Not so long ago, nonprofits chose to shy away from branding themselves. However, now we’re witnessing nonprofit organizations mixing it up and trying new things. They’ve started to understand the role of nonprofit branding for their brand.
I think one of the major reasons for this is the increasing competition. There are multiple nonprofit organizations working to attract people for funding, meaning the market has become stiffer.
Online presence for nonprofit organizations has become increasingly important – especially if they want a chance to attract possible donors. One of the keys to building an online presence is having a website, and it needs to be flawless.
What Is Nonprofit Branding?
Let’s break down nonprofit branding into three words: Non, Profit, and Branding.
A very common practice for organizations is to run a branding strategy to increase their profits. When I say nonprofit branding, it basically means any organization leveraging a branding strategy for nonprofit reasons.
Now, you’re probably wondering. Why would they go through all that trouble? Why are they spending on branding if the goal isn’t to make revenue out of it?
The answer is simple – it’s because their goal is to attract donors for their possible cause. They aim to share their cause with the world, and the monetary help they receive funds what they work for. For example, WWF is a well-known NGO that works to save wildlife. They make branding efforts to spread the word about how we need to preserve wildlife and improve the human impact on the environment.
Their effective branding and marketing strategies use powerful content that makes people want to help.
The Struggle for Nonprofit Brands
When nonprofits set out to increase engagement via nonprofit branding, they find it extremely challenging, more than for-profits. NGOs have different values, and they deliver visions instead of products or services. As a result, people aren’t attracted towards them as instantly as they are to for-profits.
NGOs have a hard time filling the gap between their goals and the audience. In turn, the gap puts immense pressure on the organization to generate engagement and tackle complicated issues.
Whether the donor is an organization or an individual, an NGO should be able to convey its idea effectively and then fulfill its promises – even if the results are long-term.
So, how can an NGO make its marketing collateral effective and generate results?
To resolve the issue, the NGO needs to address its cause on a deeper level that impacts its audience – something more meaningful and touching.
When people associate with an NGO, it’s not just because of what they represent; it’s also about what people represent when they support an NGO.
To be concise, the marketing collateral should be powerful and reflect everything the organization and its donors stand for.
The 6 Key Components That Make Nonprofit Brands
Before you start building a strategic, exceptional, and consistent brand, you need to familiarize yourself with the components that contribute to an impactful brand experience. Based on my research, there are six key components that define an NGO brand.
An Organizational Strategy
When your organization focuses on a mission, the first key is knowing where your strategy is headed. You and your team need to understand where your NGO is headed and how you will make that possible. Additionally, you also need to know your brand positioning.
Your organization’s culture should live by your NGO values and ideas. The integration should be flawless so that your people can attract more people and represent your cause well.
Your Brand Message
What we say, how we say it, and who we say it to plays a crucial role in building a brand for an NGO. The key is to deliver your message the way your audience will understand and relate to it. Basically, craft the message according to your audience to reinforce your values.
The Visual Designs You Share
People find it easy to see the world through their screens, making the visuals NGOs use extremely important. The NGO nonprofit branding strategy should include top-quality designs and elements that attract and engage people. Your content should create a willingness in people to interact with it and then support it.
The Interactions You Have
Whether they’re in person or through a screen, the interactions should be powerful enough to deliver your mission. Your audience should understand your concept, and you should be able to deliver your promise.
The Communication Tools You Use
As an NGO brand, you need to have communication tools that can deliver your message clearly. You can only build a trusting brand if you can meet your audience’s expectations consistently.
The 4 Steps to Create Nonprofit Branding Guidelines
Your nonprofit branding strategy revolves around the brand guidelines because it shows everything a brand should be. The guidelines should encompass all the elements that provide your brand with an identity. It usually includes the color palettes, fonts, logo, design elements, the language you should use, and how you should deliver your message.
Step 1: Choose the Story Your Brand Will Deliver
The first step to devising a nonprofit branding strategy is knowing what you’ll be talking about. Write down the specifics of what your brand stands for to tell the story right.
The question to ask is, “what do you want to be known for?” What is your goal? Try to use a tone that’s a combination of conversational and factual.
Two basic practices for NGOs are to appear warm and compassionate – if it’s about helping children. The other way is to be firm and straightforward, which creates determination – the tone helps when the matter is urgent.
Both tones deliver the same message, and it’s your job to figure which one fits your cause; to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Step 2: Pick the Color Palette and Fonts
Once the message is finalized, the next step is to select the visual elements – the colors and fonts.
Start by choosing elements you want your brand known for but make sure to pick colors that align with your brand story.
Why? Because every color delivers a different connotation. For example, blue and green represent a clean and clinical connotation, while red and orange are colors that show determination.
The bottom line is, choose the colors based on your message.
Similarly, with fonts, you need to choose the ones that represent openness and friendliness. My advice – choose a font with smooth corners and flowy lines.
For example, Children’s Wish is an NGO that helps sick children grant their wishes and make their dreams come true. Notice how they’ve used some colorful design elements and a friendly font that makes them seem approachable.
They’re using this logo to promote their cause and message, making them one of the best nonprofit branding examples.
Step 3: Create the Nonprofit Branding Guidelines
Now that you know your story and your identity, it’s time for your nonprofit branding guidelines to come together.
Pick a branding guideline template and get to work according to it. The document should include your mission, vision, fonts, color palette, descriptive words, and instructions on where and how to use the logo.
Your team should be able to understand your guidelines and work around them to promote your organization’s brand.
Ideally, your brand colors and logo should appear on everything you use to promote your brand to reinstate it into your target audience’s minds.
Step 4: Build A Brand Kit Against the Branding Guidelines
The final step of developing the nonprofit branding guidelines is creating a branding kit. You need the kit to ensure all your social media platforms are in sync and your strategy is consistent.
The kit is like a list of instructions on how to implement your branding strategy, what elements to use, where the colors go, and how to apply the key visual attributes.
Every nonprofit brand is different due to its cause, audience, and approach. For this reason, there isn’t a fixed answer to how you should or shouldn’t brand your NGO.
With that said, branding strategies need tweaks and revision until they’re perfect and ready for use. The good news is, you don’t have to be a branding expert because once you focus on your message, everything else falls into place very naturally.
It all starts with a story.