Branding is not just a marketing concept for the corporate world. Social service nonprofits are competing for dollars and need to make sure donors, volunteers and potential staff know who you are and what you do.
What is Branding?
The American Marketing Association says a brand is a “name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.” And there’s even more to it than their definition.
Looking for an example? Consider the Susan G. Komen Foundation. All I need to say is – pink ribbon. They have branding down to a science. Despite the fact that it is not the most dangerous cancer for women, it receives the bulk of the research money, donations, and charity event attention. That’s branding.
When people see that pink ribbon, they immediately know what it is and what it is for. It delivers the message, creates loyalty, builds credibility, and motivates people to give time and money by connecting to them on an emotional level.
Branding should be a part of everything you do. It should be closely connected with your website, your newsletters, your T-shirts, your social media, your business cards.
And it needs to be consistent to be effective.
This doesn’t mean that your agency needs to have a white ribbon. Or a black one. Or orange. But it means creating brand that will become the personality of your organization. It will remind them of you when they see your logo, your colors, your font, your tag line, or your voice on the other end of the phone. Your brand will remind and reinforce that you are the only solution to your clients’ problems and the only destination for the funds of your donors.
Keep in mind that brands are not only about the pretty stuff, the icing on the cake. It’s also involved in how you run your agency. In how you treat your participants and their families. It is part of how you answer your phone and respond to emails. You are making a promise with your logo – your ribbon - and you must deliver on that brand promise with quality service to your constituents, your board, your colleagues and yourself.
The goal of working on your brand strategy is not to come up with a catchy tag line phrase or to invent the next Nike “swoosh” logo. Your goal is to fulfill your mission statement. And the best way to do that is to figure out your personality and share that with everyone.
Talk to your staff, your clients, your board members, and find out who you all are and what your purpose is. This will become your brand. It will help with that tag line and maybe that logo. And you can incorporate your promise to the stakeholders with this consistent brand message.
Do you have a brand? What’s your promise?
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