UK charity gets a hard lesson in brand equity

RSPCA, the leading animal welfare charity in the UK, won a settlement last year against two fox hunters—and its brand is suffering because of it.

The public is unhappy with the charity not because they spoke out against fox hunting, but rather because they reportedly spent £326,000 to obtain a judgment of under £7,000 from the two hunters.

At a time when charitable contributions are on the decline, Brits saw this “political” prosecution as a poor use of funds (among other complaints).  The fallout of this perception for the RSPCA is quite apparent in YouGov’s analysis, which charts the decline of brand buzz, value, attention, and reputation in the aftermath of the trial.

Putting these charts in simple terms, they show a direct causal relationship:

People started hearing more bad news than good about the brand >> less people considered donating to the charity >> people were increasingly likely to be embarrassed, not proud, to work for the organization.

As YouGov notes, RSPCA is already recovering public support as their ongoing good deeds start to cancel out the media furor, but the brand value is still significantly lower than it was in early December.

At TippingGardner, we know how vigilant brands need to be in this age of the 24-hour news/Twitter/blogosphere cycle. It is why we always remind our clients that everything they do, every internal and external communication, affects their brand equity. It is a lesson the RSPCA will not forget anytime soon.


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