When branding becomes disconnected from the real world

I write a lot about the branding follies of organizations that lose track of their donors — and the very fabric of reality, sometimes — to create wacked-out, ineffective brands.

For the last few weeks, I’ve had an idea for a hilarious satire about an organization that rebrands kicking around in my head. It goes like this:


  • They have a name that clearly tells donors what they do, but insiders find the name limiting and problem-focused.
  • So they change the name to something almost completely generic (that is, “not tied down”), something almost nobody would grasp without an in-person explication.
  • And then, is if to ward of the possibility of someone accidentally understanding what the organization is about, they include a graphic element that can’t possibly connect to their mission.

I think the whole thing would have been pretty funny. You and I could have had a good laugh.

Then this happens…

A UK-based international relief and development organization formerly called World Emergency Relief goes and rebrands itself as Emerge Poverty Free

I’m not making this up, darn it! And the name is the least of the craziness. Here’s the new logo:

Emergelogo

Bask with me for a moment in the glorious craziness of a brand that has become unmoored from the real world:


  • A balloon, usually used to symbolize a circus, amusement park, or other children’s entertainment — used here to symbolized the fight against poverty.
  • The about-face from “Here’s what we do” to “Here’s what we wish.” Of course who emerges poverty free is left to the imagination. Most people aren’t going to figure it out.
  • The lack of capital letters. When is that fad going to die?
  • The goofball pun between the old word “Emergency” and the new word “emerge.” (I bet they think that will help donors embrace the transition.)
  • Then, the coup de grâce, the period at the end of the name. I never would have thought of that in a million years of satiric brainstorming.

I’ve watched a lot of ill-conceived nonprofit rebrands, but this one is special. It’s in an other-worldly class by itself.

World-emergency-relief
A recent article in Third Sector reports on the new brand: Brand report: Emerge Poverty Free. The article includes a hilarious assessment of the new brand by a branding expert who gives the new brand high marks and says it “exudes hope and a freeness that encapsulates the charity’s ethos and end game.” Again, I’m not making this up. I wish I were.

According to the Third Sector report, the re-branding work cost £30,000 (that’s almost $50,000 USD). Quite a bargain, at least by US standards, where it can cost two to four times that much to be bamboozled by an ad agency.

I predict a rough couple of years for emerge poverty free. It’s going to be very difficult, maybe impossible, for them to go back to their sensible old name.

Thanks to alert reader Edward Tait for the tip.

Want more of this jollity? Check out the recent Fundraising Is Beautiful podcast on this very topic!


Comments

4 responses to “When branding becomes disconnected from the real world”

  1. Charles Cherry Avatar
    Charles Cherry

    This isn’t exactly in the same category, but when Campus Crusade International announced their name change to “Cru,” it left a lot of people scratching their heads.
    http://www.ccci.org/about-us/donor-relations/our-new-name/commitment-to-christ.htm

  2. Charles Cherry Avatar
    Charles Cherry

    This isn’t exactly in the same category, but when Campus Crusade International announced their name change to “Cru,” it left a lot of people scratching their heads.
    http://www.ccci.org/about-us/donor-relations/our-new-name/commitment-to-christ.htm

  3. I almost went down this path with my Christmas tree fundraising company- my name was unique, easy to remember, and had a powerful story behind it- Small Pinecones- Thank to religiously reading this blog, I came to my senses and decided to go with something that would convey exactly what I do: Trees For a Cause – treesforacause.com

  4. I almost went down this path with my Christmas tree fundraising company- my name was unique, easy to remember, and had a powerful story behind it- Small Pinecones- Thank to religiously reading this blog, I came to my senses and decided to go with something that would convey exactly what I do: Trees For a Cause – treesforacause.com

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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