Creating a powerful and strategic brand for your non-profit is the most important first step you will take on the road to making a difference.
There are more than 86,000 registered non-profits in Canada and 26,200 of those are right here in Alberta. That means there are thousands of organizations all vying for the attention of Canadians.
In order to stand out from the crowd, you need a strong brand that is rooted in in-depth research and strategy.
Why Is Branding Your Non-Profit Important?
At the heart of every great non-profit is the desire to make a difference in the world. To do that, you need support and engagement from donors, volunteers, stakeholders, community partners, and more.
Great branding creates that support and tells participants, partners, and supporters why they should trust you. Branding also helps differentiate you from all the other organizations out there. If you want to be successful as a non-profit, having a strategic brand is the first step.
How do you get started? We put together four essential elements for non-profit branding every new organization should consider before they hit the ground running.
#1 Create a Non-Profit Brand Strategy
A branding strategy is a roadmap to achieving your goals and clearly defines who you are as an organization. This includes everything from your brand objectives and goals to your story, core values and mission statement. Think of your brand strategy as the foundation on which your brand stands.
To start your brand strategy, we recommend honing in on your identity. Determine who your target demographic is and the stakeholders you are trying to reach. Clearly communicate your short-term and long-term mission as an organization as well as your core values.
Having a clear understanding of who you are and who you are trying to reach will help you make better choices when it comes to the other components of your brand like your visual identity and marketing plan.
#2 Create Your Non-Profit Brand Assets
Now that you have your brand strategy in place, your brand assets should directly reflect that strategy. Cohesion in every aspect of your brand will help build legitimacy and trust, while also differentiating your organization from other non-profits in your space. The goal of your brand assets is to stand out from other non-profits in your space through your content and visuals.
The main things to focus on in terms of your brand assets are your logo, website, social media accounts, and any marketing assets you may need.
We also recommend creating a brand guide that houses your brand colours, fonts and logo usage to keep your organization consistent throughout all your brand materials.
When it comes to your brand assets and the decisions you make throughout the branding process — whether it’s the content on your website or the social media campaigns you plan to run — make sure your goals and values are always represented.
#3 Make Sure Your Non-Profit Team is in Alignment
Make sure your team is aligned in their understanding of your main goals and purpose as an organization. This means having focused team meetings and gathering input on what is and isn’t working in your sector. It also means ensuring your team and volunteers receive the proper training and education.
Check-in with potential donors, volunteers and anyone involved with your organization for valuable insights. Continually collect feedback from your target demographic to better understand what their needs are.
At the end of the day, internal alignment means you are not only building trust within your organization, but it will lead to more effective messaging because everyone on your team is on the same page. Internal alignment truly is the road map on which you will achieve your goals as a team.
#4 Branding Your Non-Profit Should Centre Around Your Story
Telling your brand story effectively is one of the most fundamental parts of any successful non-profit brand. Storytelling should be at the core of all the marketing you do and every person on your team should play a role.
Great storytelling goes beyond just sharing your good deeds as an organization. It gets at the heart of your mission and the lives you will eventually impact through your work. Great storytelling also creates a conversation and invites people into the process. Team members and volunteers then become a part of the story, too.
We highly recommend reading A Guide To Storytelling For Non-Profits from Capacity Canada. This seven-part online document gets at the heart of storytelling, detailing how some of the most successful non-profits and charities have cultivated an environment of storytelling that is woven throughout their fundraising efforts and program development to their internal processes and marketing decisions.
How Do I Brand My Non Profit Successfully?
Consistency is at the heart of all successful branding. This means consistency in your visual marketing and storytelling. Sticking to your brand guide and continually referring back to your brand values and mission. It also means being consistent in the language you use with others.
To be a successful non-profit brand also means you need to be consistent in the way you fundraise and create transparency within your organization. At the end of the day, consistency builds trust with your donors, target audience, volunteers and the community and trust is foundational to your mission.
Need Help Branding Your Non-Profit? Talk To Us!
Spark and Pony is a remote creative branding agency based in Edmonton, Alberta that specializes in branding, website design and social media management. We help small businesses and non-profit organizations create timeless brands that effectively connect them to their audience.
While we believe strategy is at the heart of all great branding, it is especially true for non-profits. When all the components of your non-profit brand come together it should not only create credibility for your organization and help raise awareness for your cause but it should also tell your story in a meaningful way.