18 April 2006

Branding in public services: waste of money? [Business Week]

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Branding public services
Yes, governments and public services are getting up to speed with branding. They have seen that it works for business. They understand that their clientele—citizens—live in a branded world. It would be strange if governments didn’t move with the times. Ignoring branding would be like rejecting the Internet, mobile phones, and globalization.

Or would it? While public bodies have a mandate to work on behalf of “the people,” they have to be responsible with their finances too, demonstrating prudence with the public purse. So can investments in branding programs be justified, or is the public sector merely following a marketing fad? Indeed, is branding even appropriate for public services?

Josef Jurkovic, a partner and director of the Centre for Excellence in Communications in Ottawa, Canada, sees a big difference between branded information campaigns and branding programs for entire departments, agencies and the like.

“The more targeted the audience of a brand, the more chance it has of working. Departments and ministries should stick to simple, basic brands that act as umbrellas for more much stronger sub-brands. Public sector branding is about strong sub-brands. You focus your branding where you have defined audiences.”

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