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4 Tips to Develop Effective Brand Positioning

Updated on February 1, 2018

Make Marketing Great Again

How to Establish Effective Brand Positioning As a Nonprofit

Make Marketing Great Again - 4 Tips to Develop Effective Brand Positioning

“Good marketing makes the company look smart. Great marketing makes the (Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, 2004)customer feel smart.” - Joe Chernov

Too many times, businesses are looked at as the enemy. They are seen as working against society, when in all reality, the life we know and love would not exist without them. Business is the foundation of America, giving us the land of the free and a country that supports the prosperity of its people. It is important to understand your role in this country, both as a business professional and as a consumer. It may seem next to impossible to serve such a critical role in a massive market, but it all starts by supporting your community, and nonprofits do just that (Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, 2004). With successful nonprofits come influential communities and an affluent society in which individuals are proud and happy to be apart of.

With that being said, I have had the opportunity to work with a local, nonprofit organization for the past few weeks, known as the National Mill Dog Rescue (NMDR), here in small town Peyton, Colorado. In the short but productive time working hand in hand with this local organization, I have gained first hand insight as to what marketing in a non-profit entails and acquired marketing knowledge from an internal perspective. The most significant piece of knowledge I took from that experience was the importance of brand positioning in the nonprofit sector.

Positioning is defined as, “the act of designating a company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the minds of the target market” (Kotler and Keller 2012). Although positioning is critical in every business model, it is especially important in the nonprofit sector. In order for an organization to be classified as a nonprofit, “it must further religious, scientific, charitable, educational, literary, public safety or cruelty prevention causes or purposes” (Investopedia, 2018). Bottom line, they are backed by a strong purpose, which means it is important to find a distinctive place in the minds of your target market. This is done with effective brand positioning. I have drawn 4 key points that are helpful to utilize when establishing positioning particularly for your nonprofit.

1. Know who you’re up against.

Understand that even though you are a nonprofit, you are still a business, and you still have competitors. They might be a little different than a for-profit organization, but it is important to identify your competitors before you do anything else in the context of positioning. The industry will provide you with information as to who is in it, what are they doing, and where do you fit in? Don’t dive until you know how deep the water is. Evaluate the situation, and then decide how you want to proceed. It is impossible to successfully position a brand without knowing your competitors.

2. POD’s are the MVP’s.

POD’s, or points-of-difference will be a great help understanding what your organization is better at than any other. In other words, it is your selling point, what will mold your place in the industry. They are attributes that consumers positively correlate to your brand and believe they can’t find with any other company (Kotler and Keller 2012). Perception truly is reality in the marketing world - what consumers perceive to be true is your brand’s reality. Find your POD in the particular nonprofit sector you are positioning, and use that to your greatest advantage.

3. Get interactive.

Your company isn’t boring, so why should your marketing be? The Internet has given us the power to connect with our consumers and build relationships faster and better than we were ever able to before. Marketing is like dating - you need to treat your relationship with the consumer with the same importance as a spouse. Don’t sell them your product/service - sell them your brand. Social media is a great channel for this. It allows you to advertise on a social platform that encourages engagement on posts, sharing of information, and creating relationships with potential consumers (Shah & Sharma, 2017). It is a great way to communicate the usefulness of your brand to the consumer without pressuring them.

4. Everything you do, do with your mission in mind.

The final and arguably the most important tip - be sure all of your marketing efforts align with your organization’s core purpose. It is imperative you don’t lose sight of your mission when establishing a brand position, because it is made in the image of your organization. Some businesses get so caught up in getting their target market involved, their mission gets lost in translation and their entire foundation now doesn’t exist. Remember who your organization is and what they stand for.

Establishing an effective brand position in the market it is a critical aspect in any company’s success. Being an organization with a mission, a non-profit holds the potential to make a true impact on their community. Improving your brand positioning efforts will not only help the business generate more revenue and support the organization’s mission, but it will also contribute to the prosperity of the community and the individuals within it.


Confederation of Swedish Enterprise. (2004). The role of business in society.

Investopedia. (2018). Nonprofit Organization. Retrieved Jan 28, 2018, from Investopedia:

Kotler, P. & Keller, K. (2012). Marketing management. New York, NY: Prentice Hall.

Shah, M., & Sharma, R. (2017). Product / Brand Positioning and Interactive Advertising. Journal of Commerce, Economics & Management , 1 (3), 6-10.


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