Branding is a process of sharing your mission. Branding brings your vision to life. It is essential for real growth and recognition.
If you think in consumer terms, branding is not just about getting a target market to choose one product over another; it is about conditioning consumers to see the product as the way to satisfy a want, need or desire. This works for nonprofits – you can influence how you are seen and felt in the minds and hearts of your donors and prospects. Branding is not done to deceive – in fact the opposite should and can be true – your brand makes it easy for people to know and understand you. It also makes them care. Your brand may inspire someone to give you money, to use your services or to become involved.
The Process of Branding
You create an identity with the goal of building your brand; your identity is a quick, creative representation of your organization. Corporations pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop and maintain a brand. Yours won’t be that expensive but it does require an investment of time and money. The end result will be something you are very proud of, your constituents identify with and your prospective donors are drawn to.
The value of branding will first be felt internally. Being part of the process of creating an identity is highly motivating and energizing. The opportunity to reconsider the face of the organization and have that effort result in an updated, stylish and relevant image is very exciting.
The Elements of Branding
Your brand contains several elements.
Essential to your brand is the name of your organization.
Another key component is a logo, generally incorporating your name and a graphic image or customized typeface.
It may also include a tagline – a short, complementary descriptor of your services or purpose.
These three elements – name, logo and tagline – are the beginning of your identity. Together they form an image that people begin to recognize and associate with you and your services.
Establishing the elements of branding is a beginning – a good beginning – but it is the routine, repeated use of those elements and the act of living your mission that really brands your organization and makes it memorable.
Think of Susan B. Komen as an example. (I know they’ve had recent troubles but the only reason we knew them well enough to talk about them was because of their brand.) They did an excellent job of creating a strong brand, much of it based on a color – pink – and a ribbon. There are other equally important organizations with similar missions but this one was able to grow, at least in part, due to their strong brand.
Whether you are naming your organization or a program or your theme for the year, naming is a process. If you are doing it without professional guidance, do a lot of research and put careful consideration into it. No name will immediately please everyone but you are looking for the best option to represent your organization and its mission, if the name does that, everyone will end up appreciating it. Important factors to consider include:
Is it easy to pronounce?
Does it mean the same thing to everyone that hears it?
Will it be shortened (acronym or just using the first word)? Is that OK?
Is there a suitable web address (URL) available for the name?
Do any other organizations use the name?
A logo is the graphic representation of your organization. It reflects your vision and visually sets the tone for who you are and the work you do. Look around at recognizable logos; what do they tell you about the organization or corporation?
A logo starts with a concept; you make a decision about what you want your logo to convey. Then there is the execution, many factors enter into a logo design including type, style and color. A logo does not come as the result of a contest (unless you are an organization of graphic designers). It can not be copied from someone else. It is not clipart! A logo is more than choosing a typeface. A professionally designed logo is reflective of your vision and it is unique, memorable and easily recognizable. A great logo is essential.
Additional Identity Elements
1. Official color selection
2. Your selected font(s)
3. A tagline
4. Standards of use
5. Revised website and printed materials.
Branding is a very important process that adds great value to your organization. Once you have established your identity you will find numerous ways to make it work for you. Imagine how great it will be when everyone has a true sense of your vision whenever they see anything you produce and when they visit your office or attend an event.
Merle Benny is a Nonprofit Champion, devoted to helping nonprofits grow and thrive. She writes, teaches, consults and speaks to nonprofit leaders. She is the creator and director of the popular Nonprofit Champion Workshops. Merle is based in South Orange NJ.
With over 25 years marketing and management experience, as well as being a lifelong volunteer, Merle’s creative solutions for nonprofit organizations include project management, events, fundraising, websites, videos, branding, annual reports and brochures.