Branding is an important key to the success of any venture, and nonprofits are no exception to this. How your brand allows you to craft a personality around your nonprofit, which you can then use to leverage interest and engagement with your audience, whether they are already aware of your nonprofit or not.

In short, your brand influences how people think of a company or nonprofit.

There are a lot of different components that go into creating a brand. Most people think of solid factors, such as the name and logo — and those are important. We’ll discuss them at length in this article.

But more goes into branding than just those aspects. So let’s take a look at five different checkpoints on the branding to-do list, to get your nonprofit’s brand out to your potential audience.

Choose Your Name

Choosing a name for a company or nonprofit is an important starting point. You need that name in order to craft your brand; the name will heavily influence the style and personality of the overall brand.

Depending on your nonprofit and whether it has already been put in place, it may already have a name. In this case, it’s time to move on to the next step, where you can use that name as a jumping-off point for branding.

However, if you do not yet have a name, this is an excellent time to put thought into it!

Consider some of the following factors that can be included in your nonprofit’s name:

  • The name of the person who started it
  • Names of some of those involved in the work
  • The local area in which the nonprofit operates
  • The type of nonprofit
  • The goal of the nonprofit
  • An aspect of the inspiration behind the creation of the nonprofit

Nonprofit names typically are straightforward and use one of the factors mentioned above. But don’t be afraid to think outside the box if your nonprofit name is not already set in stone. You can combine a straightforward factor, like the name of the person who started the nonprofit, along with a more abstract factor or note of inspiration: something like Dave’s Dreambuilders, for instance.

It is definitely recommended to get feedback on the nonprofit name before the brand is crafted around it. Take into account sound-alikes, in the event that there are other companies or corporations who might be mistaken for your nonprofit. And look at the connotation of the words and names you use, as well as ease of spelling and pronunciation.

Build Your Brand Personality

Once you have your name decided upon, you can start to build a brand personality around it.

Consider these questions:

  • What are the goals of the nonprofit, and who does it benefit?
  • What type of personality traits will draw people to the nonprofit, i.e.., family-oriented, friendly, trustworthy, etc.?
  • What words embody the mission of the nonprofit?

It’s only natural that the personality of a brand is at least somewhat influenced by the people who work with and operate that brand. As the creator of your nonprofit, make sure that your goals and standards align with the nonprofit’s goals and standards; this will promote authenticity, as it is usually very obvious to onlookers when a nonprofit’s owner agrees or disagrees with the purpose of the nonprofit.

Authenticity is a highly sought-after trait for brands of all kinds, but especially a nonprofit.

Create A Style Guide

Now that you have the basis for your brand personality, you can put together your style guide. This will be used for all of your visuals, as well as marketing and other content centered on your nonprofit.

For your brand style guide, choose the following:

  • A color palette, usually including at least one main and two secondary colors
  • A range of font styles, usually including at least two or three; some should be heavier weight for headers, and the styles should complement each other while being easy to read and user-friendly
  • A graphic style, based on the brand personality
  • Any other criteria that should govern branded content

We’ll talk more about the specific graphics in the next portion.

Craft Your Visuals

With your style guide at hand, it’s time to put together your visuals.

Here is a list of some suggested visuals and graphics, though it is by no means exhaustive; you will want to consider other types of visuals that are specific to your nonprofit:

  • Nonprofit logo
  • Banners
  • Headers for individual articles
  • Marketing materials
  • Infographics

If you don’t have a lot of experience with graphic design, don’t worry. There are plenty of resources out there to help you along the way. Sites like Piktochart help with banners and infographics, and sites like Logo Design are great for constructing a compelling logo.

Non-visual Content

Every nonprofit needs to have a compelling copy to communicate the nonprofit’s purpose to the audience. A great place to start is by making sure that your mission statement is written out clearly. You may also want to craft an “About Us” article to fill in your audience on how and why your nonprofit got its start.

As you add to your website, you will want to continue to create content that compels your audience. You will also need a marketing and advertising copy.

Again, if you’re not proficient at crafting compelling copy, don’t panic! There are also a number of companies and freelancers out there who are experts at this, and you can draft their assistance.

Getting Your Nonprofit “Out There”

Armed with your visuals and some basic written content, it’s time to put your nonprofit brand out in the public eye. The primary way of executing this is by building your website — once more, if this isn’t your area of expertise, you can bring in a professional.

Your website is your nonprofit’s home base and should be easy to navigate, as well as uphold and reinforce your brand personality from having a website logo design to the way it looks to give the message of your organization.

It’s also recommended to branch out on social media, launching your brand across a variety of platforms in order to reach more of your potential audience. Just make sure to give feedback to your home base by including links to relevant content on your website or blog.

From start to finish, building a nonprofit brand isn’t a one-and-done situation; but it can be accomplished even with a minimum of know-how and a limited budget.

Featured Image: istock.com/Zhanna Hapanovich