Social sector brands: drop the jargon! / by Anne Miltenburg

I am in the middle of a brand thinking course for professionals in the social sector and today NGO-speak came up. Or, if you will, development jargon, academic lingo or bleeding heart bingo. It can dictate the voice of some of the most reputable players in the social sector. 

A real world example, anonymised to protect the well-intentioned.  

"X supports social entrepreneurs who are leading and collaborating with changemakers in a team-of-teams model that addresses the fluidity of a rapidly evolving society."

For real? 

Another issue: overuse of the same old terms. Convention is hard to shake. Empowering communities. Eradicating poverty. Etcetera, etcetera, per diem, etcetera. 

But finding different, new words is not easy.

I don't have name and copy ideas for each and everyone of the 24 people in the class and their incredible range of pretty awesome initiatives -there is a lot of ground to cover and this is just one topic. But I know inspirational examples trigger amazing talent in people. Exposure to good work goes a long way. So I've gathered a list of brands with a social mission who I think totally change the game word-wise (some of these are featured more extensively in our toolkit). They have framed what they do in an entirely unconventional, refreshing way. Either through their name, their copywriting or more extensive content. Simple, original and strong verbal finds, built on insights into the world of their audiences. The results are brands that are totally memorable, relatable and share-able. 

I'm listing one for several staple categories of social impact. 

All Square - rehabilitation and social justice
A play on the American expression of being square, this initiative stole our hearts and set off our  -I wish I had developed that brand- radar. An amazing name and very thoughtfully chosen, articulate copy that details their vision on second chances, recidivism and reparations.

Hollaback - women's empowerment
A movement against harassment, online and on the street. 

Spare Fruit - food waste
Cool yet unassuming brand that makes rescued food top choice. 

SecondShot - homelessness
An East London café bringing people together and tackling homelessness one espresso at a time.

Appetite for Change - health in underserved communities
Clear, strong and relevant: the community of Appetite for Change is tackling the food desert problem and they are doing it their way! Can we sign up to join?

SuperBetter - mental health
Who says mental health issues are best locked away behind grey clouds? SuperBetter reframes the topic on all levels. 

Leanin - women's empowerment
Sheryl Sandberg's positive call to action for women to fulfil their ambition has spun into an entire world of support.

FinanceBar - financial awareness
The FinanceBar makes financial literacy and awareness something to be desired! This mobile hub might be serving underserved communities, but it makes their customers feel like a million bucks. Frugal is the new sexy! 

LoveMatters - sex education
With over a million visitors online per month, multimedia platform Love Matters creates content about love, sex, relationships and everything in between for young people around the world - that young people love to read, share and discuss. 

Applause and respect to all of those taking the time to do justice to their mission with the right words (insert applause). To change the world, maybe we have to change the words.