What’s in a Nonprofit Logo? 4 Things to Consider

Your nonprofit’s logo is a core element of your brand, as it acts as a reflection of your organization and mission. When supporters and new prospects view your logo on any marketing materials and donor communications, they should be able to immediately associate it with your mission. 

When we think of brands like Starbucks, Nike, and Mcdonald’s, the first things that come to mind are probably the mermaid emblem, swoosh marking, and golden arches. Loop’s nonprofit branding guide describes the logo as the “foundation of your overall visual brand” which is why it evokes so much emotion and recognition. It’s included in almost every document you create! 

As such a centralized element of your nonprofit’s mission, creating your logo requires additional time and effort to be sure it accurately reflects your mission and makes an impact on viewers. In this guide, we’ll cover four considerations your organization should take when creating your logo, including the following steps: 

  1. Reflect on your mission. 
  2. Consider the different types of logos. 
  3. Choose your colors. 
  4. Display your logo prominently. 

Ready to design a stunning new nonprofit logo? Let’s get started. 

1. Reflect on your mission. 

Your logo should reflect your nonprofit’s mission and will represent it moving forward. Therefore, before you start designing, you’ll need to take some time to consider your mission and how you present your organization to the world. 

Consider questions such as: 

  • Who is your target audience? They’re the ones who will interact with your logo the most. Ongoing donor engagement can begin with an impactful logo.
  • What makes your organization unique? Think about the elements of your mission that help your nonprofit stand out from others that represent similar causes. 
  • What is your ideal tone? Organizations with more formal, professional tones will have a slightly different tone and personality than ones with more casual or playful characteristics. 

Answering these questions before diving into different logo options will help you ensure your logo helps tell your nonprofit’s story and accurately reflects your cause. For example, a nonprofit that caters to children might decide to use a logo with dynamic shapes to emphasize its creative side rather than a monogram with hard ridges. 

2. Consider the different types of logos.

When you start considering the design that you’d like to see in your own logo, we recommend getting inspiration from other nonprofit organizations. Explore the best nonprofit websites to see how others incorporate their logo and the types of logos they chose. 

Consider if there’s a specific type of logo that you tend to gravitate toward. Wix provides a list of the nine types of logos that organizations can choose from, including the following: 

  • Wordmarks consist of the organization’s name, artfully written out. 
  • Letterforms only include one letter, usually the first letter of your organization’s name. 
  • Monograms leverage the organizations’ initials, generally used for organizations with well-known abbreviations like NASA. 
  • Symbols or pictorials are images that represent the organization’s identity, like Apple. 
  • Abstract marks are images that are more metaphorical representations of an organization’s branding, rather than a direct correlation like symbol marks. 
  • Mascots are cartoon characters that represent and become “ambassadors” or the organization’s brand. 
  • Emblems are more ornate designs that are usually similar to traditional crests. 
  • Combination marks are any two elements combined together to create one mark, such as words below a symbol mark. 
  • Dynamic marks are versatile, unique marks that can take on any shape that may not fit into the above traditional logo markings. 

The above photo provides examples of each type of logo organizations can choose from. Notice that one thing all of these logos have in common is simplicity. Your logo is featured everywhere from your t-shirts to event registration forms, meaning it should take on many shapes and sizes. Therefore, simplicity is key. 

3. Choose your colors. 

If you already have a brand guide that describes the colors that your organization will use for your brand, be sure your logo reflects those colors. If you don’t yet have a guide like this, choose the colors that you’ll use to represent your organization. 

Consider the natural association colors have with concepts and ideas and which will align best with your mission. For example: 

  • Red: Red is often associated with health, passion, and strength. 
  • Green: Green is often associated with growth and prosperity, making it a great option for conservation-related causes. 
  • Yellow: Yellow is linked to the sun and brings feelings of warmth and happiness.
  • Pink: Pink is often associated with creativity and innovation. It’s often associated with causes in the LGBTQ+ space.

Choose just a few colors to use in your nonprofit’s logo to make sure it remains simplistic. Then, make sure you have several versions of the logo; one in color, one in black, and one in white to use on various products and with any background. 

4. Display your logo proudly. 

After you’ve created your nonprofit’s logo, it will be featured on all of your marketing materials. Make sure your logo looks good everywhere and include it on your nonprofit’s: 

  • Website. Consistent branding is one of the most important best practices for your website. Include your logo on every page of your website and make sure it links back to your homepage. 
  • Letterheads. When you send direct mail to donors, sponsors, or other supporters, it should be immediately clear to your recipient which organization sent the letter. Include your logo on the letterhead to make sure this connection to your cause is clear. 
  • Emails. Set up your email templates to include your logo and organization branding. That way, every message you send will look professional and include your organization’s specific identity. 
  • Social media. Often, organizations use their logo as the image on social media profiles. This helps new supporters immediately identify the logo and recognize it in the future. 

While these are some of the core channels used to market nonprofit organizations, they’re far from the only options available. Getting Attention’s nonprofit marketing guide also names event materials, videos, content marketing, text messages, and Google Ads as marketing tools that nonprofits can use. 

As you put together your marketing plan, consider where you’ll need to leverage your logo and where it looks most natural and professional for that material. Then, choose the version of your logo that will best suit the channel. For example, you might use your black-and-white logo on the top of your letterhead because it looks the best on printed paper. And you may use one with the tagline for t-shirt designs but omit it from the top of your website. 

While your nonprofit’s logo doesn’t make up your entire brand identity, it acts as a core element to your nonprofit’s visuals. Put time and effort into ensuring your logo is as attractive and well-designed as possible to create a positive correlation between your cause and your identity. Good luck!

Author: Ryan Felix
Ryan is a co-founder of Loop: Design for Social Good who brings a strong intuition and insight to create bold, creative & impactful websites. Ryan has led design studios in Toronto and New York using his knowledge of Human Centred Design to increase meaningful conversions and design enjoyable web experiences.

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