Charity Branding

What are distinctive assets and how should you track them?

Over time, all of us get used to associating colours, images, messages and ideas to certain business and organisations. Think of any mainstream organisation and it’s most likely you will have a distinctive asset of theirs in mind. In simple terms, a distinctive asset is something that is specific to an organisation that can separate them from the competition and can be unique to their marketing or brand strategy.

Companies spend fortunes on protecting these assets, but it’s also helpful to consider if your charity or social enterprise has started to develop distinctive assets itself if you’re reviewing your brand effectiveness.

So why are they important?


Well, if you’re thinking of developing your brand or potentially re-branding it’s important to know what your distinctive assets are for your organisation so you can calculate the risk of replacing them or adapting them. It’s also helpful to do this even if you’re happy with your current brand as you can continue to use those psychological cues to your advantage in order to bring even more people on the journey with you.


Some well-known brand assets include the Coca Cola bottle, the Apple Logo and strangely enough, a pint of Guinness, as seen in some of their latest marketing. Those are just a few examples, but they start to give you an idea of how much value and recognition can be created over time. Notice how these aren’t just limited to logos or messaging, but can also be sounds, products or environments. Sounds are being used even more so in this area as were member sounds much easier than words for example.


While we’re talking about a much smaller scale when it comes to the level of investment needed in these assets in the charity sector, it does still give us another potential area to differentiate ourselves and gain attention from members of the public, potential donors or funders.

Key Considerations

We all hate change (just look at the outrage each time something changes on an app we all love), but sometimes it’s good to replace those assets or start to think about developing them for the first time. However, it does come with a word of caution. If a high percentage of your key audience recognises your logo, your name, your colour palette, your building, your big idea or a key message when they think of your organisation it may be worth considering how you adapt that rather than totally removing it. Will removing it decrease your brand value?Could it lead to a decline in engagement? Is changing it worth the short term pain for long term value?


These are all good questions to ask, as the benefit of understanding what are deemed as your distinctive assets means you can understand the risk associated with changing them. Sometimes areas of your brand do become bland so you need to think of creative ways to re-engage people, but sometimes replacing these distinctive symbols or areas could actually lead to a decline in engagement or awareness, so it’s important to have the data on it to make an informed decision.

We’re getting a bit more technical when it comes to charity branding with a post like this, but either way thinking through these ideas (especially when you’re established) ensures you don’t make rash decisions or remove something which helps you be remembered by those you’re supporting.

Questions to gain the data you need

So, how can you start to track what your distinctive assets are? Well, interviewing people whether in person or via digital means can be helpful, starting with some of these ideas:


- Select 4 assets from your brand (not limited to visual assets) and ask people which ones they most recognise

- Provide unprompted questions with other local charity brands to see if they recognise yours alongside the others

- Ask people questions based on types of imagery and messaging they most associate with your brand, to see what type of images and cues your audience would value


Having a good mix of active (people fully engaged with your organisation), passive (people who aren’t too bothered but know who you are) and non-active (people who don’t know who you are) contributing to these conversations can help to get a well-rounded viewpoint.


Perhaps I sound a bit like a management consultant in this post, but it’s important stuff to think about when considering your brand! As we increase our range of posts, they’re always going to get more obscure!! We’ll leave it there for now, but always happy to chat through these ideas wherever you can find me online.


Have a great week!