Updated: May 5
Branding may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about your nonprofit.
It might even feel a little too commercial for a nonprofit organization focusing on delivering social impact. Branding can sound like something that’s reserved for large for-profit enterprises or, and this might be worse, celebrities working on prompting a personal brand .
Branding - and brand recognition - is as important for nonprofit organizations as it is for businesses and social media influencers.
First, what is a brand?
A brand is a construct held in the minds of your audience of what you stand for. You may feel your brand stands for one thing, but it may represent something else in the mind of your audience. Brand management is managing those associations and making sure they are in alignment. A strong brand gets you recognized, influences the way your nonprofit’s messages are received, and increases engagement among media, supporters, and donors. So paying attention to it is pretty important.
Some ways to build a strong brand
1. See the bigger picture: get together with your team and conduct a brand audit. Review your mission and vision statement making sure it still aligns with your goals. Reflect on your successes and failures and learn from them. Brainstorm with your team about what your organization means to each one of you. Gather input from your board, supporters, and donors.
You, more than anyone should have a clear vision of your brand.
2. Know your audience(s): create a donor and supporter persona. This is a representation of your ideal donors and supporters, and represents who they are and what they stand for.
This makes understanding who they are and how to reach them with your message much easier.
• What is their age or gender?
• What is their income level?
• What social media platforms do they use?
• What's the best way to contact them?
• What issues are most likely to stir their interest?
• Do you want them to donate, volunteer, join your organization, or spread the word?
3. Create a branding guide: this outlines your main design elements, the typography, the logo, and other elements of the brand. Visual consistency is critical for a brand to be recognized. The guide includes rules for how to use the logo properly, typography and font usage, what colors are approved, the tone of voice to be used in copy, what photography is acceptable, the usage of backgrounds and how to use these elements online. Remember a picture is worth a thousand words, something that’s even more true today. Go online and research branding guidelines, you’ll quickly see how detailed and important they are. And remember, Team Kat & Mouse, Nonprofit Consultants is here to help!
4. Use storytelling as an important tool: successful nonprofit branding both convinces the head and touches the heart. To convince the head, make sure your nonprofit is transparent, clear, and communicative with your supporters and donors. Share frequently about your impact, answer supporters’ questions, demonstrate how the donations money is spent. Use facts, data, and impact measurement to show your donors and supporters why your organization is doing good work and why you’re different from other nonprofits. Make sure to tell authentic stories about your work. Audiences can tell the difference between a sales pitch and a genuine story. Visual storytelling, like video is very effective. Always have a central character. The central character is usually someone that has benefited from your organization’s work. It’s easier for viewers to relate to a central character, rather than groups of people or abstract concepts.
5. Innovate: people remember organizations that are doing something different and unique, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Became the thought leader in your area of expertise. Drive conversions on social media platforms, conduct research related to your cause, encourage idea sharing both within and outside the organization, try to be the trendsetter and not just a follower of trends.
Branding is no simple task. It’s a constant, on-going process.
So don’t get discouraged.
Greetings, I’m Fran Parente,
I pride myself on being that rare creative professional that understands the big picture. I focus on combining strong strategic and tactical acumen. I have a passion for the nonprofit sector as it gives me a chance to use my skills to change the world!
Reach out today and set up a free consultation!
Being a St Louis native, I really was impressed by the entire rebrand of St. Louis Public Radio
It really sets them apart from commercial radio! As for Video’s my favorite is produced by Vario (St Louis)for Almost Home St Louis