Strengthen your knowledge of branding principles and best practices, and understand the importance of maintaining a consistent brand.
Click on the cards below to learn more about how each component contributes to your overall brand identity.
While your logo is important and reinforces your brand, it is not the brand itself. Rather, it is a component of your graphic identity system and a symbol of what your organization stands for. The brand identity is much larger than a logo.
Your organization’s voice and tone are a key part of creating and maintaining your brand. Through your key messaging, you can help define what the heart of your brand is that will extend across channels and audiences.
Your organization’s color palette, fonts, images, and logo make up your visual identity. Like the logo, a visual identity frequently is mistaken for the “brand.” The elements of your visual identity play an important part in your overall brand system and can help your audience understand who you are.
An organization that is focused on children, for example, might use brighter colors and a sans serif font. These visual elements would indicate that the organization is lighthearted, even when tackling serious issues.
Branding in the digital world is an ever-evolving issue. Your organization’s digital identity spans across channels—from how the organization is presented on your website and social media channels to mass email newsletters and one-to-one email communications. With so many new channels to use, it can be easy to let go of key brand components while trying to keep up with the latest digital trend.
While different attributes of your brand can be emphasized across different channels, consistency is key to creating an overall brand experience that is recognizable and memorable. Your brand should be true to itself online through voice and tone—messaging and visually.
Brand encompasses an audience’s physical and experiential interactions with your organization as well. These brand elements include signage on your building, office décor, how you answer the phones, how you build your internal office culture, and how your staff treat constituents.
Your brand is the image people have of your organization. It is your defining characteristics and value proposition. It is what distinguishes your organization from competitors and partners. Ultimately, your brand creates meaningful connections and builds trust with your audience and stakeholders, which is why it’s important to spend time developing and maintaining it.
Certain brands are easy to spot. Around the world, audiences immediately recognized Nike for its swoosh symbol or “Just Do It” tagline. In the nonprofit world, this rings true as well—think about the iconic Red Cross logo, for example.
Creating a brand and applying it consistently will allow audiences to identify you quickly and easily.
From a legal perspective, consistency is paramount. Having a consistent logo, typeface, look, and feel to your brand makes it easier to trademark your brand’s content. Repetition makes your brand more defendable in a scenario where you may have to protect your organization from infringement.
Your staff and volunteers are your biggest advocates. Keeping your message consistent—along with your look and feel—helps these audiences recall and relay this information more broadly. If you change your overarching messaging frequently, for example, it will be unlikely that your employees will remember what your brand stands for when asked.
Other stakeholders, like board members, for example, are important brand advocates. In keeping a consistent brand, your stakeholders will better understand and represent your organization.
Donors are important to any nonprofit, whether they be individual or institutional. By maintaining consistent branding and messaging, you are helping to reinforce why they made a contribution in the first place. Your donors will also be more likely to relay to their associates, friends, and family why they contribute to your cause if they can easily recall what your organization stands for and why it matters. This is a brand that they likely want to be associated with—make it easy for them.