Your brand can be your most valuable marketing asset.
How well known are you in your community among:
- Those you could serve?
- Potential donors?
- Potential volunteers and community partners?
- The general public?
Nearly every nonprofit we know would like to boost their community awareness.
An important step to build community awareness is to reassess your brand. How effective is your brand and is it time to consider developing a new brand or refreshing your old one? Do the above audiences know you at all and, if so, how is your agency perceived?
What Is a Brand?
Here we outline a brand’s potential benefits, key brand strategy principles, and how to develop a new brand or refresh an old one.
InterBrand, one of the top naming firms in the world, says: “A brand is a relationship that secures future resources by securing stakeholder loyalty.” It’s that stakeholder awareness and loyalty that must be built to successfully grow your resources and services.
Key Brand Strategy Principles
- Branding is a client/stakeholder promise; it’s historically a mark of quality.
- Everything your nonprofit does creates an image – successful organizations don’t just hope, they manage perceptions others have of them.
- Branding is in the mind of others and emotions and perceptions play a role.
- Branding is about where you want to be in 3 to 5 years, not just where you are today (which is another reason why a viable Strategic Plan is important).
- Brand benefits include a:
- Promise to donors and clients
- Motivating identity for staff and board
- Mission that appeals to the community.
- Brand strategy should be based on what allows target audiences to differentiate a nonprofit and its services from other nonprofits.
- Communications to carry the brand should be planned, focused, integrated, consistent and reinforced.
- Key messages should be developed consistent with the brand strategies.
- Senior leaders should be visible champions. The staff, board and volunteers can be your best brand ambassadors.
- For the above 9 reasons, branding is a strategic imperative to improve marketing, build resources and support your cause.
Develop (or Refresh) a Brand Name, Logo and Tagline
Here are the key steps to develop a brand:
Brand Name and Logo Objectives
Here are criteria for an effective brand:
- Create associations that:
- Support your overall nonprofit positioning in your community
- Are capable of differentiating vs. competitors
- Have minimal confusion with existing names of other organizations
- Cross important cultures and languages
- Endures long-term; hopefully this is more than a 20-year investment
- Is easy to communicate and remember
- Is available – legal and protectable via trademarks (at least in your state of operation) and domain names
How to Develop Brand Names, Logos and Taglines?
- Draft brand positioning and brand personality/attributes
- Brainstorm potential names
- Select and refine a name; ensure availability of domain names and trademarks and that the word doesn’t have negative connotations in other important languages
- Design a logo
- Consider a tagline to support – here’s an opportunity most nonprofits miss: a tagline is a bridge between your logo and your elevator speech to communicate a key message.
- Avoid an acronym – usually it’s an invitation to anonymity! While it can work for well-known companies, such as IBM or AT&T, it can be confusing to clients and other stakeholders and can be challenging for lesser known nonprofits to keep explaining what their names mean.
Do You Need Help Developing or Refreshing Your Brand?
Ever have a baby and get too much advice from friends and family on what to name her or him? You can face a similar challenge trying to develop a brand that is truly strategic in positioning your nonprofit, which will last much more than a decade, plus design a logo that will stand the test of time with a consensus of your board and staff.
With an effective brand, you can turn your attention to building brand equity and awareness among stakeholders and your broader community.
Strategic4sight’s leadership has deep experience in naming nonprofits, products, and companies – we can help. With an effective brand in hand, your next step is to develop a strategic Marketing Plan.