Want to put the American Red Cross symbol on your Web site? It will probably take a commitment of at least $250,000 in cash, goods or services. And even then, your offer will come under serious scrutiny.
“National sponsorship levels begin at $250,000 [annually] and can increase based on the scope of the marketing communications” that make use of the logo, said Heidi Seifert, director of marketing relationships for the Red Cross. However, “it's an internal guideline, and it doesn't necessarily mean cash,” she said.
In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Red Cross has been inundated with an unprecedented volume of calls from companies looking to partner with the agency. The firms ostensibly want to serve as a conduit for cash, or to donate goods and services or a portion of profits to the relief efforts. Many also want permission to tout their efforts in press releases and on their sites.
And while it is reasonably easy to get permission to put out a press release using the Red Cross name, displaying the logo is another story.
“Our market research continues to reinforce the public's incredible trust in the American Red Cross,” spokeswoman Devorah Goldburg said. “We can't pass out a logo that stands for humanitarian principles to every single company every time a disaster happens.”
Translation: The Red Cross has one heck of a brand that needs to be guarded against dilution, even by those with pure intentions.
“We look for relationships with companies that have a strong business standing and whose brands do not in any way diminish our brand equity,” she said.
So what else does it take to qualify to display arguably the most recognizable logo in the world?
“That those companies demonstrate a clear commitment in helping us provide reach, revenue and continuity in carrying out our mission, which is disaster response,” Goldburg said.
It is also important that a company vying to display the Red Cross logo demonstrate that it recognizes the credibility that a marketing relationship with the American Red Cross offers, she added.
“We are going to look more favorably on opportunities that are one or more years in length,” Goldburg said. “Obviously with this disaster, we made quick relationships with a lot of companies, but not to use our logo.”
The Red Cross also looks for deals that include things like advertising support, sponsorship fees or donations that are consistent with the organization's mission — bottled water or prepaid calling cards, for example.
“We take partnerships on a case-by-case basis, as any company would,” she said.