Why You Should Care About Your Branding Process

Branding is one of the most important elements any organization must consider in order to successfully achieve its mission. Yet it is often overlooked –  potentially affecting fundraising opportunities and more. Indeed, since a strong brand has a major impact on the ability to achieve your goals, it is essential to take the necessary time to develop an effective brand strategy. Here are a few things to consider in the process of creating — or redesigning — your non-profit brand.

The benefits of a strong brand

One of the main reasons for creating a strong brand is to increase recognition. The more your organization is known and recognized, the more it will be able to attract the support of donors. A strong brand also goes a long way in developing and maintaining relationships with stakeholders and in increasing donor loyalty.

Organizations with solid reputations have the ability to create greater public awareness about the issues that are important. When greater organizational recognition combines with a high level of public awareness for your cause, mobilizing volunteers, recruiting board members, and hiring and retaining staff becomes so much easier.

The Branding Process

Before starting work on the creative side of things, the first step is to determine the target audiences. Think of the people who are currently receiving your services or who may receive them in the future, their family and friends, your suppliers and the people who support your cause – they will form the audience that interacts with your brand. Knowing your audiences well will help you choose how to present yourself to them.

Doing some research on similar organizations helps you find out more about those working in the same issue area, but it also informs you on how you differentiate yourself. This analysis will allow you to understand the landscape in which you operate and help you define your positioning.

Creating a brand identity – more than meets the eye

Creating a brand or updating an existing one requires everyone’s input. In the social sector, this typically involves board and staff members, partners, and donors. It is a journey dotted with important discussions between the people who are most passionate about your organization. By carefully surveying these stakeholders the characteristics of your brand will gradually take shape. In the end, you will be proud of the personality you have carved out for your organization and the distinct traits that define its identity.

When creating a brand identity consider the following points:

  • Make sure you first agree on the organization’s mission, vision and values. 
  • Define your organization’s persona; which brand archetype does it correspond to? Is your organization more heroic, wise, or caring?
  • Choose a name: some organizations opt for a descriptive name, such as Les Banques alimentaires du Québec, while others have a more evocative name, such as Moisson Montréal. 
  • Create a visual identity. The main element of identity, the most recognizable one, is the logo. But the visual elements also include the primary and complementary colors, the fonts you use, and the style and size of the illustrations. These elements will be applied to your website and all other means of communication, from emails to business cards.

    Deploying your brand identity

    Since the ultimate goal is to raise awareness for your brand, you’ll want to bring it to life through an effective branding strategy. Also called the brand development strategy, it should allow you to cultivate relationships with your target audiences. First set your strategic goals and the steps you need to take to achieve them. The strategy should include, but is not limited to the following:

    Web Strategy
    to ensure that your website and brand stand out when people are looking for answers or help in your area of expertise.


    Inclusivity and Accessibility
    Should your communications be translated into French? Is the level of language adequate? Is the copy inclusive? Is your website accessible to people with hearing, visual or motor impairments?

    Social Media Strategy
    Choose the most relevant social networks based on your target audiences and post regularly. Think through how exactly your social media presence fits in with your development goals and communications initiatives.

    Evaluation of your strategy

    Set up a process to assess the strength of your brand. Use tools like Google Analytics or Fathom, and Facebook Insights. Feel free to survey your audience from time to time. This will allow you to determine which elements of your strategy work best and which are less effective, and make adjustments where needed.

    Brand Guidelines

    Your brand guidelines should contain all the information about the use of your logo and brand features. It will be an essential tool for your team, but you will also need to provide it to your volunteers when they organize fundraising events for your organization. Your guide should at least contain the following basic elements:

    • Logo: when and how to use the colour or black and white version, the minimum size, the space required around the logo, etc.
    • Colour: What are the primary and secondary colours and where to use them?
    • Copywriting: key messages, the organization’s vision and objectives, the rules on inclusive writing, style guide, etc.
    • Typography: fonts for paragraphs and titles, font size, type of lists (bulleted or numbered), etc.
    • Image library: a collection of royalty-free illustrations and photos and their rules of use.

      Lay the groundwork for long term success

      Designing or updating your brand identity is a colossal but essential job. This blog post gives you just a short overview of how to start the discussion and lay the groundwork for the process within your organization. There are also many guides on creating a brand identity online, but getting real guidance from professionals with years of experience in the nonprofit sector will save you time… and money. Indeed, benefiting from a strong brand, one that inspires confidence, will allow you to improve your relationships with all stakeholders, including donors, and thus increase your ability to hire more staff and provide better service to accomplish your mission.

      Talk about your branding projects with the Phil team today – we make the process a walk in the park!