Awhile back the NYT ran this piece on the re-branding campaign of the United Negro College Fund.

When I saw that the Fund actually acted on the advice they received from a prominent “branding” consultancy to change their name (for non-legal communications purposes) to UNCF, I thought to myself, “what a dumb move.”

[OK, I'll concede a prejudice … I've never encountered a branding consultancy that wasn't full of hot air, including the agency involved here.]

Acronym names are totally useless unless backed by years of MEGA-marketing and advertising budgets. Even then, no one but the employees ever recognizes them. I'll bet, ten years from now, no higher percentage of non-UNCF donors will recognize the name that would recognize it today. Anyone want to take the bet?

I filed away the article till I could collect my thoughts. But then Nancy Schwartz, writing in her January 30 edition of Getting Attention wrote a superb review of this branding exercise. She found a few things that seemed praiseworthy, and a bunch of things to criticize. Her piece convinced me to award the “UNCF” a C+ instead of an F.

Thank god the “UNCF” had the good sense to keep its outstanding tagline … A mind is a terrible thing to waste! That tagline, backed by 36 years of valuable public service advertising, says everything about the organization that needs to be said … and, in fact, that's where the organization's true brand equity lies.

Unfortunately, “UNCF” didn't see the course through and come up with a name that is evocative of the organization's history and mission, and suggestive of its future.

Just my opinion!

Tom

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