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Blue, Bitter, Burdensome? Developing an Identity and Brand for Tuberculosis


By: Daniela Mohaupt, Stop TB Partnership Secretariat

There were 1.4 million reasons last year why global Tuberculosis (TB) advocacy needs a ‘refresh’. This human toll of this curable disease seems out of proportion to the attention and funding put into fighting the spread of this disease. There is a “global TB attention deficit” that limits the ability to close the funding gap of roughly four billion USD per year which is needed (e.g., in the areas of country-level implementation and research and development) to finance the Global Plan to Stop TB 2011–2015.

Ultimately, obtaining a world free of TB requires the cooperation, coordination and ‘dynamization’ of the Partnership’s greatest resource: its partners around the world. It was felt that new momentum is needed to transform the global TB conversation and to close the funding gap. Both the TB community and global health advocates recognize that corporations are valuable allies to tap into for acquiring corporate skills and competencies in order to influence and shape the way the world talks about TB. A core group of the Partnership’s corporate champions initiated a private sector-led process to professionalize the way we advocate for TB. A think tank was convened that brought together private sector communications and public relations experts with TB, malaria and HIV advocacy veterans. Skill sets were combined to join corporate professionals’ knowledge of process management for communications campaigns and strategies with key global health advocates’ experience and expertise from academia at Harvard. Representatives from the Stop TB Partnership Secretariat and World Health Organization were among the 30 participants.

Through a professional lens, and with a private sector driven approach, the need for TB to have a stronger brand was identified. In fact, TB needs an “identity” that creates an emotional connection with people and conveys a sense of urgency. This is not the same as the Stop TB Partnership brand, but separate and distinct. A strong TB brand will differentiate this disease (and the solutions to prevent its spread) from other diseases and efforts. It will enable TB advocates to take a common approach to talking about the disease and provide synergy across the various campaigns.

A strong brand has unique aspects and emotional characteristics that make the brand different and has ways of communicating this brand to help achieve future goals. The best brands are appealing to the general public, simplify the problem to aid understanding and awareness, create a memorable icon (such as the LiveStrong bracelets) and are durable (such as the World Wildlife Fund).

In defining a brand for TB, this private sector think tank organized their discussions by identifying words, phrases or emotions which are relevant in building a TB brand, particularly in the following thematic areas: the emotional aspects of TB; the functional aspects of TB, target audiences; core proposition for solving the problem; and brand personality.

Branding ‘TB’ is a novel concept for the TB community, but holds the promise of bringing TB into the limelight, where it belongs. Both the TB community and global health advocates recognize that corporations are valuable allies and that we need to tap into corporate skills and competencies in order to influence and shape the way the world talks about TB.

The Stop TB Partnership – operating through a secretariat hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva – unites nearly 1000 partners as a collective force that is transforming the fight against TB. It is recognized as a unique international body with the power to align actors all over the world in the fight against TB – these include international and technical organizations, government programs, research and funding agencies, foundations, NGOs, civil society and community groups as well as the private sector.

If you like to inform yourself of this refreshing corporate approach, please visit: http://www.stoptb.org/getinvolved/psc/ or contact Daniela Mohaupt, Private Sector & Corporate Relations Officer, Stop TB Partnership Secretariat.