Is it Time to Rebrand Your Nonprofit?
To rebrand or not to rebrand? This is the question that guest blogger and marketing guru Judy Munroe tackles in her first piece for the Evans Consulting Group blog.
To rebrand or not to rebrand? That is the strategic question that leaders of all types of for-profit and not-for-profit organizations address periodically. Year after year, we see non-profit organizations large and small search for ways to rebrand or reenergize their image to better appeal to their audience. As we close in on the beginning of 2018, you may be asking if this is the time to devote dollars and other resources to such a sweeping, significant change.
As with any rebranding undertaking, challenges with brand consistency and staying “on message” will arise. Nonprofits need to especially make sure they maintain their mission statement and express their core values and goals across all types of media. By maintaining the integrity of the brand, your organization will still be recognizable to your audience while evoking a sense of evolution and growth.
Here are a few points to keep in mind as you consider your rebranding strategy and design.
Define your brand’s mission and voice
Reinforce your brand’s core values and mission as you transition into a new-and-improved organization. The essence of who you and who your constituents are should be felt from the logo and name to all written materials, including social media posts, newsletters, and the annual report.
The first step – after a conscious decision has been made to update the visual representation of the organization – requires a meeting with the executive team and an outside design specialist so you can hone in on the message and avoid an identity crisis down the road. If your mission doesn’t match your image, you will leave clients and donors lost and confused.
Once a framework for the new brand has been set, convene a few focus groups to react and respond to new design possibilities for a logo, tag line, and appropriate color schemes.
Develop a strategy behind your rebranding design
While a brand is more than its visual elements, design should not be ignored or left on the backburner. The look and feel of your rebranding will affect perceptions of your organization, which can make or break the success of your strategy.
You might consider changing your entity’s name. For example, the non-profit Livestrong rebranded itself after cutting ties with Lance Armstrong. They changed their name to the Livestrong Foundation, created a new logo, and shifted focus away from the athlete they cut ties from and onto the foundation itself.
You might also consider a new logo to express a new era for your organization. Principal Financial Group recently updated their entire brand, including their logo, to emphasize an optimistic direction for the company. Instead of its sharp, corporate logo, they went with a soft, welcoming “P” icon that maintains its sense of “corporate-ness” but is also friendly. Whether you go big and bold, whimsical yet subtle, or clean and sharp, make sure there is a strategy behind the design.
Establish strong, clear brand guidelines
Your organization’s brand guidelines are basically a set of rules your team should follow in order to maintain the integrity of the brand. By establishing these guidelines, your rebranding strategy – from design to copy to tone of voice – will be consistent. The personality of your brand hinges on these guidelines; without them, you’ll be hard to identify and in some instances, harder to trust.
By sharing your story or the experiences of your employees and the people you help, you can create a deeper connection with your donors. This can be done on your website, on a landing page, through eBlasts, and on social media.
Explore new ways to engage your audience with your new brand
Print ads, direct mail, and other traditional media are great resources to help share your new brand messaging. But one of our strongest recommendations is to use the rebranding as a year-long campaign to heighten your agency’s visibility in all media. Explore additional methods to engage with new and existing donors.
Blog posts, emails, social media, crowdsourcing and video testimonials are powerful tools to help engage with loyal brand advocates and donors as well as lapsed donors. By sharing emotional and compelling stories about how your brand is helping make a difference in the lives of others, you’re bringing the words of your core values to life.
The humanity behind the organization makes you more accessible, more likeable, and more relatable. People generally want to know that their money is helping other people, not lining the pockets of corporations that are too-big-to-fail. It’s essential to ensure that your brand adds value to society and speaks authentically to your donors so your organization can meet its strategic goals and objectives.
Judy Munroe is the president and founder of Munroe Creative Partners. Judy launched Munroe Creative Partners in 1988 after serving for 10 years as an award-winning creative director for a national, full-service advertising agency. An innovative businesswoman and astute marketing strategist, Judy is respected for her hands-on leadership and her finely tuned insight into the impact of visual messaging at every level of the marketplace. Recognized as Entrepreneur of the Year by Inc. magazine, Judy has inspired many young creative minds through the years. Under Judy’s leadership, the firm has received numerous national, regional, and local awards for creative and graphic excellence and strategic branding campaigns.