Should charities consider brand extensions to help boost revenue?

Children in Need has added a second brand mascot, Blush Bear, to sit alongside Pudsey Bear, begging the question as to whether other charities could benefit by following suit


Lynda Thomas, director of external affairs, Macmillan Cancer Support

Anything that helps a charity raise money must be a good thing, and there's no doubt that brand extensions can play a big part in this. They are particularly successful when truly integrated with the charity's brand,
and symbolic of the cause. This is why Pudsey Bear works for Children in Need.

Like most charities, we have a range of licensed products, which we use to generate income. However, we prob­ably wouldn't ever consider going as
far as adopting a mascot. With an icon that personifies our core values as accurately and emotively as the Macmillan Nurse, it would be a brave, and potentially foolish, person who made that move.

Charities, particularly those with a strong services brand, need to weigh
up the fundraising opportunities that brand extensions bring against the risk of introducing products that detract from the understanding and clarity of what they offer.


Guy North, executive director of marketing, Victim Support

Charities should consider brand exten­sions only if their core brand already enjoys a high level of public awareness and understanding. This is likely to be the result of sustained marketing activity over a long period of time, so that the target audience is familiar with what the charity is raising money for.

Without this, launching a brand extension for a charity could risk diluting its core message and confusing audiences about its real purpose - which, in turn, could lead those audi­ences to donate their money elsewhere.

Children in Need is in the enviable position of enjoying such a high level of public awareness and understanding that considering brand extensions would make sense. In contrast, at Victim Support, our priority is to build the profile of the core brand so that our target audiences understand who we are and what we do.

Not until we reap the rewards from this strategy could we even begin to consider brand extensions.


Phil Thomas, managing director, The Gate

Children in Need is very different from most charities. It's a well-known brand with a huge TV event, and all the attention and resources that this commands. If any charity can afford
to make this sort of move, it can.

However, for most charities, the emphasis should be on strengthening their central brand before think­ing about launching brand extensions. Despite increasingly aggressive direct marketing and fundraising tech­niques, responses are still in decline.

Because of this focus on fundraising, many charities have a way to go to catch up with their competitors with stronger brands. The focus needs to shift - rev­enues, direct mail response and other fundraising measures will improve when consumers and potential donors better understand charities' core brands. Maybe at that point, brand extensions would be a better idea.

This is a great idea for a charity such as Children in Need, which has a strong brand. Most, however, don't have the traction or central brand strength to afford such a tactic.


Martin Nieri, managing director, CMW

Introducing another element to a brand in this way is a good idea, provided it is done intelligently.

More charities are starting to think like big brands and offer customers brand extensions with true appeal, such as Breakthrough Breast Cancer's ‘Fashion Targets Breast Cancer' campaign. The charity asked retailers to commission and create products for the campaign and give 30% of the profits to the charity. The resulting fashion products open Breakthrough up to people who wouldn't normally buy a ‘charity' T-shirt.

It's simply a case of giving consumers what they want. If a charity can provide a product or service that fits into consumers' lives or fulfils a need, it
will succeed.

If Children in Need gets it right - and I hope it does - it will be a beneficial way of developing and evolving its brand.



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