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Taking Nonprofit Branding Beyond Logos and Visual Identities

  • by Shala Graham
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Ask the average executive (either from the business world or the nonprofit realm) what goes into a strong branding effort, and they'll undoubtedly tell you that it's all about the logo. Logos have been so studied and scrutinized over the past few years that they've almost begun to take on a mythical sort of quality. It's understood that every organization, charity, and even political campaign has to have one, and that it should instantly speak volumes about your personality and mission.

Each of those things certainly has an element of truth, and a nonprofit’s logo definitely is a focal point of design. However, to say your branding can be summed up in one image — no matter how cute or effective it might be — discounts the value of the rest of your branding efforts. In other words, some might think that branding is all about logos, but that isn't the way successful nonprofit marketers think.

So, what else has to go into your brand? Here are a couple of the key elements:

Color schemes and other visual elements.

You'll probably want to choose the colors for your nonprofit logo carefully, and then be sure to use them in other parts of your marketing, too. The same goes for things like fonts, photo styles, and even background images, which can help build an impression that people can associate with your organization.

 A distinct communication style.

Every well-known nonprofit has a style that works for them, and one that followers can easily recognize. If yours seems disjointed, that's a sign that you haven't put enough thought into your branding effort, or building consistency into your marketing and communications efforts.

In other words, the public face of your nonprofit should have a character and personality that speaks and acts in a certain way. To put things another way, it's important that all of your communications have the same tone and feeling to them. The character and personality for your brand are defined by your core values. These need to be clearly identified in order to build a consistent brand that serves your mission.

We could add to these two elements, but the point is what's most important here: Your brand is an overall effect, not a single image, font, or tagline. When you treat it as something bigger, and something that needs to grow and evolve with your organization over time, you have the basis for effective marketing and communication. What's more, you make it easier for donors, volunteers, members of the press, and anyone else who takes an interest in your nonprofit to understand your group and its mission.

Logos matter, but don't make the mistake of confusing them with your overall brand. Your visual identity is just one piece of the image your organization has to present to the world.

Need help with nonprofit logos and branding? Get in touch with SW Creatives today to see how we can build a customized campaign for you.