One of the most powerful and truly moving non-profit brands that has emerged over the last several years is To Write Love On Her Arms. To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) is devoted to raising awareness about depression, self-wounding and suicide, and connecting those who are struggling with these issues to opportunities to get healing and help. TWLOHA is about starting and fueling movement, its not a place to get help as much as much as it is a place to connect others to help.
From a brand perspective, this organization has successfully connected with their audience on a world-wide level, simply through being creative, keeping it real and telling a powerful story. And their logo is a perfect representation of the brand they have created. From a look and feel perspective, this brand is bold and classic, no frills, nothing trendy that would make it feel dated over the years, but that has popular appeal with the target audience the group seeks to serve.
Never Underestimate the Power of a Well-Designed T-Shirt
The most remarkable operational reality about this organization is that they are predominantly funded by T-Shirt sales. TWLOHA catapulted awareness of their brand because popular musicians wore their T-shirts on stage during shows. Without even knowing what TWLOHA is about, the very audience who needs to be aware of the issues supported by TWLOHA was more than willing to buy the cool T-shirts. Now, the people who struggle most with these issues are connected with a group that can provide information to the hurting and facilitate a safe transition to healing and hope.
In interview with Behind the Brand, TWLOHA founder Jaime Tworkowski shared that there really was not a strategy or intentional effort put forth to partner with bands. He happened to have relationships with some band members in Switchfoot and Anberlin and these friends offered to wear the shirts on their own. The exposure was more than a start-up non-profit could dream of and the interest in merchandise sky-rocketed as more fans saw their favorite bands wearing the shirts and asked where they could get a shirt of their own. This eventually translated into even more bands offering to wear the shirts and inviting Tworkowski to speak at their shows.
Tworkowski also had an advantage in that he previously worked for other stellar youth brands like Hurley and Quicksilver so he went into the start-up knowing the selling power of merchandise featuring awesome logo design. TWLOHA merchandise is now for sale world-wide in multiple venues online and in physical stores.
So, are we advocating that a brand can put all its marketing eggs in one basket with a great T-shirt and friends in bands? Of course not. But you do have to admit that it worked out amazingly well to pair this particular marketing vehicle with band relationships to reach a specific target audience. We are not suggesting that a start-up non-profit try to base their entire funding strategy on t-shirt sales, but taking a look at a group that has found great success in this area is certainly worth understanding and considering as you search for your own marketing inspiration.