Trends in branding and audience engagement are constantly in flux. NGOs should always be evaluating and rethinking how to engage with their audiences if they want their brand to stay relevant and memorable in a competitive environment.
Here are five trends to get you thinking and stimulate ideas for developing your brand and growing your audience reach in 2019.
Showing an ethical purpose
The Digital Branding Institute found that 91% of millennials would switch their brands to ones that are associated with a good cause. They also noted a rise in what they call “purpose-driven marketing” by private sector brands to connect with consumers on an emotional level.
NGOs are already driven by ethical purposes and should have already put this at the core of their brands. But this trend in the private sector is an opportunity for NGOs to consider partnering with businesses to better achieve their goals.
The notion of transparency may not be new to those working in international development, but consumers and donors are demanding more transparency – they want to know where their money goes, how their products are made and what they fund. Some commercial brands have gone as far as showing their productions chains and costs, such as the Everlane fashion brand and H&M’s Arket label.
Some NGOs are already demonstrating transparency in their communications. Oxfam’s My Oxfam app provides people with regular updates on its work and allows public donors to track where their donations go. At a time when public trust in charities is low, explaining your costs and showing where your money goes can help rebuild trust in our sector.
In today’s saturated landscape of stylised branding, people are looking for authentic connections with brands. More brands are realising that they need to be more human and authentic if they want to build loyalty with their customers and supporters. Research into consumer behaviour shows that many people perceive brands similarly to how they perceive people – like humans with their own personality, characteristics, predilections and values.
Embracing digital influencers
71% of consumers say they are more likely to make a purchase based on social media references, according to the Influencer Orchestration Network. Many charities have already embraced the rise of social media influencers to build popular advocates for their brands, messages and causes.
ONE joined up with popular vlogger Tanya Burr for their Poverty is Sexist campaign, amplifying the campaign’s message to 2.5 million of her followers free of charge. Mental health charity Mind teamed up with YouTube star Zoella, who spoke about her own struggles with anxiety to her 11 million subscribers. In Kenya, we have an example Pinky Ghelani who is an ambassador for UNHCR who uses her reach of 29 thousand to help different causes like the refugee program. The key to getting your influencer marketing right is finding an ambassador for your brand whose interests and profile already aligns with your organisation’s work.
Going virtual reality
Virtual reality (VR) is being touted as the definitive experience for engaging audiences, with the UN dubbing it the “ultimate empathy machine”. 48% of people who view charity content in VR are likely to donate to the cause they experience, according to Facebook. VR headset purchases are increasing, the Google Cardboard is making VR more accessible and even the BBC has set up a VR hubto take audiences on new journeys.
Though many NGOs are hesitant to invest in this new, costly medium, some have done so to positive results. Greenpeace used VR headsets at Glastonbury to encourage charity sign-ups and developed a VR app to enable people to explore geographical areas that are in danger. The National Autistic Society designed a 360 video to let people experience the complexities that children with autism experience in their everyday life.