How Nonprofit Organizations Should Approach Branding
Photo of homeless man
Values and Vision are the Heart of every Nonprofit
Nonprofits face many difficulties when branding. After all, the value proposition is your money in exchange for an intangible, higher-order reward.
Values are the heart of the brand for nonprofits. Often nonprofits talk about Vision and Beliefs. It means the same.
Trust is Fundamental for Charity Brands
It doesn't matter how compelling your vision and values if no one trusts what you do with the money. Trust is built on transparency. Generally, this involves clear declarations of where funds go and how much is spent on administration. It also includes communications that remind and reinforce the value of the work done by the organisation. Having a flashy building with a huge illuminated logo on top might be great exposure for a profit brand. But it isn't a good look for a nonprofit.
Nonprofits need to be able to carry out branding on a small budget to avoid being perceived as spending money on wasteful endeavours.
Clean Design and Storytelling
When it comes to the physical attributes of the brand, nonprofits require clean and memorable design to articulate the symbolic aspects of visions and values. The logo and all physical elements, such as uniforms, signage, store layout, stationery, logo, typefaces and colours, will work to unlock the perceptions of the person who sees it and recognises it.
But the organisation's communications also need to tell a story. We need to tell the story of why it's important, and why trust us. When the brand elements are recognised, they will trigger these perceptions.
Understanding why People Donate
In terms of acquiring publicly donated money, nonprofits can also consider thinking about donors as customers, and groups of customers who are similar as segments of the market.
I would be thinking not just about demographics (the age, location, suburb, income level), but psychographic factors. For what reason do they donate to your charity?
No doubt there would be a few different common reasons. If you take these reasons, and then describe one typical person, then you can build a fictional profile. Give her a name, age, income level and the typical demographic factors. But also give her a story. What were the emotional drivers for her decision to give money? What was the emotional reward?
Nonprofits can use the same for-profit model ways of targeting, segmenting and positioning to support and reinforce a relationship with potential donors.