unit 2.4: major project proposal (final)

by raymanookian


Can non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and charities adopt branding tools used by corporates in commercial advertising to increase their own funding and public visibility?


How, if at all, will such branding tools need to change to enable charities and NGOs to achieve this end? (For example, will the tools need complete re-engineering or suffice with little alteration?)


  • Set a benchmark of successful corporate branding strategies.
  • Single out a list of qualifying charities and NGOs that will be mutually contrasting (i.e. whose fields will be sufficiently differentiated) to form the project test group.
  • Collect a representative series of printed media (material) — posters, banners, ads, and so on — for each organisation in the group.
  • Document, examine and evaluate the visual language and messaging in their material.
  • Classify the findings to build a comprehensive visual data bank.
  • Examine the data bank to extract theoretical correlations, rules, principles and so on that might be used to help build a practical campaign for a typical charity
  • or NGO.
  • Determine whether processing information in this way can lead to universal application in graphic design and branding.


  • Set criteria that identity which charities and NGOs merit inclusion, capturing, for example, largest global and national (UK) charities and NGOs and a broad cross-section of charities and NGOs globally and nationally.
  • Subscribe to relevant archiving websites to capture the largest volume of material.
  • Source relevant repositories of information, for example indexing systems, that rate or rank the qualifying charities and NGOs, establish who the leaders in their field are, etc.
  • Develop and apply a method of deconstruction for the material that breaks down the material’s visual language and messaging specifically using semiotic and visual theory.
  • Build a website that can collate the findings of the deconstruction, and search, compare and categorise specific criteria for further research.
  • Based on the research, see if a practical, real-world campaign can be developed for and feasibly applied to at least one if not more of the charities and NGOs under examination.
  • At every stage of the project, write a report that documents all processes, outcomes, directions and findings.
  • Collect all reports and use them to form an overall thesis whose chapters and structure will be informed by the critical reflection contained in each and whose findings are conducive to
  • replication in both academic
  • and professional contexts.


  • NGOs and charities
  • Graphic and designers, branding specialists
  • Visual researchers


Area of study

In the context of design theory as it relates to identity, audience and society, specifically look at the nature of commercial branding and advertising strategies to determine whether the methods and ethics of the commercial environment in which they work can be applied to charities and NGOs and learn what degree of change if at all they will have to undergo in a charitable and non-governmental context.

Survey and review

Based on the overall collected material produced by the charities and NGOs between 2000 and 2010, critically show how close the material produced by each charity and NGO is to its own published or incorporated ethos and values, and assess whether commercial branding practices can be applied (and if so what degree of change they will have to undergo) to enhance its messaging in ways that will be conducive to increasing that charity’s or NGO’s funding and public visibility.

The bulk of the overall collected material produced by the charities and NGOs was sourced and pulled together in Unit 2.3 from two fairly comprehensive online resources. These two sources will be used to generate a foundation of material for all current and future analysis. These two online resources can be found at the following URLs:



It is worth pointing out that no one website alone — specifically no creative advertising archive in this case — can be relied upon as a single and complete source of information on all things marketing or advertising for any one charity or NGO. Such archives are not mandated to publish the criteria by which they select and store advertising examples nor are they mandated to commit specific or guaranteed quotas of material. That said, many charities and NGOs themselves do not keep comprehensive or complete indices of their own material.

In terms of print media, neither of the creative advertising archives listed above will have exhaustive catalogues of example material, but they do hold enough differentiated resource material to warrant a thorough investigation as set out in this major project proposal.

All literature used for this project comes from research that began in Unit 2.3., and the scope of such research has expanded to include more content that is also more diverse and more detailed. This revised literature is what forms the basis of current or ongoing investigation. The literature also consists of material generated from the qualified recommendations of tutors, peers and professional colleagues.

Action plan

To ensure that a sufficiently thorough, documented and logical approach is taken to achieve the objectives set out above within a specified time frame, the information below details what actions will need to be taken to:

Set general advertising precepts based on established theories.

Determine which organisations (charities and NGOs) will form the test group for study.

Build a repository of representative visual collateral for qualifying charities and NGOs.

Gain industry data through specific targets and channels of examination.

Set up a test campaign based on findings.

Establish accurate written records of all stages in the process.

Specifically, the action plan will consist of the following.

Setting the scene

Begin literary research to gain an extensive understanding and in-depth knowledge of the two main areas of interest in this project and to write up any and all resulting findings, namely:

Branding theory and strategies.

Semiotics and visual theory.

Write up all findings in a report.

Singling out a list of charities and NGOs

It will be essential to establish which charities and NGOs qualify or merit study. To this end, it will be necessary to:

Establish selection criteria to form the test group.

Determine which charities and NGOs will qualify.

Write up rationales and all findings in a report.

Building a visual databank

Storing visual information and rendering it accessible will be critical to classifying trends and drawing out or eliciting correlations between them. It will be necessary to:

Establish which advertising and/or print collateral qualify.

Subscribe to online resources.

Source relevant material.

Survey the material compiled.

Establish a method of coding and categorisation.

Map the material effectively.

Generate a qualitative and quantitive assessment of material.

Build and populate a website with source material.

Apply coding and categorisation to the site based on findings.

Write up rationales and all findings in a report.

Gaining industry insight and data gathering

Interacting both with the advertising industry and with the charitable/non-governmental sector will enable theories and conclusions drawn to be tested and verified in context. To do this, it will be important to:

Access relevant indexing systems (Interbrand, BrandZ100, etc.).

Interview brand strategists and marketing directors from the commercial world.

Build an understanding of what does and doesn’t deliver a successful brand identity and strategy based on the interviews.

Interview members of the charities and NGOs via face-to-face, emailed questionnaire or online surveys.

Gain an understanding of their principles and ideology in relation to marketing and branding.

Write up rationales and all findings in a report.

Creating a mini-project: campaign

Theoretical verification means nothing if it can’t be applied in the real world. This presents an opportunity to see if a bona fide campaign can not only be built for real-world charities or NGOs but used by them with their approval. To make this happen, it will be necessary to:

Review material from literary research, the data bank and industry interviews.

Build a written campaign brief for at least one, if not more, of the charity or NGO under examination.

Put into practice all knowledge gained to output a poster campaign that tests the research question.

Send the output to the relevant charities or NGOs for verification, seeing whether they would approve of the execution, messaging and findings, and whether they would use the campaign themselves.

Write up rationales and findings in a report.

Creating an overall report and thesis

It is important to be able to see the whole picture, to learn about what universal or overarching discoveries or claims can be made, if at all, in the context of the overall research question. To do this, it will be essential to:

Compile visual experiments and research developed at every stage of the brief.

Produce a detailed visual summary of this.

Review various reports compiled throughout the entire process.

Include the success or failure of each campaign stage in a report.

Use all reports to construct the framework of a thesis fthat will be of academic interest but that might also have commercial or industry application.

Write the thesis.


The project outlined in this paper is scheduled for completion between February and November 2011. These ten months have been broken down into eight discrete segments. The segments allocate time to complete the literary research, the confirmation of participating charities and NGOs, the method of deconstruction, the building of the data bank, the gathering of industry data, the creation of a campaign, the creation of an overall report and thesis, all printing and the collation of backup material.

Conducting literary research

February through to June 2011

All literary research will be sourced, analysed and documented in a report.

Confirming participating charities and NGOs

February through to March 2011

A list of charities and NGOs will be singled out to form the project test group and the rationale for their inclusion will be documented.

Developing the method of deconstruction and developing online data bank

March through to October 2011

Information repositories (for example indexing systems) that rate or rank the qualifying organisations, establish who the leaders in their field are, etc. will be sourced during this period. A method of deconstructing the material will be developed and applied, breaking down visual language and messaging according to specific semiotic and visual theories. A website that can collate the findings of the deconstruction, and search, compare and categorise specific criteria for further research will also be built. All of this info will be documented in a report.

Conducting industry data gathering

March through to August 2011

A lot of the information gathered during this period, in particular interviews and contact with the qualifying charities and NGOs, will depend on widows of opportunity established by the organisations themselves and the availability of contacts. All attempts to communicate and/or liaise with these charities and NGOs will be documented in a report along with all other findings.

Creating a mini-project: campaign

June through to August 2011

During these three months, the creation of a mini-campaign based on the findings of the project will take place. It is worth pointing out, that the verification of any produced campaign material will be at the discretion of the charities and/or NGOs involved. Irrespective of such verification, all campaign material produced, including its development, will be documented in a report.

Creating an overall report and thesis

July through to October 2011

It is expected that all documentation produced up to and including this point will contribute to an overarching thesis, whatever the results or findings. To this end, the thesis will be of academic interest. But it will also be important to establish whether such a thesis can translate into a commercial or industry setting with applications in the graphic design, marketing and advertising world in general.

Printing and collating backup material

October 2011

All printing is scheduled for the beginning of the month and will be due and the end of the month.

All miscellaneous, non-essential and/or supporting material generated throughout the course of the ten months will be collated, categorised and indexed for future reference.


Primary literary resource

Adamson, A (2006) Brand Simple, Palgrave Macmillan

Olins, W (2003) On B®and, Thames & Hudson

Olins, W (2008) Brand Book, Thames & Hudson

Pricken, M (2010) Creative Strategies: Idea Management for Marketing, Advertising, Media and Design, Thames & Hudson

Williamson, J (2002), Decoding Advertising, Marion Boyars

McQuiston, L (1995) Graphic Agitation: Social and Political Graphics Since the Sixties, Phaidon Press Ltd

Hall, S (2007), This Means This, This Means That: A User’s Guide to Semiotics, Laurence King

Crow, D (2007), Visible Signs: An Introduction to Semiotics, AVA Publishing

Rose, G (2006), Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials: An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Methods (second addition), Sage Publications Ltd

van der Velden, D and Kruk, V, (2009), Uncorporate Identity, Lars Muller Publishers

McLuhan, M, (2001), Understanding Media (second addition), Routledge

Barthes, R (2009), Mythologies, Vintage Classics

Secondary and reference literary resource

Ambrose, G and Harris P, (2007),

The Fundamentals of Creative Design, AVA Publishing

Burtenshaw, K and Mahon, N, and Barfoot, C (2006), The Fundamentals of Creative Advertising, AVA Publishing

Ambrose, G and Harris P, (2008), The Fundamentals of Graphic Design, AVA Publishing

Davis, M, (2009), The Fundamentals of Branding, AVA Publishing

Best, K (2009), The Fundamentals of Design Management, AVA Publishing

Noble, I and Bestley, R (2002), Up against the Wall: International Poster Design, Rotovision

Noble, I and Bestley, R (2007), Visual Research: An Introduction to Research Methodologies in Graphic Design, Rotovision