Guest Post By: Carl Diesing, Managing Director, DNL OmniMedia
Over the past two years, nonprofit organizations have been in survival mode— working to salvage fundraising events, overcome revenue declines, and meet a greater need across their constituencies. Working in a chaotic environment is challenging. So it’s understandable if some of the foundational elements of your organization, such as your brand, fell to the wayside.
However, your nonprofit’s brand is one of your strongest assets when it comes to raising funds, growing your organization, and advancing your mission. As we move forward in the a world changed by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s worthwhile to revisit your brand to ensure you’re working from a strong foundation going forward.
In this guide, we’ll cover the following tips for creating (or revitalizing) your nonprofit brand so that it can stand the test of time:
Before you can create your nonprofit’s branding, you first need to understand the story you want to convey with that brand. This guide won’t cover that step in the process— but, if you’d like to learn more, review DNL OmniMedia’s guide to nonprofit storytelling.
With that, let’s get started.
Your brand is the public-facing view of your nonprofit’s story. A lack of cohesion between your brand and your story creates dissonance for supporters, who may doubt the legitimacy and trustworthiness of your organization as a result. Your logos, color scheme, and core messaging should align with the story behind your organization’s mission.
Consider the following aspects when developing your nonprofit’s brand:
Assemble these elements into nonprofit branding guidelines— a single resource that’s shared around your team and externally for ongoing use. These guidelines will make it easy for team members to carry your branding across various aspects of your organization, from their communications with supporters to planning virtual events.
Reference the template below, pulled from DNL OmniMedia’s guide to nonprofit branding, to begin creating your brand guidelines:
You want to continually be expanding your brand’s reach. Design your nonprofit’s brand in a way that’s timeless and not likely to be dated anytime soon. The goal should be to never need to change or update your brand going forward, but instead maintain the same familiar external face for generations to come.
It’s especially crucial to consider your nonprofit branding strategy in light of your marketing efforts. Because most organizations use an omnichannel approach, meaning they layer multiple channels (ex: direct mail, social media, email, website) when marketing to their audiences, many supporters will see various messages corresponding to a specific campaign before they convert. If there is branding dissonance between your various marketing channels, it will create a less memorable impression on supporters and decrease the likelihood of conversion.
Keep the following tips in mind to carry your brand throughout your multichannel marketing strategy:
Depending on the size of your marketing efforts, you could have multiple team members managing your various marketing channels. They should meet regularly to sync on how your brand is being represented in your marketing efforts.
Beyond marketing efforts, your brand is found in your organizational culture, including interactions with individual supporters, interactions with the public at large, your board members’ reputations, and even your public stance on key social issues.
If your organizational culture doesn’t align with the narrative you’re building about your nonprofit, you risk coming across as disingenuous. Consider the following ways to reflect your nonprofit’s brand in your organizational culture:
Consider the following example of how a nonprofit could reflect its brand in its overall culture and make your brand memorable. Organization X is dedicated to a more sustainable, green future. It reflects its brand by:
While marketing is a strong way to tell supporters about your brand, your organizational culture shows supporters that you’re legitimate. If your organizational culture doesn’t align with the story of your nonprofit, that means it’s time for a major change to either your atmosphere or your branding.
Your nonprofit’s brand touches every aspect of your operations. Not only do you need to create a timeless brand, but also carefully coordinate your outreach and culture to ensure that the brand is carried cohesively across your efforts.
A nonprofit marketing consultant can offer a variety of services to help your team do so, including:
One of the biggest benefits of working with a nonprofit marketing consultant is their third-party, unbiased view of your organization. While your team may feel attached to your current brand, your consultant won’t be. They can evaluate your strategy and provide honest feedback about what needs to be improved to elevate your organization as a whole.
Your nonprofit’s brand builds credibility and recognition for your organization, but only if it’s created to last any challenges that come your way.
By creating branding guidelines, you’ll be able to successfully carry your brand through both your marketing efforts and overall organizational culture. And, you can work with a nonprofit marketing consultant if you’re seeking an unbiased, third-party view.
About the Author:
Carl Diesing, Managing Director – Carl co-founded DNL OmniMedia in 2006 and has grown the team to accommodate clients with on-going web development projects. Together DNL OmniMedia has worked with over 100 organizations to assist them with accomplishing their online goals. As Managing Director of DNL OmniMedia, Carl works with nonprofits and their technology to foster fundraising, create awareness, cure disease, and solve social issues. Carl lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife Sarah and their two children Charlie and Evelyn.