Identity Politics: Building an Image without Sacrificing an Organization’s Brand - Creating a Foundation for Appropriate and Sustainable Social Marketing

Degree Name

MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

First Advisor

John Vogelsang


Storytelling is an integral part of organizational sustainability. Every character has a stake in how an organization’s story is told and in how successful contributions are to the vitality of that organization. We all have an innate need to distinguish ourselves within whatever realm of the world we function. That distinguishability is a purely instinctive desire we all have to make a mark on the work we do, whether it’s professionally or personally motivated. The concept of branding is not a new one, rather one that has been the driving force behind much of the change in how marketing and public relations fields both promote and maintain their clients. In the nonprofit sector, it is even more important to set ourselves apart as leaders in field work, mostly because the competition for funding is such that it makes a simple thing like a website banner or mission statement seem like the be all and end all of our organizational personality. Building a clear brand identity is one of the most important actions an organization can take, whether an old or new player in the nonprofit sector. This paper explores the idea of branding for organizational sustainability, using a foundation of analysis based on organizational culture, and maneuvering within theories supporting and criticizing branding and social marketing. I will present a case for nonprofit branding using a consistent strategy by creating and maintaining a clear and sustainable organizational identity, and by asking the following questions: How can a small nonprofit use its brand to create a more sustainable organizational culture? And how might the sustainability of a nonprofit be affected by the failure of a branding process?


Critical and Cultural Studies | Organizational Communication | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Sociology of Culture

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