Being on brand

Ferris Wheel at nightOver the summer I went to a fundraiser for the YMCA. It was a different type of event than I’ve ever been to before.

First it was on a farm. Definitely not the usual venue for a corporate fundraiser. Second, the dress code was “country chic”–as in denim, plaid and cowboy boots. There were carnival games like cornhole and even a ferris wheel. Food was farm-fresh and served family-style, and there wasn’t a rubber chicken in sight.

As a farm girl myself, this was definitely my scene. But more than just enjoying an unusual night out, the fundraiser got me thinking about brand.

Brand is the essence of an organization. It’s not a logo. It’s not a slogan. It’s the qualities you think of when you think of a company or a group. It’s the emotion it elicits.

When I think of about so many organizations and then look at their fundraisers, I often feel there’s a disconnect. The country chic farm fundraiser wouldn’t work for all organizations. It wouldn’t fit. But it did fit for a fun, family, children and community event. It was casual and active. It was authentic. It was on brand. And, the result? It worked! People bought into the theme. The silent and live auctions were hugely successful.

When I try to re-imagine this event at a banquet hall with everyone dressed in suits and fancy dresses eating the typical rubber chicken dinner, it’s just not “on brand.” It definitely doesn’t make me feel like I’m a part of what the Y was doing. What it’s about at its core.

Whether it’s special events or communications, it’s important to be true to yourself. It’s all about your brand and making your brand come to life.

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