It’s intangible and emotional while at the same time tangible and based in real life.
It’s what your constituents think of you, the energy your organization portrays, and the feeling evoked from your communications.
In short, your brand is the gut feeling your supporters and the world have when thinking about, hearing about, seeing and interacting with your nonprofit organization.
Inconsistency is Your Worst Enemy
As a nonprofit, you can’t afford to dilute your brand with inconsistent messages. Inconsistency in your message causes distrust and over time will make your supporters skeptical about who you are and what you do.
Obviously, you’re not trying to create skeptics. You’re building a base of loyal fans who support your wholeheartedly.
But if you lack focus it’s likely you’re sending inconsistent messages on a regular basis without even knowing it.
How do you avoid this inconsistency?
You avoid sending inconsistent messages by creating and living by a brand manual – a document that provides all of the pertinent information needed to communicate your brand – internally and externally.
A solid brand manual includes:
- An overview of your mission – on which you should strive to focus all communications.
- History – if appropriate, share your history and how your brand has evolved over time. This will help your audiences (internal and external) understand how you’ve evolved.
- Positioning in the market – what’s your niche and brand promise, and how do you fit into the competitive landscape?
- Brand architecture – are you part of a group, consortium or national organization? Or does your brand exist alone?
- Brand Assets – Usable colors, fonts, logo options, digital use, print usage parameters and styles.
An Excellent Brand Manual Example
If you don’t already have a brand manual it can be helpful to see an example that will get the creative juices flowing.
American Heart Association has done an excellent job with their brand manual, which is posted online and used for guidelines, continuing education, history lessons and education. Check it out for inspiration!
From writing press releases and blog posts to designing banner ads and publishing fundraising websites, having a published set of brand standards will help ensure everyone working for and with you understands your standards and expectations.
You’ve worked hard to find a niche in the nonprofit market, and to continually serve your mission through a strong brand. Protect it by documenting (in a brand manual) and enforcing brand standards throughout your communications.
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