As the saying goes, a brand is a promise—a promise on what your supporters can expect every time they interact with your organization. And the more you can deliver on that promise, the stronger you can expect your brand recognition to grow.
Research shows that delivering consistent branding across all channels can increase revenues by up to 23%. While this study was conducted for for-profit companies, nonprofit organizations can use this lesson to increase donations from new and recurring supporters.
To help strive for consistency across your organization, it's important to develop a brand style guide for your nonprofit. Arriving at a crystal-clear brand identity helps strengthen your messaging, visual representation, and tone of voice across your organization. Below, we explain why nonprofit branding matters, how to create brand guidelines, and tools you'll need to deliver consistent branding across all channels.
Why does nonprofit branding matter, anyway?
Developing a consistent nonprofit branding strategy comes with a number of benefits, both externally (with your supporter base) and internally (with your team of staff, board members, executive team, and volunteers).
Externally, nonprofit branding matters because it helps develop a deep level of trust with your supporters. Research shows that 70% of consumers will buy more from brands they trust, and won't buy from those they don't. As a nonprofit, developing a consistent brand strategy can help inspire trust within your supporter base, thereby leading to an influx of donations.
Internally, nonprofit branding matters because it helps make decisions on how to conduct yourself as an organization, across all channels. In written, verbal, and visual contexts, there are seemingly limitless ways to present your organization.
Having a consistent branding guide can help determine which angle is most representative of your organization and most appropriate for your audience.
For example, it will help determine:
- Tone: Are you a fun brand, prone to the occasional pun? Are you strong and bold, and therefore write a few snarky social media captions? Or do you keep things more straightforward and heartfelt?
- Messaging: How do you describe your organization, your mission, and your work? If you asked everyone in your organization to give a two-sentence pitch on your nonprofit, would you arrive at 30 different answers? That's a key indicator you need more consistent messaging.
- Visuals and imagery: Are you a playful organization that enjoys adding GIFs to blog posts and illustrations in social media posts? Or do you prefer a more serious tone, and therefore stick to stock photography or original photographs?
These are just three topics that carry limitless possibilities. Without a clear brand style guide to drive decisions, your organization would take a different approach for every single channel—web design, social media posts, email marketing, video, and blog posts. The result? There would be no clear brand to recognize, which can create an element of distrust amongst supporters.
5 elements to include in a nonprofit branding identity (and how to implement them)
A strong nonprofit brand can make your organization more recognizable, and therefore more trustworthy amongst your target audience. To help deliver brand consistency across all marketing materials, you need to develop a style guide.
A brand style guide is much more than typography, color palettes, and your organization's logo. Your brand style guide will help convey tone, personality, and values across your organization. Below, we introduce five elements every successful nonprofit must include in their brand identity and the tools you'll need to bring them to life.
1. Mission statement and values 💕
Your organization's mission and values statements provide the foundation of your brand identity. Your mission explains why your organization exists and what problems you are trying to solve. The core values serve as the guiding principles for how you conduct yourself as an organization. These values will help guide decisions on what you will and will not do (such as who you will form partnerships with).
Both branding elements should be proudly presented on your website, fundraising platform, annual reports, brochures, and other deliverables. Make it easy for supporters to understand who you are and what you’re trying to accomplish. For example:
- Website: List your mission statement on your homepage and about page, so potential supporters know how their donations will be spent.
- Fundraising platform: Feature your mission statement and values within your brand story or any videos you produce so supporters understand how you’re trying to better the community.
2. Target audience 👯
To develop a successful marketing strategy, you need to understand who you are speaking to. Typically, you will have more than one target audience, each with different connections with your nonprofit organization. For example, three distinct audiences might be donors, volunteers and staff members, and beneficiaries (individuals directly impacted/benefiting from your organization).
To speak to these distinct audiences, leverage these tools:
- Segmentation: Through Givebutter's marketing automation platform, Engage, you can build segments to deliver distinct messages to three different audiences, while staying on brand.
- Personalization: You can deliver personalized messages at scale by using merge fields to tailor each deliverable to the individual.
3. Tone and voice 📣
By dialing into your tone and voice, you allow your personality to really shine through your organization's brand.
Understanding your tone and voice helps arrive at a distinct "language" for your organization.
It helps determine whether you’ll write in a quirky, fun way (with plenty of emojis to boot) or whether you need more direct, black-and-white copy.
You can deliver your own brand voice any number of ways, including:
- Your fundraising feed: If your organization wants to ignite excitement and celebration, add emojis, GIFs, and drawings to your supporter feed.
- SMS updates: If your new brand is more casual in its communication, you might find that certain channels—like texting—are more efficient than others. Leverage Givebutter’s free outbound text blasts to engage your supporters.
4. Color palette and typography 🎨
To help deliver brand cohesion across all channels, you'll need to include fonts and a color palette in your style guide.
Colors and typography are included in all aspects of graphic design, including infographics, social media posts, headers for your newsletter templates, and your website. If you want loyal and potential donors to recognize your brand, you'll need to arrive at a consistent visual identity.
Fortunately, Givebutter makes it easy to implement these branding elements, through:
- Canva integration: Even if you don't have an in-house graphic design team, you can create custom graphics using your branded color palette and typography through Canva (all without leaving Givebutter!).
- Drag-and-drop email builder: Want to create branded emails for your supporters? Through Givebutter's drag-and-drop email builder, you can create branded newsletters without having to write a single line of code.
5. Logo and imagery 📸
Finally, every rebrand should include clear instructions of how to use your organization's logo, and which type(s) of imagery are best suited for your audience. Logo size and style should never be modified by staff members, but will typically come in multiple formats (such as an icon for your site title, a circle or compressed version for social, or a horizontal logo for your nonprofit website).
In addition, you'll need to list strict instructions on what to look for in stock imagery (such as whether or not to include illustrations or photographs, and how to include diversity in your visuals).
With Givebutter, you can include imagery across a number of different nonprofit marketing mediums, such as:
- Video: You can embed a brand video to include on your fundraising page, or send personalized videos to supporters.
- Social media sharing: You can easily create custom graphics and share them through one-click social sharing.
Develop a strong nonprofit brand experience with Givebutter
A strong brand can help strengthen trust amongst your supporter base, thereby getting you one step closer to your fundraising goal. To develop a strong brand, you need a brand style guide to guide decisions with your team.
A brand style guide is more about colors and logos—you will need to arrive at a distinct mission statement, values, tone, and voice for your organization.
In addition, you'll need to offer strict guidelines on visuals such as typography, imagery, and colors.
Fortunately, Givebutter has the tools you need to deliver a strong brand amongst supporters. Givebutter is the all-in-one, modern fundraising platform that helps ignite the changemaker in all of us. With Givebutter, you get 130+ features across a fundraising platform, built-in CRM system, and marketing automation to deliver a cohesive brand experience.
Ready to see how Givebutter can elevate your brand? Take a tour to get started.
Kylie thrives on supporting others, making everyone’s jobs easier, and cinnamon in her coffee.