Why Branding Is Essential to Your Nonprofit’s Mission

Why Branding Is Essential to Your Nonprofit’s Mission

Nonprofits do incredible things, often while operating with far fewer resources than their for-profit counterparts. Those at the helm put in the serious effort because they believe in their mission, but there’s only so much time in the day.

Sometimes it’s just not possible to get to everything on the to-do list. However, forgetting about branding could undermine your mission in a lot of ways.

What is branding and why is it important for a nonprofit?

Branding at its essence is about creating the relationship you want to have with your audience in order to foster loyalty and trust. Your audience’s perceptions of your organization are formed by each communication and interaction. Every touchpoint is an opportunity to make a good impression.

Ways to define and manage your nonprofit brand

Define your core brand values.

First, clarify the essentials: What do you stand for? Why does your organization exist? By identifying your core values, you have the foundation which creates an authentic and emotional tether between you and your audience. These values also provide a “true North” in order to keep the organization working toward a common goal. Core values can be used internally or externally and should inform your brand messaging.

Create strong brand messaging and repeat it.

Our media environment is definitely oversaturated. People need to quickly understand, hear and see messages multiple times before those messages truly stick. Create a short, catchy tagline, a compelling elevator pitch, and a deeper narrative. Use this messaging across your marketing materials and social platforms and outreach and ensure those speaking on behalf of your nonprofit are reinforcing it.

Position your brand for success.

In the private sector, you compete with other businesses to gain market share. In the social sector, you often collaborate across organizations. However, you still have to differentiate your nonprofit in the mind of your donors to create a desired preference and brand image relative to others in your industry. Positioning articulates that difference. In order to do this right, you need to understand your target audience and the unmet need you’re targeting. You have to assess other organizations’ strengths and weaknesses, your own strengths and weaknesses, your capabilities and advantages, and the impact you’re having on the community. Clarifying this will elevate you and rally your supporters, donors, volunteers, and partners to your cause.

Develop a visual brand identity.

You can reach your audience in multiple ways. For example:

– Social media platforms
– Your website
– Email marketing
– Print content
– Videos
– Events

The work you publish across these channels should be related and visually cohesive to avoid confusing your audience or watering down your brand. People have short attention spans these days, especially online. Keep your content on point so it’s easy to remember and quick to identify.

Branding isn’t just a buzzword intended for Silicon Valley startups. Your nonprofit, no matter its size, should invest energy in the process. The payoffs are impression, a more energized donor base, enthusiastic volunteers, clearly targeted goals, and a way to cut through the clutter and get your message across. But perhaps the best reward is branding done right gives your nonprofit leverage to do the work you’ve been called to do: To generate results that make a difference.