Join The NonProfit Times: or Become a member

Subscribe: Print Publication or Newsletter

Stay connected.
Stay informed.

3 Major Nonprofits Launch Rebranding Efforts

By Andy Segedin - February 4, 2016

You would think that everyone already knew the Y-USA, YWCA and Muscular Dystrophy Association. Yet, the three major, long-standing organizations chose to reintroduce themselves to the public by either rebranding or launching marketing campaigns during January.

These are already brand name organizations with resources. The Y and YWCA ranked first and 24th, respectively, in the NPT 2015 Top 100. MDA ranked 92nd the last time it was on the list, in 2011.

“If it weren’t for the nightly news,” the voiceover on the commercial booms, “no one would ever think of this place.” Finding the good in communities, and Y-USA’s hand in them, highlights one of the television spots for the Chicago-based organization’s branding campaign.

The campaign follows a five-year rebranding initiative that came in response what organizational leaders believed to be confusion regarding the Y’s work, according to Donna M. Bembenek, vice president of marketing communications. While the public held a positive view of the Y, understanding the scope of its work proved more challenging for people to understand. During the past five years, Y-USA has worked with affiliates across the country to build capacity and work toward moving in the same, unified direction, she said.

A pair of television spots – Places, that focuses on underserved communities and Idle Hands, which directs attention to the needs of children across the country – lead the multi-tiered campaign. The spots debuted on primetime television programs including 60 Minutes and Madam Secretary. The campaign will continue on network and cable programming, digital media and social media through both paid and donated slots, Bembenek said.

Each spot concludes with a scrolling list of the Y’s services, including mentorship, childcare, education and meal programs. “We put that scroll because of the Y and our ability to drive high-impact programs with very specific, measured outcomes,” Bembenek said. Members of the public who are more familiar with the Y and its offerings are more likely to help, and the goal of the spots is to drive home the point that communities need that support.

The Y’s campaign is slated to go on for three years through various components, including digital rollouts scheduled for later this year. One such effort, called Reverse the News, accompanies news stories with ads stating how the Y is addressing the needs illustrated in the news and an opportunity to donate by targeting keywords in the story. For example, a story about America’s obesity epidemic might be met with an ad highlighting the Y’s healthy-living initiatives.

The tool will be piloted exclusively with New York Times’ content in 2016, with a goal of national expansion and the ability to show local affiliates how to utilize it with local news sites. “We haven’t been very good at telling our own story,” Bembenek said. “Reverse the News gives us a way to link to urgent news stories of the day.”

Looking up in Times Square in the middle of Manhattan is all one needs to see that the Y isn’t the only Y-organization looking to get the word out about what it’s doing in communities across the country. YWCA, which until late last year carried the corporate name “Young Women’s Christian Association,” launched its own brand awareness campaign. The campaign will include ads in Times Square and various publications, as well as digital marketing, according to CEO Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D.

The new corporate name is more reflective of the Washington, D.C.-based organization’s diverse nature and desire to engage people, Richardson-Heron said, as YWCA is committed to social justice regardless of religious affiliation. Y-USA made a similar move in 2010, it was formerly called the YMCA or Young Men’s Christian Association.

The decision to follow up with a brand campaign came after realizing that, while corporations, foundations and individuals are fond of the YWCA, few understand the scope of its work that extends to more than 2 million girls and families in 47 states and the District of Columbia each year.

“YWCA Is On A Mission,” the organization’s new slogan, is a response to a perceived lack of awareness. Richardson-Heron described YWCA’s budget for the campaign as “limited,” with a big push likely to last for three to six months and additional brand awareness to continue for years to come. YWCA will ask members of the public to share their experiences with the organization on social media with the hashtag #OnAMission.

The immediacy of the “on a mission” message is important when speaking with corporations and foundations, Heron said, adding that it is no longer enough to talk about individuals served. Instead, corporations and foundations want to reserve resources for organizations actively impacting lives. YWCA responds by highlighting work including the providing of victims of domestic violence with relief services, affordable childcare for parents needing to go to work and leadership training for young girls, including a Science, Technology, Engineering and Science (STEM) program.

“We like to say that we drive real change everyday and that’s something we want to the world to know and we want the world to engage with us as we do that,” Richardson-Heron said.

Gender and racial discrimination, equal work for equal pay, domestic violence and immigration are issues that YWCA is still addressing after 158 years. The topics are also likely to crop up during this year’s election cycle. YWCA is a nonpartisan organization, but that will not stop efforts to make sure that communities get out and vote. Richardson-Heron anticipates YWCA to continue advocacy efforts against laws that “disproportionately impact people of color, women, girls and families from achieving the American Dream that we all hold dear.”

The battles remain the same, but approaches have evolved. Social media has been an important addition to YWCA’s work. “Before, women and the YWCA were out with picket signs during the Civil Rights Movement,” she said. “We still do that, but now we have social media and might drop a Thunderclap. We’re able to get people active in that way.”

Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) executives returned to the organization’s roots when they relaunched the brand at Carnegie Hall in New York City, the site of the Chicago-based organization’s first telethon in 1956. “When I see the new heart in the MDA logo, know that I see my own heart,” the telethon’s longtime host, Jerry Lewis, said via a video message, referring to the heart within the “D” of MDA’s new blue and gold logo.

A new campaign title, “Live Unlimited,” and tagline, “For strength, independence and life,” were also unveiled at the brand relaunch.

The new look and new message capped what has been several years of great change at MDA. In 2011, Lewis ended his run hosting the organization’s annual Labor Day telethon, which he had done since 1966, and departed as national chairman. That same year, the telethon’s format down to a six-hour primetime format as opposed to the near-full-day event it had previously run.

MDA moved its headquarters from Tucson, Ariz. to Chicago three years later. Some staff members remain in Tucson. The telethon continued to down to three and then two-hour broadcasts until being discontinued after 58 years in 2015.

The organization’s 2016 national ambassador, Joe Akmakjian was introduced at the rebrand. At 24 years old, Akmakjian is the first adult to serve in the role. He will spend the year traveling the country and meeting with sponsors and families in his role as ambassador. MDA will look forward by connecting with more adults aging with neuromuscular diseases as well as move further into the digital age by engaging on multiple platforms, Akmakjian said.

MDA’s brand relaunch also included programming commitments, a path marked by three C’s, according to Christopher Rosa, Ph.D, vice chair of MDA’s board of directors.

  • Cure. MDA leaders committed to doubling research on drug development and clinical trials. MDA awarded 103 research grants totaling $27.3 million in 2015, according to the organization’s website.
  • Care. MDA plans to increase its support and care to families to 150,000 by 2020, a 50 percent increase. Support services will extend to telemedicine and digital tools such as a research center that will connect individuals and families to experts in the field, Rosa said.
  • Champion. Along with a refreshed website, MDA will offer a blog feature that will allow individuals to share their stories and experiences with neuromuscular diseases. MDA also plans to send 20,000 children to its weeklong summer camps at no charge to families.

“Live Unlimited” will extend into MDA’s fundraising programs and a new cause marketing campaign is scheduled to kick off in the summer. The brand activity comes at a time when the science around muscular dystrophy is experiencing significant advancements.

The first possible treatments for the most common form of muscular dystrophy, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, have come before the FDA. Additional advancements are expected to follow close behind. “More drugs are in the pipeline for the next five years than the past five decades,” said Steve Ford, chief communications and marketing officer.

Podcast_forHub_500x500

Sponsored Podcasts

Welcome to the Raise & Engage podcast, a filters-off series for nonprofit professionals hosted by Blackbaud's straight-shooting expert Danielle Johnson Vermenton. During this open-mic session, you’ll hear honest advice to help YOU do more for your cause.

Episode 6: The Power of ‘No’ at Work|| daniellejohnson-76

You have a job description, but on any given day, you're probably doing dozens of things outside the scope of that description. Combine that with the challenge of a fast-paced environment and the shifting priorities of funders, colleagues, and board members and it’s easy to fall short of doing your best. By being mindful of your limitations and capacity—and saying “no” when your plate is full—you can actually do more for your cause. In the sixth installment of the Raise and Engage podcast Danielle Johnson and Robin Anderson discuss the power of saying “no” at work.

Episode 5: Professional Development: Getting Un-Stuck|| daniellejohnson-76

In the most recent episode of Raise + Engage, Danielle is back with Brian Reich from little m media to discuss how nonprofit professionals can stay motivated and energized in their day-to-day roles. Brian shares his experience working with nonprofits and the lessons and tips he's learn from and shared with them over the years, including tips for avoiding a professional rut, creating forward momentum in your career and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. If you're considering making a career move or want to ensure you're on the right path, you won't want to miss this inspo-packed episode!

Episode 4: Apps and Hacks to Stay (Mostly) Sane || daniellejohnson-76

Episode 4: Apps and Hacks to Stay (Mostly) Sane, is all about tips, tricks and tools for sanity. Blackbaud’s own interactive product marketer, Julia Lenz, joins host Danielle Johnson to share some high tech. (and no tech.) productivity tips to help nonprofit professionals stay sane in the crazy world of philanthropy.

Tune in to hear:

  • Tips for how to spend the first 30 minutes of your day
  • The benefits of 15 minute meetings
  • Why notebooks are still relevant to a successful organization
  • Ideas for better managing your inbox
  • Why you should take lunch outside the box
  • ...and much more!
Don’t forget to visit the #NoFilterNonprofit Hub afterwards to download our newest tip sheet10 Productivity Hacks for Nonprofits.

Episode 3: Tech. Connection: Solutions, Strategy, and Staff || daniellejohnson-76

Episode 3: Tech. Connection: Solutions, Strategy, and Staff In episode 3 of the Raise + Engage podcast, Danielle Johnson is joined by Chris Geady and William DaSilva, two IT experts in the nonprofit space, to talk technology integration for NPOs: when you need it, when you don’t, and how to do it successfully.


Tune in to hear:

  • When to say NO to integration
  • How to set your strategic plan before even looking at technologies
  • Ways to get your entire team on board
  • The importance of identifying a project lead
  • The RFP process - how it should and should not go
And William shares a story about a nonprofit that may or may not have still been using a typewriter. You don't want to miss this one!

Episode 2: From Socially Awkward to Socially Awesome! || daniellejohnson-76

According to Danielle Johnson, straight-shooting host of the Raise + Engage podcast series, if your staff members aren’t the number one advocates for your cause on social media, you’re failing. In the most recent episode, Danielle is joined by Blackbaud’s own social media guru Madeline Turner to discuss overcoming social struggles and creating a social ambassador program at your organization. This entertaining and insightful duo dishes on the importance of making your social media presence human, making the case for a formal social program to leadership, how University of Michigan turned a one time social media campaign into a long term social program, and how Madeline's mom unknowingly became a social ambassador on #GivingTuesday.

Episode 1: Corporate Culture & Development: Shake It Up! || daniellejohnson-76

In the premiere episode of Raise & Engage, Danielle is joined by three straight-shooting nonprofit rock-stars: Jodi Smith of Sanford Health Systems, Veronica Brown of Chicago Public Library Foundation and Ali Burke of Southlake Regional Health Centre Foundation. The group talks organizational culture, problem employees, why its important to celebrate and how to shake things up this year and build a better more authentic team that gets stuff done!

Newsletters

Stay informed, catch latest trends in the nonprofit space.

Subscribe to Our Free Newsletter

No obligation, unsubscribe at anytime.

Success! Check your email inbox.

Follow Us On Twitter

NPT 2016 Buyers' Guide

Newsletter Sign-up



click here to return to the previous page