With the current brouhaha over Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s
defunding of breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood, the backlash, the
reversal, and the exposure of the source of the initial decision, it’s obvious
that Planned Parenthood is in a constant storm of contentious political struggle (even if the most recent dust-up was an unplanned branding bonanza).
And, it’s been happening for a long time.
Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, one can easily recognize
that Planned Parenthood is at the center of the abortion debate. To constantly
swim in a turgid sea of conflict has its costs. As business owners we know a
battle like this prevents a 100% focus on the mission and effectiveness of the
institution. What is the mission of Planned Parenthood?
You can see its official mission here. But despite its prominent role in the abortion debate, if you look at the numbers you will see that only 3 percent of Planned
Parenthood’s services are abortion services. The rest of their time goes
towards serving women (largely) who can’t afford medical care including breast
cancer screenings, pap smears, STD testing, sex education, and pregnancy
prevention. Seems like a win-win for our society in general. We recognize that
supporting women’s health is about supporting society in general.
Branding for peace versus
We believe Planned Parenthood is about the health of women. Why
is their name still Planned Parenthood? If the organization has such a range of
services, why are they still being branded by a name that is a relic of the
1960s? Perhaps it’s time to change the name to reflect what the institution is
really all about.
The current name is a lightning rod. Pro-life constituents hear
the name as an affront to their values and beliefs. And they are right. But the
brand is potentially so much more than an affront to opposing factions. While
the nonprofit world is focusing on empowerment of women and girls as the
solution to future poverty, we are shooting ourselves in the foot with the conflict around Planned Parenthood.
So here is our recommendation: Change the name of Planned
Parenthood and make the new name about women’s health. This would be a powerful
transformation that could be embraced by women across the country. It could
relegate abortion to 3 percent of the conversation instead of 100 percent of the
conversation. It would galvanize the organization to become a greater movement
dedicated to the goal of serving women and thereby serving men, family, and
society at large.
This is a simple, authentic branding solution, but one that could
be extremely effective in enhancing the focal point of the conversation,
drawing together versus apart, and creating a more relevant leadership
brand for the 21st century. Planned Parenthood should take a page from the
corporations of the day and actively contribute to the conversation with
marketing and branding acumen. It is this conversation of our day that is getting
play and activating support that is truly needed.
We hope Cecile Richards is listening.
Jody Turner is a future trends strategist who works with
companies, conferences, and organizations in bringing forth thriving and
relevant futures. Turner is CEO and founder of the global insights
group CultureofFuture.com, a trend innovation group working with companies such as BMW, Munich, and is associated with Trendwatching, London. (@cultureoffuture). Coauthor Jerry
Ketel is Culture of Future’s strategist. He is also the
founder/creative director of Leopold Ketel & Partners, a West Coast
branding and innovation firm. His clients and partners have included
Pendleton Whisky, Benchmade Knives, Tillamook Cheese, The Humane
Society, and Microsoft. Join his unedited mind @jerryketel.
[Image: Flickr user David Bledshoe]