What's in a Name?
A lot, found ChildFund International. To dispel misconceptions and better communicate the global scope of its brand, the 70-year-old organization recently embarked on a brand makeover that has invigorated staff and donors alike.January 2010 By Abny Santicola
The scenario had become all too common for Christian Children's Fund. Mike Pressendo's young son had chosen to sponsor a Cambodian child through the Christian Children's Fund Web site. But when the Cambodian affiliate — called ChildFund Cambodia — sent his sponsor package, it immediately caused confusion for the boy. Why, when he had sponsored a child through Christian Children's Fund, was he now receiving information on the sponsorship from another organization?
The answer was simple, actually. And, luckily, Pressendo, vice president of global marketing and strategic resources at the organization, which is now called ChildFund International, was able to explain it. CCF, at that time, operated programs in more than 30 countries via affiliates like ChildFund Cambodia. In fact, ChildFund Cambodia and ChildFund International, the U.S. affiliate, are ?two of 12 organizations scattered across the globe that are part of the ChildFund Alliance, a partnership of affiliates all with the same mission that operate almost as international chapters of the same organization.
But multiply the confused boy scenario by the number of sponsors coming through the 12 alliance organizations — and take into account that most sponsors don't have the insider knowledge Pressendo has — and the result was brand confusion that often resulted in phone calls and inquiries to the organization to clarify the ?relationships.
"Fortunately, he's in my house, and I was able to explain to him what was going on," Pressendo says. "But how many other people did we do that with who might have thought that we sold their name to some other entity? You know, you called in response to a Christian Children's Fund television spot and chose to sponsor a kid in one of our alliance member countries, and so you [received] materials that were inconsistently branded."
After struggling for years to overcome this confusion, the U.S.-based affiliate organization decided two years ago to change its name from Christian Children's Fund to ChildFund International to better align itself with its alliance.
"The desire was really to build a global brand that represented all of us," says Anne Goddard, president and CEO of ChildFund International.
Name changes and rebrandings aren't new to the organization. ChildFund International originally was founded in 1938 as China's Children Fund with a focus on building orphanages for children left homeless after the Sino-Japanese War. But by the mid- to late-40s, as the organization began helping children in the Philippines, Burma, China, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Borneo, India, Europe, Lebanon, Syria and Palestine, it became clear that the organization had outgrown its name. Keeping with the CCF initials, in 1951 it changed its name to Christian Children's Fund. Soon after, Christian Children's Fund of Canada was formed as CCF's first official international affiliate, followed by affiliates in Africa, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain and Australia.