Nonprofit Branding: Don’t Step Over A Dollar To Save A Dime

Let’s agree that a great deal of institutional resources were invested in building your brand.  But here’s something that may surprise you:  if your organization were a for-profit being sold to new owners, IRS and accounting rules would assign a substantial monetary value to your brand and place that value in the asset column on your balance sheet. Just because you have a nonprofit classification, don’t disregard the financial value of your brand or underestimate your responsibility to protect that value. It’s a BIG asset!

Of course, the value of a brand is measured in different ways. One measure is the extent to which the general public recognizes and honors that brand. Another measure – the one I am concerned with in this post – is the more intimate esteem of those who provide financial support for your mission. And that’s where you can get into trouble.

There are situations where it is expensive for a brand-intensive nonprofit to save money. VERY expensive!

It appears that most nonprofits purchase imprinted logo-items to build brand identity, making the nonprofit sector the largest consumer in the nearly $20 Billion promotional products industry.  When making these purchases, many nonprofit managers accidentally engage in a costly form of expense control. Here is the paradox they face:

• Some nonprofit execs think “Because we are a nonprofit, we cannot afford the higher-quality version of our imprinted branding product.”

• Recognizing that position as being shortsighted, a more astute executive thinks this way:  “Specifically because we are a nonprofit, we cannot afford to put our brand on a lower quality product.”


The imprint on her favorite logo-mug faded in the dishwasher!

The world of nonprofit public service is the world of affinity-marketing. When dealing with imprinted products the cost/quality relationship is inescapable. No matter – it is also an easy place to side with the Angels.

That’s because the Angels already know that a brand can be devalued in the eyes of its constituents by well-intentioned efforts at economizing. It’s really this simple: you must not let your supporters be disappointed in the quality of a product carrying your logo because the disappointment reflects back on the brand. In the aggregate, branding  products that disappoint eventually undermine public support and cut revenue.

If you recognize that your brand is a valuable asset, you won’t put it at risk by stepping over a dollar to save a dime. Product quality and product price are tied together. In next week’s post we’ll explain how the dynamics of the promotional products industry combine with the dynamics of an affinity market to create a serious risk for brand-intensive nonprofits.

Until then, you might ponder the bottom line below….

If you are like most people, you own a bunch of T-shirts with logos. Some you wear often. Some you usually bypass. So, the question is this: when selecting from your T-shirt collection, don’t you usually choose the better shirts with the better imprints and avoid lesser quality shirts and those with faded or imperfect logos?

If you answered in the affirmative, then you are ready for next week’s post about production shortcuts, product quality and owner satisfaction with imprinted branding products.

Have your own example of a branding product that disappointed due to a quality deficit?  Please tell me about it in the comments section of this post or in an email to [email protected] I have examples of my own to use in next week’s post – but would appreciate any others I can gather. So, send them along.   And….thanks in advance.


2 thoughts on “Nonprofit Branding: Don’t Step Over A Dollar To Save A Dime

  1. Pingback: NONPROFIT BRANDING: Cost, Impact and Use of Coffee Mugs | Nonprofit Branding Blog

  2. Pingback: To Protect The NPR Brand, His Retired Mother Worked The Assembly Line. | Nonprofit Branding Blog

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