Nonprofit leaders: if you haven’t yet, download the 2015 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report — it’s chock full of perceptions and opinions of people just like you. They’ve also created this wonderful infographic overview for us to enjoy.
Branding is finally picking up steam in the nonprofit world. The 2015 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report lists “Raising brand awareness” as one of the top three communications goals of nonprofit leaders, right behind “Engaging community” and “Retaining existing donors.” Nonprofits who don’t pay attention to their brand are going to get left behind. A strong brand can help nonprofits achieve all their goals much more efficiently. As an investment, spending more on brand building earlier is ultimately cost-effective over time. Here’s my quick take on why nonprofit organizations should grow their brand.
1. Develop clear, consistent communications.
Defining brand requires your team to look closely at who you are and what you are saying, and to commit to being consistent with all your communications. Not only will this present a clear picture of your organization to anyone your staff and Board come into contact with, but the message will always be the same. That’s how you begin to build a strong brand which will….
2. Win more eyeballs and help people remember you.
A solid brand strategy that is also well-executed enables communications that look great and are guaranteed to win hearts as well as minds. Strive to be unforgettable so that you can…
3. Raise more money and increase engagement.
Community engagement and increasing donorship are tops on the list for nonprofits. The more trust a person feels in a brand, the more likely they will engage and give. And of course this will enable you to…
4. Make a bigger impact.
Yup, you get it—everything builds on the last thing. The bigger brand share you’ve got… the more donors / volunteers / partners / constituents / recruits you have… the more money you raise… all these add up to be able to doing the work your mission calls for! And things begin to get easier, which inevitably enables you to…
5. Achieve long-term savings.
Here’s one thing I know from my experience doing this work over the last 20 years: when you do things correctly from the beginning, it pays off as time goes on. So if you make the investment into building a strategy, defining the brand, creating a corporate identity and design system, and developing a messaging strategy now, you will need to spend less later because the work is done, you’ve built your foundation. Whomever is running the next initiative has lots to use and build upon, saving time and money.
Over the years, there are some basic things I have come to believe about branding:
A brand is an authentic reflection of the company or product it’s representing. A good brand positions your best qualities. It shows the true beauty inside, it’s not just makeup on top.
A strong brand is built by consistent execution of a strategy over time. This doesn’t necessarily require additional effort, it just requires focused effort.
It doesn’t cost more to strengthen your brand. In fact, it costs less. A consistently executed brand creates efficiency, it makes decisions easier for your organization because they are all coming from a central strategy. It’s your marketing effort that will direct your dollars.
Every company or organization needs a brand. I’m not just saying this to get more biz. A company or nonprofit doesn’t have to be a certain size in order to have a brand. My little company of two has a well-defined brand that we follow. However…
A company needs to know itself before a strong brand can be expressed. CEOs, if you haven’t done some soul-searching on your mission, vision, audiences, corporate culture, and goals for the future — that is, if you don’t really know what your company is all about — you are probably not ready for a brand. That said, a branding workshop can help you get there more quickly by raising all the questions you can’t answer.
While working on an update to my portfolio and this website, I happened to go back and count how many logos I’ve designed over the years. Just to remind myself where I’ve been, I guess. (The number is somewhere around 60.) A bunch were created from scratch for newly branded companies, but most were redos of existing logos.
It’s always a thrill to try to distill the ambitions of an enterprise into a tiny piece of art that will represent them wherever they go. And redesigning an existing brand has its own special set of challenges.
Of course, when some things are easy, others are hard:
Some individuals inside and outside the company may be very attached to the existing brand, possibly creating roadblocks.
Once the new brand is done, it can be difficult to get everyone on board with making the switch and using it correctly.
Along the same vein, it can be difficult to get some team members on board to see the brand in a new way, especially during concept development.
A rebrand requires a total re-do of all of the company’s collateral with the new look and feel, and the new approach to the copy.
There is a bit of work required with thoughtfully rolling out a new logo and identity to your audiences to help them with the transition.
Of course, the company’s leadership needs to decide whether the benefits of a fresh brand outweigh the challenges that lie ahead for their team (usually “Yes!”). We do the heavy lifting to make the process seamless, enjoyable even. Click here for examples of brands we’ve face-lifted.