5 Critical Nonprofit Branding Strategies
When people think of branding, they may associate it with big corporations that have huge marketing departments and lots of money to throw around. But branding is just as important to nonprofits as it is to for-profit businesses—whether you’re a global organization or a grassroots initiative.
The way you brand yourself creates an identity for your nonprofit, helping you increase social awareness, cultivate an audience, and build a reputation over time. It influences how people see you and whether they decide to support you, so it’s important to get it right. To help you out, here are five essential branding strategies that your nonprofit can adopt to set itself up for success.
1. Differentiate yourself from similar organizations
Chances are, you’re not the only nonprofit tackling the particular problem you’re focused on solving. You may be approaching it in a completely different way than other organizations, supporting a niche subset of the community, or operating in a specific region—but if people aren’t sure what makes you different, they may overlook your nonprofit.
When you’re working on branding or rebranding your organization, start by conducting some market research (even if it’s just a Google search!) to understand what other nonprofits are operating in your subsector. What are their goals? Who are they helping? How do their programs, services, and methods differ from yours? With this information, you’ll not only be able to brand your nonprofit in a way that sets you apart, but you may also identify opportunities to partner with fellow organizations to share resources and better serve your communities.
2. Make your logo work for you
You can’t see the Nike swoosh without thinking of sneakers or McDonald’s golden arches without thinking of fast food. Your logo can do something similar for your nonprofit: creating an instant association in people’s minds whenever they look at it. In this case, they’ll immediately think of the important work you do and feel a rush of positive sentiment for your organization, encouraging them to engage with you.
This can only happen if your logo is unique and memorable. Balance is key: make it too generic and people may mistake you for another organization; too complex, and they may struggle to understand what you do. The best nonprofit logos tend to feature a clean, simple image related to the organization’s mission, set against white or negative space to make the logo pop. Many also incorporate the name of the nonprofit or a few words that encapsulate its vision, ensuring that anyone unfamiliar with the brand is quickly brought up to speed.
3. Keep your brand attributes consistent
When someone sees a message from your nonprofit, whether it’s an email, social media post, or an envelope in their mailbox, you want them to instantly recognize where it came from. To make that possible, you need to keep your brand attributes consistent. This includes your logo, tagline, and even the fonts and colors you use on your website and other communication channels.
When you’ve settled on your identifying brand attributes, compile a brand guide to help your team keep things consistent. This could be as simple as a Google Doc or slide deck that outlines your nonprofit’s brand attributes, along with some do’s and don’ts and any templates or additional resources that the team may find helpful when creating branded materials.
4. Ensure storytelling is at the center of your brand
As a nonprofit, you have an incredible story to tell, so look for ways to make storytelling an integral element of your branding. You can do this through both words and visuals. When you’re choosing pictures to feature on the homepage of your website, for example, think about what story they might tell to someone totally unfamiliar with your brand. What about someone who’s heard of you but hasn’t taken the next step in supporting you yet? Are you bringing your mission or a particular success story to life through the pictures? Do they complement the words on the page to tell a complete and compelling story, or do they feel disjointed and random?
Take this approach wherever your nonprofit has a brand presence. On your social media channels, for instance, your bios and banner images can get people interested in hearing your story, which you can then expand on with your marketing content.
5. Maintain an active social media presence
Branding and marketing are closely intertwined—so while the content you post on social media generally falls under the marketing umbrella, the very act of posting it is an act of branding. If your nonprofit’s social media channels appear to have been abandoned, this can reflect poorly on your brand, giving people the impression that your organization is inactive.
As a rule of thumb, aim to post to all your nonprofit’s social media channels at least once a week. In many cases, you’ll be able to post the same content across multiple channels, perhaps with minor tweaks to the format or length. The more active you are, the easier it will be to cultivate an engaged and active social media audience, so start small and work your way up.
If you’re looking to take your nonprofit’s social media presence to the next level, consider investing in marketing solutions from LinkedIn. To learn more, get in touch with our team.