United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Issues Brand RFP

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United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has issued an RFP for Brand Measurement and Strategy Services.


UNHCR is a global organisation dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people. UNHCR operates in 128 countries and leads international action to protect people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. It delivers life-saving assistance like shelter, food and water. UNHCR helps safeguard fundamental human rights and develop solutions that ensure people have a safe place to call home where they can build a better future. UNHCR also works to ensure that stateless people are granted a nationality.

In 2017, UNHCR needs USD 6.7 billion for its global work. This amount is set to grow due to conflicts fuelling global displacement. The organisation is almost entirely funded by voluntary contributions from governments and private donors. While the resources available from donors to assist people in need are increasing globally, these trends not keeping up with the increasing demands. Underfunding has meant in protracted crises the response has had to be prioritized to the absolute minimum of urgent life-saving interventions.

Global refugee situation

Forced displacement, most of it arising from war and conflict, has risen sharply in the past decade, largely a result of the Syria crisis, but also due to a proliferation of new displacement situations and unresolved old ones. Some 65.3 million people are today forcibly displaced, of which 21.3 million are refugees who have been forced to flee across international borders, and the rest are people displaced within their own countries.

Statement of Purpose & Objectives

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) invites agencies to submit proposals to conduct brand research and provide strategic advice to strengthen UNHCR’s brand. UNHCR is seeking to enter into a Frame Agreement contract with Agencies specialized in brand research and brand strategy comprehensively for three (3) years with a possible extension for one plus  one (1+1) year, tentatively from June 2017. They will be requested to perform brand equity surveys and execute brand measurement and strategy projects as necessary.

UNHCR’s brand

UNHCR has invested heavily in brand research, brand strategy and media monitoring in  order to raise awareness of and familiarity with UNHCR’s work and mobilise public and private sector support for the refugee cause. These insights are used to ensure communication is strategic and to boost income and public engagement. Research and production of the UNHCR Brand Book in 2015 articulated UNHCR’s brand identity and offered a core message framework to ensure staff talks about UNHCR in a clear and consistent way. Three key attributes were identified to have the most impact on support towards UNHCR. These reflect the essence of the brand, showing that UNHCR (1) gets things done, (2) makes a difference in people’s lives and (3) can be trusted.

As part of strategic communications work, global KPIs3 and research recommendations have been developed to track the impact of communication among key audiences towards building UNHCR’s brand.

Brand research

Research is conducted every year to benchmark and track UNHCR’s brand equity in key fundraising markets against peer organisations and track progress over time; to identify drivers of support towards the organisation and the refugee cause. Results inform  messaging, fundraising, public engagement strategy and donation income projections. Agencies need to demonstrate experience conducting opinion surveys with a focus on measuring attitudes towards brands and causes, understanding shifting cultural context and resulting public sentiment.

The agency/agencies will provide UNHCR with support at either a global level or per regional or country office. Their expertise should be global but we will consider agencies that are geographically specialized, for geographically relevant projects.

The research will help UNHCR to:

  1. Understand public perception of UNHCR and the refugee cause across markets Specifically:
    1. Public perception of UNHCR in relation to other not for profit organizations at global and national level among a representative sample of the population in each market
    2. Public perception of refugees at global and national level, including demographic analysis on: gender, age, education, ethnicity/origin, children per household, community type (urban vs rural), voter turnout, income and geographic region.
    3. Organisational characteristics that drive people to support charities; assess interest, values and issues they engage with
    4. Public sentiment around the word ‘refugee’.
    5. Awareness and perception of key UNHCR campaigns including Nobody Left Outside (shelter thematic campaign) and UNHCR’s emergency work should be included.
  2. Track trends and changes in public perception over time where data is available

Track changes in public perception of UNHCR and refugees since 2014 globally and at national level.

  1. Identify differences, similarities and bright spots for reapplication
    1. Gain insight into internal and external drivers of shifts in public perception globally  and at national levels. In particular:
    2. Nobody Left Outside campaign (thematic campaign on Shelter or other themes in future years
    3. Emergencies (where UNHCR provides help)
  2. Understand UNHCR brand positioning in new / emerging PSP markets: Understand the perception of UNHCR in new or emerging markets, where there is not yet a private sector partnerships presence and identify opportunities for UNHCR to achieve differentiation in these markets.

Brand Measurement


  • Proven track record working on brand measurement for both corporate and Not for Profit clients (global and local).


  • Expertise in research design and analysing data for actionable insights.
  • Offer in-house statistical analysis
  • Ability to perform statistical driver analysis and establish links between brand and fundraising income and/or public engagement metrics.
  • Ability to update existing questionnaires to ensure relevance while maintaining comparability with previous data sets.
  • Ability to provide demographic analysis on a market-specific basis, including media and donation habits.
  • Experience in measuring and understanding public sentiment and attitudes towards a brand, organisation or cause.


  • Demonstrable experience in translating research findings into recommendations for action, with a view to building brand awareness, public engagement and generating financial support.

Brand Strategy


  • Message development and testing linked to survey data
  • Analysing and advising on brand identity


Near global presence; offices in particular in Australia, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, Sweden, Spain, Germany, Italy, UK, France, Netherlands, US, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Lebanon, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait.

Companies with expertise in a specific geographical area are encouraged to apply.

Primary research

  1. Conduct primary quantitative research in all participating markets among a representative sample of the population.
  • The agency is expected to update, complement and translate (where necessary – group 2014 translations are available) all questionnaires and build in time for UNHCR’s in-house review of the translations by each participating market. Different names of UNHCR (including the UN Refugee Agency and foreign translations) should be accounted for.
  1. Identify changes in public perception of UNHCR and the refugee cause since previous measurement (Tracking surveys only).
  • UNHCR will supply data for trending
  1. Establish baseline figures for additional markets as specified by UNHCR (Benchmarking surveys only).

Proposal due by April 20th, 2017 to:

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Case Postale 2500
CH-1211 Genève 2 Dépôt, Suisse

Leading PR firms for a campaign like this include APCO Worldwide & Burson-Marsteller.

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