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Branding Myths

Reprinted from Branding Bytes

Myth #1: Marketing and branding are one and the same.

Reality: Branding is less about marketing, advertising, and public relations and more about good leadership, appropriate and ethical behavior, and an organization's commitment and ability to fulfill the covenant, or promises, its brand represents. A brand reflects everything associated with an organization, including, but not limited to, the quality of its:

  • Work
  • Reputation
  • Leadership
  • Staff
  • Culture and core values
  • Programs, services, and products
Think of it this way: The brand characteristics you appreciate and admire most in the companies and organizations you like doing business with should be the same brand characteristics to model and nurture in your own organization.

Myth #2: Once we have an attractive logo and catchy tagline, we have our brand.

Reality: Many organizations spend an inordinate amount of time, energy, and money developing logos and taglines, believing that they are creating their brands. In fact, a logo and tagline are simply the banners for the brand. Your brand drills much deeper into the core of your organization (see Myth #1).

If all you have is an attractive logo and tagline without the commitment and ability to fulfill whatever promises your brand conveys, then what you have is all sizzle and no steak—and it won't take long for your target audiences to see the smoke and realize there's no meat.

Myth #3: Branding is the responsibility of our Communications/Marketing/Public Relations/External Affairs Departments.

Reality: Branding is the responsibility of everyone, from board members to support staff. If it helps, consider the person who answers your phones your "Director of First Impressions."

You might hear, "I work in finance. What does that have to do with branding?" Just ask the folks who worked for Enron, Arthur Anderson, World Com, Global Crossing, and a slew of other for-profits and nonprofits, alike, how much their finance folks had to do with their organizations' brands—and their livelihoods!

Myth #4: We don't have a budget for branding our organization.

Reality: If you effectively leverage your current resources—namely your board members, staff, volunteers, customers, etc.—you may not need much of a budget to better brand your organization.

Your brand is only as good as the people who live it day in and day out. Board members, staff, and others who are knowledgeable about what your brand represents, take pride in their work, feel secure in their jobs, and are appreciated for the good work that they do make excellent ambassadors for your brand.

Consider: The founders of both Google and relied exclusively on word of mouth to get their companies off the ground.

Larry Checco, Checco Communications
© 2006, Checco Communications

Larry Checco is president of Checco Communications and author of Branding for Success: A Roadmap for Raising the Visibility and Value of Your Nonprofit Organization. In more than 25 years of nonprofit communications experience, he has helped raise the brand visibility, fundraising capabilities, membership levels, and impact of some of the nation's most respected nonprofit organizations and government agencies. For more information, go to
Topics: Communications