Our new fintech client, LiquidX, Inc., kept us very busy through December and January. Before the holidays hit, we switched to high gear in order to pull together a logo and corporate identity — delivering business cards to the client in two weeks. While this is never our favorite way to work, they were great decision-makers, and the process went very smoothly. I’m tickled by how the logo turned out.
We moved on to designing their website in January, completing the launch on February 8. Many thanks to our wonderful web development partners at Shero Designs on their professionalism in our tight turnaround. They were able to figure out a tricky home page slider that utilizes video with layered text and still images.
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.
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.
Between the core values and the personality we’ve defined for your brand, we usually have an idea of the general direction the creative needs to go. In the case of Green Jay below, we knew we wanted to do something very specific — utilize a bird, which reflected the company name as well as the concept of “ecological landscaping” from the brand frame. We offered one option that diverged from this idea, if only to show that our concept was the right direction. And we wanted to use green to reflect the sustainability value of the company. Anything else felt “off-brand.” In the case below, we nailed the logo on the first round and were able to complete the identity design very quickly.
First Round of Logo Concepts for Green Jay Landscaping
How does the design process work? I usually start by writing down keywords that must be incorporated into the design. They will reflect the brand frame, of course, but go a little beyond so they are more aspirational. I will also do some visual research at this point, to get inspiration from images across the Internet (see our post about Niice.com). And then I play around with the typography and experiment with color until it just feels right. Next come sketches of the logo, combined with some vector work in Illustrator until the logo options feel real enough to present to the client. We shoot to present three to five initial logo design options. Sometimes there are more if they are coming very easily. We never want to overwhelm, but we do like to share a variety of looks for our client to react to.
From here, the client chooses one direction. We’ll iterate on that a few times until the logo is finalized. Then it’s time to move on to designing the stationery and marketing collateral. Easy!