Between audits, donation receipting, and volunteer protocols, it seems like nonprofits specialize in parameters and rules. Do we really need one more set of guidelines? Yes, we do. Your brand is the front door of your organization! It encompasses everything from the entry point of someone’s interaction with your work to their memories of it after. Brand guidelines help you make sure what your audience is experiencing is consistent, authentic, and true to your mission.
Think about your daily work and the many hands, words, and voices that take part in it. Wouldn’t it be lovely if all of it shared the same great story? That is what a good set of brand guidelines can provide.
And that is a great start, but a brand guide is more than a font type and color scheme. It’s your voice, style, and substance. A great set of brand guidelines will govern more than which logo you use in your marketing materials. It will help define four key areas of your organization’s identity:
Your mission, vision, core values, and scope of work are detailed in this section. This can help your team navigate decisions about partnerships, programs, and positions your organization may take on. If it doesn’t align with who you are, it doesn’t belong in your organization.
When you’ve identified your audience(s) you can develop communications that they will be more likely to engage with and respond to. Thinks beyond demographics and consider what they enjoy, why they patronize or support your organization, and what their aspirations are.
This is where those oh-so-important logos and colors come into play, but also what type of imagery and graphics you use. Be sure to consider #2 when developing your image and style because it should appeal to your audience and not just your team.
Your brand voice is a hallmark of your organization’s personality. Are you playful and fun, or professional and serious? Is your style conversational and engaging or direct and to the point?
When your organization is consistently represented to the world, you eventually will gain a reputation and an awareness that will help you build efficiency in your communications. Well-established brands don’t need to lead with their background or basic information about their services because their audience knows who they are and what they do. Not only can this create efficiency for the team, but it saves money, permits more creativity, and often leads to more effective communication.
Want to have your social post, email, or mailer stand out? Build brand recognition so that you can cut to the front of the communications line.
Assets aren’t limited to buildings or cash on hand. Your organization’s identity and reputation are two of your most important assets. Just as you budget for your financial assets and ensure your physical ones, a brand guide can protect and steward your organization’s identity.
For more information on this topic, download our free how-to on How to Create a Brand Guide.