The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

The 5-Way Win of Strong Nonprofit Branding

If you think brands are just for big-ticket organizations like the Red Cross, United Way and The Humane Society of the United States; or you’re open to the idea, but don’t really get what branding might do for your nonprofit and haven’t pushed to learn more; or you simply don’t want to fight City Hall, then think again. You may very well be undermining your organization’s well being.

Every single organization – including yours – has its own personality, its own identity, and its own set of characteristics; a.k.a. its brand. But if you stand back, refusing to define and express your brand (and I mean really staking your claim to it), the way others perceive and talk about your organization will become your brand. An accidental brand.

I caution you – don’t be left out of the conversation about your own organization.

Here’s the thing: As the nonprofit landscape gets increasingly complex and competitive, it’s more important than ever to clearly convey your characteristics – mission, credibility, and unique methods and impact – in a way that links strongly and clearly to the wants and needs of your primary audiences (e.g. the people whose help you need to (or who are mostly likely to) move your mission forward – program registrants, donors, volunteers and more).

The marketplace has changed. Your organization will be talked about whether we like it or not. And it’s time that you join the conversation with a clear, recognized and memorable unified voice for your organization, that speaks to the unique value you deliver (that’s valued by your supporters and prospects). That’s powerful branding.

Here are the five wins of great nonprofit branding:

Five wins of great nonprofit branding

1. Clarifies understanding of your org’s value and relevance, in a flash

Your brand serves as a simple and effective vehicle to convey the benefits and ultimate value provided by the programs, goods, and services your organization offers.

When everything and everyone shares the same overall positioning, your organization is more likely to be perceived accurately.

2. Provides an assurance (or reinforcement) of quality and consistency

If your organization lives your brand, your brand must be built on a far stronger foundation than a recognizable name, logo or tagline. A real brand is about your organizational commitment to deliver products (goods, services, or programs) that are consistent with the brand’s positioning.

Fail to deliver appropriate products in an appropriate way (matching your brand) and you’ll lose trust in a second. Make good on your brand promise, and it’s a whole other story. Actions trump words yet again!

3. Differentiates your org in a memorable way

Done-right branding makes it possible for you to differentiate your organization in the minds of your audiences, making it stick. Stickiness leads to the enduring relationships that are every nonprofit’s dream.

4. Serves as a springboard for customizing messages AND launching new programs, services and products

Branding enables you to convey a consistent overall positioning while tailoring offerings for donors, volunteers, funders and other audiences.

In addition, you can build on the foundation of your strong, recognized base brand to more easily and effectively market and fundraise around new programs and services.

5. Provides a proactive crisis communications shield

A well-established brand helps your organization carve out a unique position for itself in the public mindset, preventing negative images of other organizations from spilling over to your nonprofit if there’s a scandal in the field.

It happens. Be brand prepared.

In-depth branding case study: Part One and Part Two

Learn about how branding done right works for Red Rover.org, and how they got there!

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About This Blog

Linda Lombardi

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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