ADRC-TAE Issue Brief
Private Industry Lessons: Branding Concepts and Strategies for the Social Service Sector
Prepared by: Gilbert Thompson
The Lewin Group thanks Catherine Adams Hunt, Marketing Specialist at Iowa State University Extension, for her thoughtful review and contributions.
The Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC) initiative is designed to serve as a “single point” of entry to public long-term care support programs, benefits and resources. Its national vision is to serve as a highly visible and trusted place for information and resources on longterm care and disability in every community. ADRCs are charged with increasing the visibility, awareness, acceptance, and use of the program, which can be achieved through an array of marketing strategies and activities, such as branding. Successful branding can become a strong and enduring asset for ADRCs. It can also be a value driver to boost and promote ADRCs as “the” trusted source for long-term support options and information on public programs and benefits. This issue brief provides and overview of branding, its benefits, core elements of branding and suggested branding strategies.
When talking about brands and branding, most people think about Coca Cola, Apple, Volvo, Starbucks, and other private sector businesses. Rarely do government or human service organizations come to mind, nor do they think of themselves as brands or potential brands. However, public and social sector organizations are well positioned to become powerful brands, because they can provide a consistent brand and message. Additionally, these organizations often serve small niche markets and have an intimate understanding of the communities they serve. Whether their focus is on community service, education, the arts, or research, their familiarity of one topic or field is a solid basis on which to build a brand.
OVERVIEW OF BRANDING
Brands are often thought of as a single message, logo, or slogan; however a brand can be much more. A brand encompasses these tangible attributes, along with consumer interactions, and public relations. In short, a brand is the sum total of every experience people, consumers, clients, and target populations have with a company/organization, their products and services. According to the American Marketing Association, a brand is a name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or a combination of these intended to identify goods or services of a supplier or group of suppliers1. A brand identifies the suppliers’ implicit values, ideas, and even personality. It serves to create impressions that can be associated with a product or service, as well as expectations of certain qualities or characteristics that make it unique. Branding combines elements of marketing and advertising. Marketing and advertising demonstrate what the brand owner is able to offer to the marketplace, consumers and target populations. For consumers,
Kotler, P. (2001) A Framework for Marketing Management (9 ed.). Prentice Hall
ADRC-TAE Issue Brief
branding provides the means through which they can make choices and judgments about products or services. For example, when shopping for laundry detergent or purchasing coffee, consumers are more likely to select a more expensive, popular brand such as Tide detergent or Starbucks coffee, on the basis of the perceived quality of the brand and the reputation of the brand owner. Therefore, to successfully brand a product or service, it is important to remember that branding is not what we do to the product or service, it is how it is perceived by the mind of the consumer.
BRANDING BENEFITS AND IMPORTANCE
Human Service organizations are recognizing brands as tangible assets that can benefit them, just as brands have been successful for many private sector businesses. The benefits of branding include:
Creating a consistent impression, image, and trigger in the minds of...
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