Lessons From a Brand Meltdown

The article continues:

… A lot of people have been writing that Komen didn’t have a communications strategy and that was their problem. Well that was one problem. Others include a complete lack of understanding of the Internet, how news spreads during a news cycle, and the temperature of progressive activists after a lot of backsliding on this issue specifically, and more generally with things learned from the ACORN fight. But the biggest issue is they completely changed their mission without even realizing it.

The mission departure

NFL and Komen For The Cure

Komen For The Cure found innovative methods to extend awareness of their brand in a positive way... until this week's game-changing fumble.

There has been plenty of controversy from Komen to date ranging from accusations they are denying links to cancer because of donations they receive to suing smaller organizations for using “for the cure” in their marketing. But they’ve weathered it because they’ve remained focused on what is and should be a completely non-partisan cause – preventing, treating and curing breast cancer. They’ve attracted women and men of all political stripes and backgrounds to their cause. It was a safe place for corporations to support the cause. Komen’s board thought they were simply cutting off a grant, for what many believe to be ideological reasons driven by Karen Handel, but what they were really doing is changing their entire mission. By taking a side in the abortion debate they essentially decided: we only want to work with men and women on the anti-abortion side of the debate, cutting off at least 50% if not more of their support.

… The lesson for nonprofits here is you have to always bring strategic decisions back to your mission and your supporters. How would they perceive it? Mission statements aren’t something top of mind every day and they usually aren’t something we can rattle off in an elevator. But that’s why they exist, to guide you as things like this come up. ….

What’s the lesson for the National Geographic Society? Here’s our mission statement:

To inspire people to care about the planet.

But here’s what our “supporters” are seeing every day on television:

National Geographic hasn’t experienced a Komen-esque brand implosion yet. But we fear that our Society is gradually losing its brand halo as our mission gets hopelessly muddled:

John Fahey National Geographic

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