Strategist Vandana on how Charity:Water has created an aspirational non-profit brand.
My first couple of months at Cracker & Rush were spent trying to familiarise myself with the world of branding through reading and research. Having no prior experience in this space, I wanted to not only learn more about it, but also wanted to connect two worlds that seemed to consciously stay apart: branding and non-profits.
It was during one such research spree that I came across a non-proft that I have grown to admire, respect and, above all, believe in – Charity:Water
Charity:Water works to ensure access to clean and safe drinking water in developing countries. Started in 2006 by Scott Harrison, this not-for-profit has done something which few in its sector have been able to achieve. It has made its brand aspirational.
From its logo to its simple visual language, Charity:Water has reinvented branding in the social sector as something that is engaging, emotional and charismatic. The brand uses compelling images and storytelling in an exceptionally impactful manner.
While its story and messaging is exemplary, Charity:Water reinforced its brand by making transparency an important pillar of the brand’s operations.
A common grouse most donors have against non-profits is the use of their donated money in the meeting of operational costs. Charity:Water addressed this concern by setting up two separate bank accounts: one for projects and one for administrative costs.
The brand is particularly adept at tapping into the potential of technology to propagate transparency. For instance, Charity:Water installs a GPS locator on every water project, giving donors and stakeholders from around the world the opportunity to track – in real time – the impact their donation is making in another part of the world. This communication of a tangible impact has helped the brand build immeasurable trust and credibility for itself.
Charity:Water’s use of social media too is truly remarkable. I have never before seen a non-profit harness the power of social media so efficiently. From their website, to their Twitter feed, their Facebook page and their Instagram account, the brand’s omni-channel approach ensures that their target audience is always consuming up-to-date media that is powerful and engaging. Take for instance, the stories of their beneficiaries which the brand shares with consumers using photographs and short quotes (think Humans of New York). These photographs and stories are also used to tap into topical, mainstream events like Father’s Day or Back To School month.
The brand’s campaigns too are designed for engagement on social media. I especially admire their ‘Give Up Your Birthday’ campaign where, in lieu of gifts, a birthday boy/girl asks their friends to donate money equal to their age to Charity:Water. This campaign, like most campaigns by Charity:Water, has been very successful, especially with millennials.
I am yet to find an Indian non-profit which has done what Charity:Water has done for me: narrate a compelling story about the the brand and the cause, and depict it impeccably through a visual language that is engaging, aspirational and, above.
All photographs sourced from Charity:Water’s Instagram account.