The Definitive Guide to Strong Non-profit Branding

What is a brand?

Branding expert Marty Neumeier defines a brand as ‘ Who you are, what you do, and why you matter.” He adds that a great brand is “It’s not what you say you are, it’s what they say you are.”
Branding shapes the perception and evokes emotions of a company, organization, or entity. It tells a story that people can relate to and connect with an organization enhancing its awareness to achieve the desired objectives.

What is non-profit branding?

Non-profit branding is a positioning strategy of non-governmental organizations to communicate what is at the heart of their work. It’s a promise they make and deliver to supporters, donors, and partners.

Importance of non-profit branding

Attracting ideal supporters
Brand messaging crafted after customer research will attract ideal non-profit supporters. How an organization communicates its value proposition verbally or nonverbally will make or break its mission.
Command higher donations
A tremendous non-profit brand can command higher donations from its supporters by crafting a brand message that speaks to its emotions. The statement should cover the following metrics.
– Memorable
– Standing out to cut through the clutter
– Convey in simple words why they should care
Increase campaign brand awareness
Non-profit branding amplifies the organization when the messaging is well crafted and consistent across all communication channels. A well-crafted brand message makes the organization’s marketing efforts worthwhile, saving money and time.

How to evaluate a non-profit brand’s impact

Before building or re-focusing your organization’s brand strategy, evaluate the effectiveness of the existing brand awareness impact.
Here are several questions to answer;
● Do donors, volunteers, and program participants clearly understand what we are working toward?
● Do our brand values reflect the mission were striving to accomplish?
● Are our current stakeholders a reflection of our target audience?
● Are we effectively tracking our brand awareness and marketing strategies?

What are the elements of nonprofit branding?

1. Brand compass
A brand compass answers the ‘WHY? ‘of the organization. It gives direction to the nonprofit, enabling it to fulfill its mission. Here are the fundamentals of a brand compass chart;
● Culture
● Mission
● Vision
● Purpose
● Strategic objectives
2. Brand personality
A brand personality is a framework that helps organizations and companies shape the way people feel about their services, mission, or product. This creates an emotional connection to nonprofit organizations that solidify support for achieving their mission.
3. Brand archetype
Brand archetypes represent your brand based on 12 critical human desires and values such as belonging, power, and safety. This enables nonprofits to create a brand narrative with which the target audience can connect.
Here are some examples;
The Hero craves mastery. They don’t back down from a challenge and display courage, honesty, and bravery – a familiar archetype in sportswear brands.
The Caregiver craves service. The central theme of this archetype is altruism. Nonprofit and sustainability brands depict this archetype often.
4. Competitive advantage
You can’t overlook the competition even when building your brand strategy. To determine a competitive advantage that works for your nonprofit organizations, answer the following questions;
– What experience do your competitors offer to the target audience?
– How big is their brand awareness?
– What do their donation campaigns look like?
– What are some of the projects they have achieved?
– How different is their brand messaging?
5. Brand promise
A brand promise is a unique and enduring idea that an organization commits to delivering to its target audience.
6. Visual identity
These are the integrated visual elements that make your nonprofit differentiated and recognizable. Visual identity embodies all the defining characteristics of your brand. Here are some of the brand visual elements;
● Logo
● Color theme
● Iconography
● Photography
● Typography
7. Verbal identity
These include the organization’s name, tagline, brand messaging, and brand story.
What makes an excellent verbal identity?
● Keep it simple to promote clarity.
● Make it distinct from competitors.
● Devise a verbal identity that resonates with your audience

Steps to non-profit branding

1. Determine your brand story
The brand story should define the organization’s purpose for program participants and the target audience. By storytelling, your non-profit organization fosters trust and loyalty. Steps to crafting a non-profit brand story;
● Make your audience the hero.
● Define your audience’s problems
● Be a guide with a solution
● Create a clear plan
● Include a clear call-to-action
● Discuss potential failure
● End your story with success
2. Choose colors and fonts for your brand.
– Understand what brand colors mean
– Identify your brand essence
– Look at the competitor’s brand colors
To choose your organization’s brand fonts, consider the following factors;
● Choose a few fonts to start.
● Research your typography
● Make sure the fonts are versatile
● Understand your brand identity
● Consider typography hierarchy
3. Build a non-profit branding guidelines
A brand guide aims to maintain consistency, ensure brand equality, and encourage deliberate decision-making to build a tremendous non-profit brand.
To build a brand guide, you need a brand style guide that has;
– Logo
– Tone and brand voice
– Mission and values
– Iconography
– Color palette
– Typefaces

A non-profit branding checklist

1. Do a deep dive into your organization’s mission, values, identity, and target audience.
2. Layout your brand story that resonates and connects with the target audience.
3. Determine your brand style guide essentials.
4. Create a detailed brand guide book or style guide for easy brand strategy
5. Test and get feedback on your non-profit’s branding choices
6. Develop a range of brand kits, variations, and contexts.
7. Review your brand strategy regularly to update and fill any missing gaps

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