to survive through the ages. When you consider historic saints, for instance, you typically have a crazy rebellious person of legendary actions. Heck, some were so persuasive that people today still devote their lives to them, or honor them in quiet ways. How many St. Francis of Assisi statues decorate gardens in your town? Quite a few in mine.

One of my favorite saints is Saint Dominic, who must have been fantastic at the art of persuasion. He started the Order of Preachers back in 1215. Born of wealthy parents, he traveled parts of Europe, sharing stories with people and correcting false information about Christian teachings. To help make his point about the perils of a worldly life (versus living simply), he practiced extreme self denial, wore uncomfortable clothes and slept on the floor instead of the beds provided.

In other words, he wrapped himself in his message.

Saint Dominic and others like him are fine examples of how personal branding can last for centuries – if your message is authentic and if its done right, with the right intentions. Here are some examples:

1) Logo and image – A dog with a torch in its mouth, and a star from his chest are both visions his mother is said to have seen around the time of Dominic’s birth. Now they’re part of his iconic images.

2) Consistent message – History books say that Dominic never spoke a work unless it was to praise God. Not a word. No “do you think it will rain?” No “these sandals are killing me.” Not a word that was not consistent with his message and his mission.

3) Stand out in the market – Dominic was passionate. He knew his market, who he wanted to persuade, and he was inspired to be as different from the existing “brands” (heretics) as possible. In his dress, in his behavior, in his message… “It is not by the display of power and pomp, cavalcades of retainers, and richly-hosteled palfreys, or by gorgeous apparel, that the heretics win proselytes; it is by zealous preaching, by apostolic humility, by austerity, by seeming, it is true, but by seeming holiness. Zeal must be met by zeal, humility by humility, false sanctity by real sanctity, preaching falsehood by preaching truth.”

4) Words supported by image – He wrapped himself in his brand, and he acted in a manner completely consistent with his message.

When you consider your own branding approach, both personally and corporately, what messages do you send? Are they consistent with the mission and goals for your business – and for your life?

When you offer “the full package,” you may not earn sainthood, but you’ll certainly be a top choice in your market to reach the clients who need you most. Be inspiring, and may your journey be Blessed!

Connecting the Dots

 New taglines and slogans often reflect a shift in a company’s marketing. Sometimes it can be a change in the company’s service focus entirely. Sure, the words can say whatever you want them to say. You can make claims out the wazoo, but you need to go back in and connect the dots internally for your external promotions to work best for you.

Here’s an example. Glass and window business uses the catchy line “We fix your panes.” But their service is inconsistent, and their technicians are gruff – to they’re actually a real pain to deal with. Disconnect. Bad for business.

Catering business uses the slogan “Because Good Just Isn’t Good Enough.” But their fare tastes like cream of mushroom soup is the base for every sauce, and their foil-pan presentation is far from ideal. In fact, “good” would be an upgrade for them! Disconnect. Bad for business.

When you’re ready to update to a fresh slogan for your business, be sure it reflects the true nature of what you do. And be sure its message is exemplified throughout every aspect of your operations – including every employee and every customer interaction.

Sometimes words simply aren’t enough. And today’s clients are cynical and savvy enough to know when you’re less than authentic. Be sure your marketing message resonates throughout your business actions. Anything else is an opportunity lost.