How brand re-creation can overcome not-for-profit fatigue

Jaid Hulsbosch
By Jaid Hulsbosch | 14 April 2023
Jaid Hulsbosch

Jaid Hulsbosch, Director at Hulsbosch

In almost every conversation I have with not-for-profit (NFP) organisations, the question is always asked: “Australians are getting ‘charity fatigue’. How do we standout?”

Recently, there has been a fundamental shift in how NFPs strategically approach their work to seek contributions and develop collaborations. In the NFP world there are increasingly more demands for donations, endorsements and advocacy but also, to be part of powerful, innovative branded initiatives and societal projects.

NFPs have expanded their brand spheres and a major component of the work is a well-defined brand that is instantly recognised and can differentiate in the sector. A successful brand program drives donations, inspires employees and increases brand awareness while deepening diverse relationships with a NFP brand.

The NFP market is competitive, and like any product or service, consumers have the ability to choose what suits them best. And ‘what’s best’ may not always be a loyalty to one NFP organisation. So, how does a NFP build trust, deliver on its charitable purpose and make a difference.

In a congested high street of corporate and commercial brand giants with supersized budgets, it can appear few NFPs have cut through, can stand out from the crowd and even challenge the status quo.

Better brand storytelling for NFPs is central; to articulate their individual story clearly and succinctly in a simple and engaging way. Data-led brand formulations is the foundation to tell compelling brand stories, that can stretch across multiple communication channels and are embedded with designs that can break through the NFP sector.

It can be difficult with most NFP organisations having so much in their offering for a range of complex programmes and services, and in addition, can be integrated with a grouping of similar organisations.

One example is Meals on Wheels programme which has 78,700 volunteers delivering 14.8 million meals annually to about 53,000 recipients in urban and rural Australia. But the brand was represented throughout Australia by 750 different organisations, each with its own identity and none of them reflecting the brand’s core purpose or reason to be.

Our work aimed to communicate to the federal government, stakeholders, donors and staff the organisation’s national reach by visually integrating its core values into an overarching identity. So, for both internal and external audiences, the one identity common across Meals on Wheels unites and bonds the organisation together is the brand.

Another branding technique is emotive personal stories that are eye-catching and simply reveals a call to action for a charity. For HeartKids, the key visual component was a young Sydney boy, currently living with congenital heart disease (CHD) which highlighted his and his family’s impactful CHD journey.

A rebrand increases understanding of often, abstract and challenging topics and issues.
For HeartKids the ‘heart-shaped’ symbol and illustrated surgical mark/scar is a unique, stand-alone graphical element to represent those affected by the disease and visually gives definition to the service and work of HeartKids.

Evolved visual identities by Hulsbosch created imaginative illustrative styles driven by simplicity with a human touch for other NFPs such as the Kidney Foundation, Starlight Children’s Foundation and the McGrath Foundation to inject some fun and optimism, but hold a harder, creative edge to the brands.

Doing something unexpected and surprising for a strengthened brand story is a pivotal step for NFPs to overcome sector fatigue, extend their reach and charge ahead with renewed momentum to promote the work they do and the people they help.


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