This post is sponsored by Briteweb.
Have you ever caught a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and thought it might be time for a change? Maybe your haircut is getting a little tired, or you haven’t updated your wardrobe in a few years. Your “look” has worked for you, more or less, but you’re afraid you’ve fallen a bit out of fashion. Or, worse, you feel like what you look like on the outside no longer reflects who you really are on the inside.
Brands, nonprofit or otherwise, often find themselves in the same position. Your brand is so much more than just a logo. A brand is a living, breathing reflection of who you are, brought to life by every interaction between your staff, donors and volunteers. It’s both tangible and intangible. And, like your own identity, it’s always evolving.
Over the years, an interesting pattern has emerged: organizations seek out a rebrand—or a brand refresh—roughly seven to ten years after their most recent brand strategy process (or, if they’ve never done a formal brand strategy, seven to ten years after their organization was founded).
Below are some of the most common reasons these organizations were feeling the “seven-year itch.” Wherever you are in your organizational timeline, if you’re experiencing one or more of these criteria, it might be time to consider a brand refresh—or a comprehensive rebrand.
Your organization has changed
Chances are, your organization has evolved in some way within the past decade. Maybe your leadership team has changed, you’ve refined your mission and vision or you’ve gone through a strategic planning process. Maybe a new funding source has caused a drastic change in organizational direction. Does your brand strategy reflect who your organization is now? If not, you likely aren’t connecting with donors and other stakeholders as well as you could be. You need a new brand strategy to make sure your “insides match your outsides”, so to speak.
The competitive landscape has changed
It’s possible that when your organization’s latest brand strategy was developed, you were the only ones tackling the problem you’re tackling. Now, other organizations have joined the fight, and you need to differentiate your approach from theirs. Maybe your target audiences have changed, and your brand doesn’t feel appropriate for your potential stakeholders.
Your identity feels out of date
In the digital age, things move fast. A visual identity designed in 2010 may have been cutting-edge at the time, but will look completely out of place on a website designed for mobile responsiveness and accessibility. If you want to come across as innovative, forward-thinking and tapped into what’s going on in the world, your brand shouldn’t look like it runs on dial-up internet.
The worst thing you can do is let your brand fall so out of date that it undermines your organization’s credibility. The best time to fix a mechanical issue is when you first notice a strange rattle, not when your car breaks down in the middle of the highway. We recommend that you conduct regular brand checkups, either internally or with a wider stakeholder survey. This way, you can assess whether your brand feels like a current and accurate reflection of who your organization is, and how you’re working to make the world a better place.
According to Pamela Cantor, President and CEO of Turnaround for Children, the process of rebranding “has played an important role in helping Turnaround for Children synthesize our identity as an organization—both how we understand ourselves and communicate this identity to the world. [The rebrand] helped uncover the heart, soul and brain of Turnaround by connecting with people inside of our organization, outside of it, our champions and even our hesitant champions.’”
See what I mean? So much more than just a logo.
Samantha Langdorf is Director of Strategy at Briteweb, a social impact agency for nonprofits and foundations. Briteweb amplifies the impact of global changemakers through award-winning strategy, branding and digital work. Read more about Briteweb’s work here.