Achieve Nonprofit Brand Clarity: for New Founders

As a new nonprofit founder, you can uniquely shape your organization’s identity with brand clarity. But, if your brand message needs clarity or consistency, you risk losing potential supporters. This article will explore four essential tips to help clarify your nonprofit’s brand and attract like-minded supporters who care about making a difference.

You might not realize it, but your brand could be coming off as confusing to your donors, staff, and constituents. Just as an effective brand attracts supporters to your organization, a disjointed brand can confuse potential donors, driving them away. To boost supporter acquisition and retention, let’s explore four fundamental tips to achieve brand clarity. 

Understand the elements of your brand.

To bolster the persona of your nonprofit, it is crucial to clearly understand the various components that make up your organization’s brand. Some necessary facets of your brand to consider include the following:

  • Graphic design. When you picture a high-power brand, you can likely visualize its appearance. For instance, McDonald’s is associated with its golden arches logo. Choosing graphic elements such as a logo, font, and color scheme that convey your identity is necessary for audiences to attribute your marketing materials to your organization and understand your personality.
  • Tone. Your nonprofit can benefit from having recognizable and consistent messaging. Choose characteristics representing your nonprofit’s values and shape your messages around them. For instance, you might choose a knowledgeable, passionate, and hardworking tone to boost your credibility and encourage new supporters to get involved.
  • Mission statement. This is the most important message you’ll convey to your community, making it a core part of your brand. Ensure your mission statement aligns with your tone and accurately reflects your goals.
  • Slogan. A catchy slogan will spread awareness of your mission and help community members recognize your nonprofit.
  • Story. You started your nonprofit to help your beneficiaries thrive. Your impact is a significant part of your identity, so it should be one of the main pieces of your messaging strategy.

While these are the tangible elements of your brand, you can also present your brand through your attitude. Think of it like being a spokesperson for your cause. Whether onboarding a new volunteer, striking a deal with a sponsor, or helping your beneficiaries, consistently exemplify your values to reinforce your nonprofit’s brand as you further your mission.

Write a master brand guide.

If your staff doesn’t know how to portray your brand, you can’t blame them for sending the world a confusing message. Items that seem as simple as changing a logo color or using the wrong font can mislead your supporters. Without clear guidance on presenting your nonprofit, each staff member could convey a different message to stakeholders. So, it pays to put your guidelines in writing to ensure everyone stays on the same page.

Making a written brand guide might seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be in practice. If you’re low on time or resources, focus on making a quick one-sheet page with specifications instead. It should include what is and isn’t acceptable to associate with your branding, what visual elements to incorporate, and the tone to use in your messaging. Whether sending out an email blast or a capital campaign appeal, always stay consistent with your brand guidelines.

Select a brand expert amongst your staff.

Even with a brand guide, it can be challenging to precisely unite your communications and materials across your staff. Different writers naturally use other voices, which can throw off your supporters. However, having one staff member who’s an expert in your brand elements and reviews materials before publishing helps reduce mixed messaging.  

If you’re a small nonprofit, you might need more resources to hire staff members. In that case, you’ll be the point person to approve branded materials. It’s helpful to have the most experienced staff member or the person who has been with the nonprofit the longest be the brand expert, but they might not have the time to read and approve everything. So, as your nonprofit grows, consider hiring a communications coordinator with the bandwidth to assess all outgoing materials.

Work with a nonprofit marketing agency.

As a new founder, you might still need to figure out exactly how you want to present yourself. If you’re unsure how to make your brand vision a reality, consider working with the professionals at a nonprofit marketing agency. A nonprofit marketing agency can help you channel your voice and imagination into your messaging by:

  • Optimizing your digital performance. Many of your supporters will encounter your nonprofit through your website. If you aren’t tech-savvy, nonprofit digital marketing professionals can implement your brand elements into your website
  • Creating branded graphic designs. Nonprofit marketing experts can create original graphics for you to use on your website or deliverables. 
  • Strategizing for the future. Your priorities will likely change as your organization expands and you meet your goals. A nonprofit marketing agency can help you plan rebrands that reflect organizational shifts. 

Wrapping Up

Achieving brand clarity for your nonprofit as a new founder is crucial to building a solid foundation for your organization’s long-term success. Following the steps outlined in this article ensures that your brand resonates with your target audience and helps you achieve your mission. However, remember that branding is a continuous process. You may need time to adjust. Feel free to seek help from a nonprofit marketing agency to ensure your brand stays relevant. With a clear brand, you can attract the support you need to make a meaningful impact in your community.


Lyndsey Hrabik

Lyndsey is a former editor for Nonprofit Hub and Nonprofit Hub Magazine. She now serves as a guest contributor, writing on topics such as social media, technology, marketing and starting a nonprofit.

February 23, 2023

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