Posted by David Oates 1 year ago


Many organizations can only dream about possessing a brand that is embraced by 230 countries and 1.2 million people in more than 35,000 clubs. I belong to such an organization and witnessed firsthand its ability to be endeared by different cultures and backgrounds.

Rotary binds together folks from all walks of life because of its shared value of humanity with people willing to act in support of it. The service organization comprises itself of individuals wanting to make a difference in the world and share experiences with others who feel the same. It embodies a spirit that transcends borders, politics, economics and ideologies. Many of the Rotary clubs exist in oligarch, communist and socialist-run countries. Its members represent nearly every religion and non-faith beliefs practiced. Yet Rotarians believe they possess more in common with one another than they do differences. 

Through Rotary, people from all continents and cultures come together to exchange ideas, form friendships and build professional connections while making a difference in their backyards and around the world under the motto “Service Above Self.” Its members pour their time, talent and treasures into completing projects that have a lasting impact. Rotarians persevere until they deliver real, sustainable solutions. For more than 110 years, its members have bridged cultures and connected continents to champion peace, fight illiteracy and poverty, promote clean water and sanitation and combat disease.

Many organizations should seek to emulate Rotary’s brand and work hard to embody the same type of loyalty and universal understanding. To do so, they need to practice three edicts:

Make Your Message Powerful, But Simple

Every July, the new President also promulgates an idea for their year that is no more than three words in length. The message is simple in understanding, but powerful in meaning. What’s more, the theme is flexible enough to cater to each Rotary Club’s goals for the year. All organizations need to keep these elements in mind when reviewing their brand promise.

Make Your Value Proposition Relevant

An organization’s capabilities may be impressive, but not valuable if the intended audience doesn’t find them relevant. Make sure your brand promise is one about which stakeholders care.

Make Your Image Not About You

Most organizations think their brand must reflect the company. The only way to do that, some argue, is by talking about it from their perspective. I submit that the opposite is true. Audiences’ ability to embrace a brand comes from seeing it through their eyes. The more the brand is about them and less about the organization, the better its longer-term prospects.

Make Your Call To Action Easy

The more complicated a brand is to engage and endear, the tougher it will be for folks to do so. Keep the call to action easy to do for the intended audience, regardless of their location. 

Organizations can employ this test to evaluate their brand’s ability to endear itself to a global audience. Moreover, this doesn’t have to apply only to nonprofit service groups. Go to a McDonalds in China or a Starbucks in France, and you’ll see a different menu and culturally-sensitive signage then you would find at similar outlets in the US. Yet their messages and value propositions resonate regardless of location and the calls to action understandable. If your brand doesn’t possess the same qualities, it may be time for a strategic initiative.


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