SOME FINAL CONCLUDING COMMENTS FROM THE RESEARCHER:
The study explored the level of Brand Orientation in the Institute for the Blind as a charity organization where brand orientation was defined as the extent to which an organization regarded itself as a brand with branding forming the basis of all operational activities. Against a background of an increasingly complex and competitive environment in which non-profit organizations such as the Institute must survive these days, the research conducted demonstrates a clear and fundamental need for stronger brand development and orientation in the charity sector than ever before. Hankinson (2000: 217) concludes in her study with some valuable insights as she argues that the central concept of the branding process in the charity sector was considered ‘’to represent a collection of perceptions, more complex than a product brand, more trusted than a corporate brand but only partially understood.’’
The overall objective was to explore the increasing importance of a brand-orientated approach by charity organizations, and what the effect of brand-orientation is on the donor behaviour of a group of young people. This overall objective was broken down into three main objectives. The primary objective was to determine the level of brand orientation implemented by The Institute for the Blind in media texts, specifically an audio-visual television programme. The secondary objective was to verify whether or not young donors are influenced by the strength and efficiency of a charity’s brand identity. The tertiary objective was to identify whether the Institute for the Blind is making the best use of their current ‘brand’ in the media to appeal to a wide range of audiences in different life stages, specifically the younger more brand conscious generation. It was found after the research was conducted and results analysed that the Institute for the Blind is currently not making the best strategic use of its brand, that their branding strategies are not focussed on attracting a younger donor audience and that, for the organization to become a stronger competitor in both the charity and even commercial sector (competing for consumers resources – money, time and attention), it needs to start taking the steps towards becoming a Brand Orientated organization, and most importantly with their brand personality and brand values also conforming to the needs and preferences of the younger generation of potential donors.
A lack of understanding in terms of the concept of branding and of what a brand orientated organization looks like was identified through previous informal interviews and conversations with employees of the Institute. Furthermore, the management and control of the Institute’s ‘brand’ are not as strong and constricted as it should be, thus creating a gap in the entire organization’s desire to operate according to a brand culture. Aaker (1991: 271) suggested that a successful brand should possess name awareness and this is defined as “the ability of a potential buyer to recognize or recall that a brand is a member of a certain product or service category”. In the context of this study though, it was also determined through responses provided by the two groups of young people that a major part of the Institute’s brand, namely it’s logo, does not convey a clear and thorough enough message regarding the purpose and “service category” of what the Institute stands for to be recognized as a powerful charity brand. Ultimately, it became clear that donors are aware of many organizations in this sector, but will ultimately choose to donate money, time and resources only to those charities with a strong, efficient, reliable and credible brand image.
Finally, one can conclude that through this study, the proposition which was formulated at the beginning of the study, namely that the use of a brand-orientated approach in the media by non-profit organizations has an effect on the perceptions and donor behaviour of a younger generation audience, which consequently influences the donor choice processes of these potential donors, can therefore be accepted.