Why Brand a Non-Profit? Isn't the Cause Enough?
Born from the dreams and vision of passionate and highly committed individuals, charities and non-profits exist to respond to our societal needs. Branding is a critical element in translating this passion into a relatable story that is unique to a specific organization. More than the cause, branding tells the story behind the cause and the impact of an organization’s work.
For example, cancer related charities all deal with cancer, but they could be for children, type of cancer, research or support for patients and their families. Within those groups they are further distinguished by their mission, vision, approach, people, connections, and service model. They could be a small group or a large national charity with various locations and range of services within these locations. And on and on and on . . .
All of a sudden explaining what you do and how you do it has become much more complicated.
At William Joseph, our non-profit clients have a common complaint, “if only I had a two minute elevator pitch that could really explain what we do” or fundraising and communications staff tell us “I wish other departments would stop making their own marketing materials, nothing looks the same.”
These are very normal frustrations and ones that can be addressed through branding. A strong brand is one that takes into account the past, the present, and looks into the future. It sets the foundation and the tone and ensures everyone is telling the same story through words, pictures, and even colour. However, a brand is only as strong as its adoption and implementation. When brand building be sure to include various levels of the organization. The way a front line staff person speaks about the organization and their work will often be quite different than the Executive Director. Each voice is valuable and plays a role in defining who you are.
A known brand also builds trust amongst potential stakeholders. A donor is more likely to give to an organizaton with an established reputation than an unknown. Brand trust is also important for the individuals who might access your services.
While a strong brand is important for communicating with an external audience it also creates cohesion internally. Everyone speaking the same language and telling the same story translates directly into how work is done and programs are delivered.
The direct work of a non-profit is more important than always trying to figure out how to explain what you do or hoping others say the right thing. Build a strong brand and clear and consistent storytelling will become an integral part of your organization, enabling you to focus time and energy on the cause and the good work being done.