Your Communications Guide
Helping Equitas - and others - articulate brand promise
In our conversations with clients, we often find it important to distinguish between strategy and culture. Conversations about brand often take place in the realm of strategy – where you are going, who you want to be. But it is equally important that who you are – your culture, your being as well as your becoming – influence brand conversations.
Because this helps us create the most effective platform of communications between you and your audience, your promise and their expectations. So more and more, we at Widgets find ourselves writing brand communication guides for business and not-for-profit clients alike – that the organization can use through in-house teams, other designers and writers or agencies of record.
As interest in social action grows in America and around the world, philanthropy is changing. It only takes a glance at the emergent social entrepreneurship movement and Red Cross text message fundraising to see this is true. But there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done. Thank God that Equitas is working, right now, on Restavec in Haiti, and child sex slavery in SE Asia and Haiti.
Working with writer and communication strategist Caleb Ludwick, we created a communication guide for Equitas, to help them build trust among resource partners here in the USA, credibility in field projects around the world and public interest.
Given that social action is increasingly becoming an industry (sometimes a good thing; sometimes bad), first order of business was identifying mis-steps to avoid. Over and over, organizations doing related or similar work make one of two mistakes, which are flip sides of the same coin. Either they accuse the public, slapping a marketing-addled, selfish, sleepy West with a message of "Wake up!" The focus here is, too much, on the organization's own identity as cultural prophet. Alternately, organizations working on such issues entice participation as a reaction to the face-slappers. Celebrity endorsements, activism as a culture of cool. The focus here is on the organization's own identity as change agents.
Both of these mis-steps cheapen the suffering of the oppressed. And from a communications perspective, both run the risk of eroding credibility and developing public callous.
So from day one we wanted to ensure that the focus for Equitas communications is always on the oppressed individuals, rather than the identity of the organization or of donors. Because real change requires boldness. It needs someone who is willing to step out in a leadership position – and a willingness on the part of that person to help others along. Persistence and patience – as well as the humility to learn from others along the way.
Second, we created audience profiles for donors and resource partners, field partners, and members of the public who are interested/engaged.
And because, as Equitas' leaders said, philanthropy is a tool for partnering with others to work together toward justice – we wanted to build trust and credibility so audiences become partners. So we helped clarify and articulate Equitas' core values.
Their work is about more than intervention and holistic restoration. It is about defending people in deep need. Refusing to tolerate the intolerable, fighting for real change, and following a mandate of love no matter where it takes them.
The communication guide, then, focused on how to TALK, TELL, ARTICULATE – and from there, the designers took these concepts and created an application structure that SHOWS Equitas' core values – bringing them to key audiences in ways that achieve their objectives.
The communication objective
Build awareness and trust, by telling the truth to encourage engagement.
The communication methodology
Tell the truth with authority and compassion. Give straightforward information in simple and engaging ways.
The communication core
Truly looking, taking action
The guide centered on
effective use of the name, elevator pitch, longer statement of good, highest and best use of the mission statement.
And also delivered short statements of commitment and values, inroads into the message that can be used as headlines, copy on web images, first lines of articles or blog posts, and more.
HATE HATE. LOVE ... for a mini-case study on the foundations of the good work.
FREE THE OPPRESSED … for a mini-case study on real, holistic, lasting change.
VOICE FOR THE VOICELESS ... for a mini-case study on how love motivated by selflessness is real.
INTOLERATE THE INTOLERABLE ... for a mini-case study that is a more explicit call to action
I KNOW YOU ARE, BUT WHAT AM I? ... for a mini-case study on how child slaves and prostitutes are robbed of their childhood and even sense of self... but how healing is possible.
As well as application in collateral, web, launching and developing social media.