Rule #4: This isn’t a Masquerade Party

Lose the mask and be authentic


Consider your campaign’s brand

A brand is more than just a name, logo or a marketing tool; it’s “a psychological construct held in the minds of all those aware of the branded product, person, organization, or movement” (Kylander& Stone, 2012). According to the Edelmen Trust Barometer, the main factors for building engagement and integrity into your brand  are treating customers well, putting customers ahead of profit and being transparent (Edelmen, 2013). These factors don’t just apply to a business’s brand, they can apply to social marketing campaigns brand too.


Trust is the Foundation of Successful Communication

The initial trust built between your brand and your audience will go far; however the minute your campaign seems fake or untrue to your core values, you have a problem. This is because trust is the foundation for successful communication(Doney & Cannon, 1997).Ensure that your campaign is built on a solid foundation, and take the time to develop a relationship with your audience built on trust and credibility.

Engaging your audience is essential for building lasting, trusting relationships. For example, communication in the media today about sustainability and climate change has been very doom and gloom, with many examples of greenwashing leading consumers to become very skeptical of “green” claims, or sustainability campaigns (Harris, 2013). 


align your message with your campaign’s core values

Tip#1: Personalize your messages

Design the message in your campaign to talk to your audience, rather than at them. Engage your audience, make it a conversation and show them how they can contribute. Tell them a story of what you are hoping to see in the world as a result of the change you’re asking them to make; give them context and a reason to change (Futerra, 2011). Show them how a simple change can lead to a world of difference.

Futerra, a sustainability communications firm based out of the UK, has developed a document outlining steps to follow when communicating about sustainability, with developing a trusted, credible source being one of those steps (Futerra, 2011). Additionally, Futerra suggests keeping messages personal and ensuring messages are relevant to where they are located, while demonstrating how they can help and how they will contribute to the issue at hand (Futerrra, 2011).

Tip#2: Utilize the IDEA Framework to build your brand

This can be communicated through integrating the main principles of the Nonprofit Brand IDEA into the development of your brand. IDEA (standing for Integrity, Democracy, Ethics and Affinity) is a framework developed by Harvard University’s Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations to help produce a more strategic approach to managing brands with a goal of creating greater social good (Kylander& Stone, 2012). By utilizing the framework, your brand will come to understand the importance of aligning the internal and external identity with your overall mission, trust internal stakeholders to communicate that identity through their work, ensure that the brand reflects core values of the organization, and be willing to work alongside other organizations with similar core values (Kylander & Stone, 2012).


Tip#3: Use your trust and brand power to show individuals how to change behaviour

Let the core values of your organization shine through by building a relationship with your audience. Engage them by painting an image of what you want the world to be, and show them what they can do to make that a reality.



Ex#1: Above the Influence

The DARE program has been used in schools since it’s inception in 1983 to scare kids away from taking drugs. In the early years of the drug education program, DARE informed teenagers that marijuana had “no medicinal value, weakened the immune system and cause(d) insanity and lung disease – claims that were widely disputed”(Lopez, 2014). The problem however, was once teens started use marijuana, or saw their friends use the drug, they realized that it really wasn’t that dangerous.  The DARE campaign lost its credibility by exaggerating the negative effects of certain drugs, which experts say led to its failure to reduce drug use. Instead, the Above the Influence campaign is honest in their message, that marijuana isn’t going to have severe harmful effects(Lopez, 2014). They use a different strategy, trying to make teens see that there are better things to do than sit on a couch and get high.


 So remember: Be authentic

Build your brand, build trust and build a bridge between your organization and your audience to engage them and inspire them to change. By personalizing your messaging, integrating the IDEA framework into your branding and being honest with your audience, your campaign will have more value and validity in the public eye.




Edelmen.(2013). Edelmen trust barometer. Retrieved from

Futerra. (2011). New rules: new game. Futerra sustainability communications. Retrieved Dec 12 2013 from

Harris, R. (2013). Greenwashing: Cleaning up by ‘saving the world’. Marketing.Retrieved Dec 12, 2013 from

Kylander, N., & Stone, C. (2012).The role of brand in the nonprofit sector (SSIR). Retrieved Dec 16, 2013, from 

Lopex, German. (2014). Why anti-drug campaigns like DARE fail. Retrieved from

McKenzie-Mohr, D. P. (2012).Fostering sustainable behavior: an introduction to community-based social marketing. Gabriola, B.C: New Society Publishers.


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