When you think of branding, you might envision corporations branding their products with a logo or a catchy slogan at the end of a commercial. Yes, these are all examples of branding, but they’re only half of the picture. The concept of brand recognition isn’t exclusive to for-profit entities. In fact, your nonprofit should have its own brand identity that shapes your community-building interactions.
If you’re new to branding, you might have some questions about how to go through the process, from shaping your story to personalizing your social media profiles. Don’t worry, this is a good thing! Here are some questions to ask and answer throughout the nonprofit branding process so you can ensure you have all your bases covered. Let’s get started!
1. What is nonprofit branding?
Nonprofit branding is what distinctly sets you apart from other nonprofits in the space, attracting supporters that resonate with your specific identity. The branding process entails creating a strong public-facing persona for your nonprofit through design and messaging. It’s far more than just your website design or your marketing materials. Essentially, it’s the who, what, and why your nonprofit presents to your community.
2. What’s our current branding strategy?
Every rebranding strategy needs a baseline to build off of. Take some time to assess your current nonprofit branding strategy, focusing on elements such as your mission statement, messaging, online presence, and visual elements (logo, colors, and font). Then, decide which elements you want to keep and which ones aren’t working as well for your organization so you know where to begin.
3. Why are we rebranding?
Once you’ve thoroughly analyzed your current brand status, it’s time to tackle a different question: why will a rebrand benefit our organization? Here are some common reasons nonprofits decide to rebrand that might resonate with your organization:
- To add cohesion to your identity
- To appeal to a new audience
- To level up to industry standards
- To compete with the opposition
- To accommodate new products or mission
- To make your brand complement your advertising or outreach strategy
Your rebranding is a large undertaking, so understanding exactly what your goals are is essential for staying focused.
4. What’s our new brand vision?
If you don’t know exactly what you want your new brand to look like, never fear! There are many ways to be inspired by the world around you. Here are some ways to come up with a few ideas:
- Take inspiration from many organizations in the space, both for- and nonprofit.
- Ask your nonprofit colleagues for advice.
- Consider which tactics have worked for you in the past that you want to keep.
- Ask your current supporters and board members what they’d like to see change.
The sheer amount of branding possibilities can make the process feel daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Use the resources around you to jumpstart your creative process!
5. When do we want our rollout finished?
Once you set your goals based on who you’re trying to reach with your brand, you should pick a target completion date for your rebrand. Setting a completion date for your rebrand from the very beginning is crucial to prioritize only your most important updates. Be sure to set reasonable goals based on your timeframe. For example, a simple logo rebrand won’t take as long as a comprehensive website rebrand.
Your timeframe also determines the scope of your campaign. If you only have a month, it probably isn’t feasible to undertake a holistic campaign that would normally take six months to execute. Understand that a comprehensive, high-quality strategy can’t be rolled out overnight, so you should prioritize the work that needs to be done.
6. How does my story fit in?
You can shape your brand identity in many ways, but the most important is by strategically telling your story.
Every nonprofit is built on a good story. If you present yours compellingly, people will naturally gravitate toward you to learn more about it. So, figuring out your storytelling strategy is a crucial part of your branding process. Keep in mind are Getting Attention’s elements to consider while crafting your story:
- Understand your audience. The very first step might seem obvious to you, but its importance can’t be overstated. Start your storytelling process off on the right foot by firmly grasping your audience’s characteristics and what they respond best to. For example, if your supporters are mostly older, saturating your story with new slang that they don’t know isn’t the best idea. To learn more about your unique audience members, examine your performance analytics, such as content performance and engagement by demographic, and adapt your ideas from there.
- Activate empathy in your audience. Humans are emotional beings! You should leverage this trait by including emotionally compelling media in your story. For instance, if you’re creating a tab on your website dedicated to storytelling, include photos and videos. This media transcends language, conveying emotion to an even broader audience than your written segments can.
- Highlight specific goals. Broadly, you should show a connection between your mission statement, vision statement, and your story. You can also use your story to emphasize a wide range of performance indicators, such as money raised or membership growth rate.
At the end of the day, you know your story better than anyone else, so brainstorm with your team to determine the most effective storytelling method. It’ll introduce you to many new audiences that care about your mission.
7. How will we plan our rebranding campaign?
You should spend ample time preparing in advance so that your rebranding journey is as smooth as possible. Moreover, you should use several materials to center your thinking, such as:
- A brand style guide. This is where you can let your creativity take control to determine your artistic branding. Include your logo, colors, and fonts for all of your materials. Be as detailed as possible by including your brand color hex codes and examples of your graphics. Keep it consistent across all of your platforms and deliverables so your viewers correctly associate you with your brand.
- A digital strategy plan. The new normal for making your organization visible is by promoting it over the internet. So, if you haven’t invested in your digital presence yet, it’s time to get started! In this guide, you’ll lay out your trajectory for all things digital outreach. For example, you might discuss redesigning your website or launching new social media profiles to reach new audiences.
- A language and tone guide. Your language choices and tone throughout your written materials should be consistent. Your tone determines the feeling you want your audience to associate with your brand. To help define your tone and brand personality, brainstorm a list of tone adjectives to characterize your organization and brand.
- A data collection method. As with any significant change, you want to monitor your progress over time so you know what you need to change. You should plan how you’ll measure success throughout the rebranding process. How will your key performance indicators (KPIs) change with your new brand? You might keep track of metrics such as your social media engagement and share of voice, blog post engagement, and other awareness-related KPIs to monitor the response to your rebrand.
- A call-to-action plan. Throughout your written materials, you should include calls-to-action (CTAs) to prompt your audience to complete certain activities. These should be structured around achieving your predetermined goals. For example, you might include specific guidelines for your website call-to-action buttons or how you’ll draw email recipients to your website using CTAs.
Keeping organized is the key to a successful rebranding campaign, so stay on top of the planning process!
8. Who will help us with our nonprofit rebrand?
There’s no doubt that refreshing your brand can be a daunting task. If you want further support, consider working with a nonprofit branding agency. According to Fifty & Fifty, they’ll provide numerous services such as:
- Graphic design
- Web design
- Online ad campaign design
- Social media content production
- Search engine optimization
Experts in branding know what makes donors tick and new visitors click. They’ll be able to guide you and transform your brand into one that donors and prospects love. Plus, they provide in-depth KPI analysis and insights so you know what’s working and what should change. Working with a nonprofit branding agency is a great way to kick off your rebranding efforts to impress your community.
Keeping your brand up to date is a large undertaking, but is incredibly important for your nonprofit to appear fresh and in touch with your community. You don’t have to go through it alone, either; nonprofit branding agencies and your connections in the field will help motivate you throughout the process. Ultimately, your prospective supporters might know who you are, but your new branding will center your why for all to see.
About the Author
Javan Van Gronigen
Creative Director | Founder
As Founder and Creative Director of Fifty & Fifty, Javan is the tip of the proverbial spear. Javan started his digital design career 20 years ago as Art Director for what is now one of the world’s largest digital agencies (Mirum, a JWT Company). He then moved on to Invisible Children where he was responsible for managing the team and all digital assets through the entire historic Kony 2012 campaign. At Fifty & Fifty, Javan has participated in and led every project, including 300+ websites, campaigns, and brands.