Nonprofits exist to make a positive impact, and it’s imperative that their brands do the same. A strong brand is able to hit the emotional heartstrings of donors while building trust and establishing clear initiatives. But how does a nonprofit approach developing their brand as it will be the representative of the organization, its mission, goals, and beneficiaries? We put together five critical things nonprofits should consider as they are creating or evolving their brand strategy.
#1: The Name
As Shakespeare said, “What is in a name?” For nonprofits, a lot, actually. The name must convey the mission of the organization or if it applies, a well-known and regarded family name. This makes free-association easier for donors. The name should be clear and appropriately represent the essence of what the organization does so those interested in that particular cause will identify with the brand immediately.
#2: Be Relatable
Nonprofits rely on relatability. It’s the very thing that drives success. Because the nature of nonprofits is to appeal to a potential donor’s charitable side, the brand must be something obviously worthwhile. In addition, donations should be easy to make. Many nonprofits make the critical mistake of focusing on celebrities or honoring huge donors on the “How to Help” pages of their websites. This can consciously or subconsciously make other potential donors feel like their help isn’t needed or that they couldn’t possibly have enough money or connections to help the cause in a meaningful way.
Now, a nonprofit definitely doesn’t want to slight its very visible supporters and donors, but instead, offer a diverse look at donors. Include those smaller donors next to the large donors. Honor the people who give time and talent instead of money. This relatability makes anyone believe they have something of value to add to the organization and are willing to support it.
#3: Make it Clear & Visual
Most people interpret brands first through their visual design and this is no different in the nonprofit world. Everyone knows what a pink ribbon or the iconic black and white panda represent. Their brands are eternal and speak toward an emotional connection and community these brands build.
Nonprofits should consider their visual brand thoughtfully; it will be what identifies donors to each other and proclaim a donor’s support. It’s important to find a simple, clear design that isn’t too busy and lets the organization’s story take the spotlight. Visual design should also be timeless and be able to evolve with the company to stay away from trends and create a brand that speaks to the mission of the organization. Most experts will recommend one bold color and a modern or classic font for longevity.
#4: Think Outside of Yourself
When creating a brand, it’s natural to think, “What does the brand mean to me?” While important, it’s more impactful to ask, “How will other people perceive my brand?” Consider what the brand strategy not only says about the look and feel of the organization but also the goals and values of it. How will people talk about the brand next week, next year, or ten years from now? Remember, you’re already committed to the brand, so the impression it leaves on your audience of future and current donors is more important.
#5: Be Consistent
Honestly, this is a brand mantra no matter the type, be it nonprofit or for profit. Consistency in visuals, messaging, and voice is the key to establishing a brand that attracts attention and loyalty. A brand that is a little wishy-washy and inconsistent does not breed confidence and can be a turn-off to the current and future donors. If donors can’t trust you to be consistent with your brand, in what other areas might they find your organization to be inconsistent?
Creating a brand is no easy feat, especially for nonprofits. If you’re looking for a firm of creatives who can take your passion and put it to the perfect set of words and pictures, contact Boldthink Creative today! We’d love to help you tell your nonprofit brand story.