Brand Reboot Enables Brighton Marine to Better Serve Its Clients
By Bob Notch
For more than a generation, Brighton Marine was a silent and trusted partner of the veteran community, helping those who served our country with health care, counseling, and a connection to services and workshops whatever we could do to make life a bit easier for veterans and their families.
We were focused on providing care for veterans, but recognized that while our neighbors, partners, and long-term clients knew us, few others did. We realized this lack of attention to our identity would ultimately have an adverse effect on our mission because veterans simply wouldnt know about us.
So, we took action to activate our support base. Here are some lessons we learned that other nonprofits may find useful:
Establish a Mission Your Audience Can Relate to and Activate Around
We saw the growing need for veterans services to converge in one place because there was no one central location for veterans to turn to. In Massachusetts alone, there are 210 organizations that provide unique resources and services to veterans. Multiply that by all 50 states and you get the idea of how this disconnect create an alphabet-soup of well-intentioned entities that mostly confuse and frustrate those who need help. Brighton Marine made it its mission to become that central hub, that veteran network community for veterans and their families in the Greater Boston area.
For decades, we were the Brighton Marine Health Center because our roots were in providing health care to veterans. But as our mission evolved, we never changed or altered the name to more accurately reflect what we do. Having "Health Care" at the end of our name was confusing for those we were trying to help, especially if they were not seeking health care-related services. If a veteran needed housing or help with finding a job, would he/she turn to an entity with a name like ours? Probably not, even though those are some of the very services we provide. The attachment to our legacy was holding us back. And so was our brand, or lack thereof, which brings us to the next point.
Its a bold and courageous step to admit what youre doing isnt working. We started by taking an internal look at ourselves, asking our constituents and key principals what they thought of Brighton Marine and the services we provide: what were we known for? What did they think of our reputation? What are the key challenges for growth? What are the key opportunities? What were the positive and negative perceptions of the organization? This exercise helped us better refine the description of what we do, who we do it for, how we deliver our services, and how we get it done.
To do this, your audience needs to really understand what it is youre doing. What is your nonprofit all about? Who is it designed to help? How does it help? What kind of assistance might it need to continue its mission? To convey all of this means good storytelling and enabling people within your organization to craft a compelling narrative.
Integrated marketing is the most effective way to reach your target audience. A 360-degree approach to connecting your mission with your audience should include the utilization of online channels (internal and external), video, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and earned media so many options to connect with stakeholders and influencers. These have come in handy as we ramped up our involvement in and sponsorship of veterans-related activities, like the Thank-a-Veteran program and the first-ever Veterans Town Hall in Boston. Any media hits we receive are shared on multiple channels, as are the videos weve created. Weve entered the 21st century.