Creating Brand Ownership: Bringing Your Staff Along During A Rebrand

Problem Statement

So many people say, "Oh, I'm in HR/Finance/operations. The brand isn't my responsibility." But branding is about more than logos and descriptive words. An effective and impactful org needs everyone to live the brand.

Often an organization’s brand is “owned” by (AKA it’s the responsibility of) the communications team. That structure may work for some, but it might be hindering your effectiveness as an organization. In this session, we will:

  • Briefly explain why the “owned by communications” setup is troubling
  • Explain who is truly responsible for defining and leading on brand (hint: senior leadership)
  • Show how organizations that practice democratic brands that include all-staff participation and input:
    • Are more effective and can achieve greater impact
    • Attract the right people to work with and for your organization
    • Create happier workplaces and more confident employees
  • Give practical tips on how to engage staff as brand ambassadors, regardless of their role

Why am I leading this session? Well, Tides is a decades-old organization that has long had strong brand equity, but in 2016 we are refreshing our brand for launch in 2017 (hopefully right around the time of NTC!). You can get a sneak peak at some of the work we’ve done and hear my horror stories as well as my big aha! moments during this almost year-long process.

I’ll pull in a few of the people I trust most on branding, including some brilliant consultants I’ve worked with as well as at least one other nonprofit perspective.

Rachel Dearborn
Senior Communications Manager
I manage on- and offline communication at Tides. In this capacity I tell the stories of Tides' impact through our grantmaking, impact investments and fiscally sponsored projects. Previously I ran online campaigns at Upwell, a social media agency for the ocean. I am also a seasoned communications consultant with clients including Greenpeace, 18 Million Rising, the Packard Foundation and more. I love the ocean, especially sharks!

James Wu
Brand Consultant and Former Global Brand Manager at Acumen
James Wu is a brand and business strategist that works closely with CxOs and leadership teams on both the service-side and client-side. James specializes in helping organizations establish a vision for who they are, why they exist, and what makes them unique so that they can take smart risks, evolve, and grow. As an independent consultant, he has worked with Sesame Street, Oscar Health, Herman Miller Healthcare, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, WITNESS, Encore, and PolicyLink. He also serves as a strategic advisor to several early-stage enterprises. Previously, James was a Senior Strategist at SYPartners where he worked with executives at Coach, IBM, and USA TODAY on a variety of transformation and innovation initiatives. Prior to SYPartners, James was the Global Head of Branding and Creative Direction at Acumen—a non-profit whose mission is to change the way the world tackles poverty. While at Acumen, James led a rebranding of Acumen, which received praise from Richard Branson, Seth Godin, Creative Review, and Design Week. In this role, James also led Acumen's foray into the world of social media, building a community of over half a million followers, and garnering frequent praise for Acumen as one of the most influential non-profits on Twitter. Campaigns he produced during this time were featured by YouTube, ABC News, GOOD, Design Observer, and Brain Pickings. James has also worked in the development office of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), and served as the Director of Business Development for Modea—a digital advertising agency. His work is the recipient of numerous regional Addy Awards, Awwwards’ “Site of the Day,” and Communication Arts’ Brand Impact Awards.

Allison Young
Atlanta Community Food Bank
Marketing Manager
Allison Young was born spectacularly, grew marvelously and is now (almost) fully fabulous. Beyond that, she has worked for the Atlanta Community Food Bank creating and executing strategy for the website, managing all social media channels which include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more, and creating content through writing, photography and videos. She recently led the planning and roll-out to rebrand the Food Bank--the first major rebranding of the organization in its 38-year history. Previous to the Food Bank, she worked as a project manager at a branding firm within a post production house working with clients such as Zoo Atlanta, Spanx, Coca-Cola and Turner Broadcasting.