Does your brand have a shelf-life?
You’ve changed your nonprofit’s logo, tagline, messaging, or other brand assets, and launched your new website. Huzzah! Your leadership is delighted. You’re exhausted. Can you cross “rebranding” off your to-do list once and for all?
What does “rebranding” really include?
For most organizations, rebranding starts with formal strategic planning, or the (sometimes more informal) vision of new leadership, when programs and other key aspects of the mission may shift or be reaffirmed. This, in turn, informs the organization’s brand strategy. Visuals and messaging assets may be updated, created, or adjusted to reflect the organization more effectively. Finally, all these assets are put into a brand guide, the people who use them are trained, and they get integrated into just about everything. Together with a clear understanding of audiences and desired outcomes, these new assets can be used to shape experiences (online and off) that help advance the mission. (At Big Duck, we developed a model called Brandraising you can check out here that visualizes all of this.)
Updating the logo, colors, or imagery on your website or other materials alone isn’t rebranding– it’s improving your visual assets. Rebranding is about changing perceptions.
How often should my organization rebrand?
As infrequently as possible.
Much like renovating a home, rebranding takes time, costs money, and is inconvenient while it’s underway. You’re probably going to be glad you did it– but you don’t want to go through it any more frequently than is necessary.
Your brand assets, just like your organization’s website, can benefit from regular updates and maintenance done iteratively. Consider conducting a brand check up (either informally, just with your team, or with pros like us) every time you’ve got a significant change in leadership, in programs, or in mission.
A brand check up should explore questions such as:
- Are we communicating effectively and cohesively?
- Are the perceptions people have about our organization accurate?
- Do external audiences engage with us in ways that advance our mission?
- Is our existing brand strategy still on track?
- Do our visuals, messaging, and other assets still reflect us accurately?
- Are we communicating in ways that align with our strategic plan and vision for the future?
If possible, supplement your brand check up by getting input from your staff, board, clients, donors, and others who know your work to add depth and dimension. Often, different people have different experiences of the organization — so this can surface useful perspectives you might not hear about otherwise.
Yeah… we need to make a few changes.
If you’re finding a lot of misalignment or there are aspects of your messaging or visual identity that are simply not useful anymore odds are good you’ll need to make some changes. Start by redefining or reaffirming your brand strategy. Next, adjust only the elements that really need change. Finally, package it all up in an easy to use brand guide and train your team.
This process can take weeks or months depending on how much input you solicit, how many conversations are necessary to create agreement, and how big the changes you agree on turn out to be.
But beware: don’t let boredom be the impetus for change. Often, external audiences are just beginning to understand you when you’re getting the itch to switch it up. Avoid the temptation to use an anniversary year or other milestone to change things just to scratch a creative itch.
Nah… we’re good!
Got what you need to shape perceptions, inspire engagement, and advance the mission? Great! Don’t change it. Instead, consider investing in practices that will help your brand stick throughout all corners of your organization — this ebook will help.