It’s common knowledge that recognized nonprofits attract more donors, but with the amount of clutter there is today, creating a rock-solid brand becomes quintessential to achieving a recognition that works for your nonprofit. In this article, you will find step-by-step guidance on everything you need to build that strong brand for your organization.
Start the journey with your powerful story
Effective storytelling is one way to impact both the emotional and cognitive mind and break through the clutter to achieve retention. Every brand has a story to tell and the truth is that nonprofits have a far more powerful story to tell, so why not start your branding journey by building this story?
Like every great story make sure you include a beginning, a middle, and an end. For a nonprofit, this could mean starting with what motivated your organization’s establishment and moving on to crafting the journey your organization’s founders went through in bringing it to life. Be sure to include the ups and downs and eventually arrive at the ultimate vision your NPO is trying to accomplish. Include real-life stories of the tangible impact your nonprofit is making.
Build your brand’s persona
Having documented your brand’s story should give you a sense of the personality of your organization, and this is exactly your next step to building your brand. Simply put, building your brand’s persona essentially means personifying your brand to give it a character that resonates well with your organization.
Schedule a brainstorming session and ask your stakeholders to talk about your brand as a person. After each one of you does the exercise, collaboratively arrive at the gender, age, nature, emotional quotient, status, and other essentials you see fit for your brand.
Below is a sample brand persona of a wildlife nonprofit organization:
Name: Empathetic Emma
Education: Environmental science postgraduate
- Extremely driven by wanting to give back to the planet
- Deeply passionate about wildlife
- Spends most of her time trying to identify ways in which the world can preserve its wildlife habitat.
- To work on preserving wildlife
- To raise awareness about the animals that are going extinct
- To facilitate fundraisers and use the funds to support the cause
Once you have your brand personality in place, you can slide into the visual design phase.
Arrive at the most suitable visuals
Depending on the persona you’ve identified, have a designer work on the visual elements of the brand. Start by identifying a relevant color palette, typeface family, and design style. Use these elements to then design the logo, a master branding document, and other marketing collateral such as email signature, letterhead, presentation template, display ads, social media template, and so on. Before you arrive at the working style for your brand, remember to get multiple opinions (you never know where a valuable input might come from)!
A quick tip – Keep your visuals cohesive to achieve enhanced retention with your audiences.
Tie it all together with effective messaging
Being mindful of the persona you identified, now think about how your brand would have a conversation to decide on the tone of voice your brand most resonates with. Create a vocabulary of the words you would use often, and also identify words you want to refrain from using. As part of this exercise, also work on your tagline and the brand bio.
Below is an example of establishing tone for the wildlife nonprofit organization:
We are friendly, empathetic, and responsible.
Our communication would sound caring, reassuring, friendly, personable, and realistic.
We would say: Our wildlife needs your attention
We would never say: Our wildlife needs your donation
Our tagline: Bring Back the Wild
Our Bio: Our organization was established in 1976 to protect and conserve the diversity of life on Earth in an effort to bring our planet back to its wild state.
Once you have identified all the above-mentioned elements, put it all together in a document that you call the brand book or brand guide. A brand book acts as a guide for any members of your organization who are going to be creating collateral on your behalf. All outward-facing collateral should follow the brand you established — typeface, color palette, logo, tone, tagline, bio, etc. Treat this as your rubric for any communication you want to roll out. This also helps a ton when bringing new designers or copywriters to the team.
Voila! Everything you need to establish a strong brand for your nonprofit! Continual evaluation and iteration will eventually lead you to identify the best branding elements for your NPO. This, combined with continued efforts to keep harnessing the power of storytelling will help your organization gain the recognition and credibility it deserves.