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Learning from Theory to Manage Brands in Small Charities: Lessons from the Small Charity Brand Study

Natasha Roe


Brands and brand management in commercial organisations have been studied for decades. Research has led to highly developed models and practices, with many studies recognising brand management as an important driver of competitive advantage (Aaker, 2010; de Chernatony, 2001). Similar theoretical and practical studies have been carried out amongst SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) (e.g., Krake, 2005) and UK nonprofits (e.g., Frumkin & Kim, 2001) also demonstrating positive connections between brand management and organisational performance. However, the focus of research in UK nonprofits has been on the largest organisations by income, typically the very largest (e.g., Hankinson & Lomax, 2006; Stride & Lee, 2007). By comparison, there are no leading journal published studies into small UK charity brands and brand management. The small charity brand study set out to address this gap in research. One hundred and thirty-seven charities with annual turnovers of £1million or less and a focus group of eight small charity practitioners participated. The study investigated whether small charities are managing their brands and, if so, whether they experienced the performance benefits evidenced in extant research from other sectors. It investigated whether management strategies in small nonprofits made a difference to realising operational advantages. The goal was to develop practical Information, Advice, and Guidance (IAG). The study found that it was necessary to adapt existing models of brand management to make them relevant to small charities and indicated that, when the brand is managed by a team of people across different managerial levels, the longerterm benefits (outcomes) of branding practices are better realised. From participants’ contributions, it was possible to draw up models of branding specific to small nonprofits and identify the IAG required to manage brands across the areas studied; brand benefits, measured in outputs and outcomes.

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small charities; branding, brand management; rebranding; Information; Advice and Guidance (IAG)

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