All posts tagged: Lancaster Coalition for Peace & Justice

Grassroots organizational branding | grassroots communications tips pt.4

Branding, in the advertising world, is imbuing a company or product with positive associations inside the consumer’s mind.  Marlboro, for example, has so successfully associated cowboys and the wild frontier with their product (cigarettes), that some of their ads don’t even mention the name “Marlboro.”  They don’t need to, because the product comes to mind automatically at the sight of the now-famous cowboy image.

In the late 1990s Rainforest Action Network (RAN) carried out some very effective negative branding campaigns, which many powerful people took notice of.  RAN realized that a positive brand is one of the most important assets of a corporation.  A tarnished brand can repel consumers and scare away investors, as Home Depot learned the hard way.  RAN effectively painted Home Depot as a reckless destroyer of old growth forests and rainforests, until the company committed to discontinue using old growth forests for lumber.  (A few other companies followed, like dominoes, just at the threat of a possible RAN campaign against their brand name.)

It was around then that I got to thinking about the brands of the social justice organizations I worked with.  A brand is essentially the memories and associations that tend to come to mind in the popular imagination at the mention of your name.  In this sense, individuals can even have “brands” (though we usually call this a reputation).  What associations were coming to mind at the mention of different social change organizations?  What about at the mention of broader labels such as activism, environmentalism, feminism, socialism, the peace movement, etc.?  If a tarnished brand hurt a corporation’s ability to move product or attract investors, perhaps our tarnished brands were part of the reason so many social change groups were having such a difficult time attracting more participants.

Activating Popular Participation | Building a Successful Antiwar Movement (Role3: Facilitation)

This is the fourth and final installment in a series written by Jonathan Matthew Smucker in collaboration with Madeline Gardner, originally published in 2007.  Click here to read the previous essay, Articulating a Strategy

Kinetic and Potential

There is a tendency among people active in social movements (like the antiwar movement) to look at ourselves and think that this is it, that we are the whole of the movement, that we know all the players. When we think we know all the players, as well as how to talk to them/ourselves, then we can become lax on communicating with a broader public. This limits efforts to recruit, activate, or make alliances with, additional players. If we think about the antiwar movement only in terms of its kinetic energy (i.e. that which is already in motion) we will look around at the actors currently on the stage and think that it is up to us alone to end the war and prevent future wars of aggression. This would require magic. We can- not realize our vision of peace and justice with only our current numbers mobilized. We must build a far larger movement. We have to activate potential energy.