2 min Read
October 27, 2015

How to tell a complex nonprofit’s story in two minutes

We regularly hear compelling stories about individuals whose lives benefit from a nonprofit’s work, but rarely do we hear the institution’s story told well, too. Why does the organization exist? What problems is it solving? Why should I support it? For many nonprofits, answering these questions feels hard to do succinctly; it’s much easier to tell a micro-story than the bigger, institutional one.

And that’s where brandraising comes in. Much of what we do during the brandraising process involves helping organizations find simpler, clearer, more powerful ways to communicate.

We’ve written at length about how messaging and your brand guide—two products of brandraising—are a huge part of making that work come to life after the branding process, but we still hear lots of people asking what that looks like. Recently, we were thrilled to see a perfect example of branding elements put into action by our client, The Center for NYC Neighborhoods.

Broadly speaking, the Center’s mission is relatively straightforward—promoting and protecting affordable homeownership in New York—but with many different initiatives, programs, and partners that help homeowners all across the city (and, increasingly, the state, as well), it was tough to explain their work succinctly. After a stint working with Big Duck, they now tell their story exceptionally well – and in less time than it takes to brush your teeth.

Our work with the Center (or any organization, for that matter) was not a cosmetic process: we worked collaboratively to make sure that the Center’s new brand strategy, vision, mission, and values statements, messaging, and visuals all accurately projected the personality of the organization in order to help achieve its goals. At the end of the process, they had a comprehensive brand guide detailing their new messaging and visual framework that their staff, freelancers, and other agency partners could put to work practically.

And put it to work they have! Their website is updated with their new logo and look, and their staff are integrating the new messaging in all of their written and spoken communications.

The Center recently premiered a video about their work at their conference on “The Future of Affordable Homeownership in NYC,” which brought together several hundred of their partners who share the Center’s goal of keeping opportunities for homeownership within reach for middle- and working-class New York families. The video’s storyline boiled down their key messages to the essential information they wanted to communicate about their work. Working with a freelance animator, they developed a clip that was visually consistent with the brand. In less than two minutes, the video explains why their work is so important and inspires you to be a part of it. It’s clear, compelling, and very on-brand.

Best of all, scripting and producing the video wasn’t an onerous process, thanks to the key messages and design guidelines hammered out during the brandraising process. These are tools meant to set nonprofits up to create materials more easily—and the Center’s video shows just how handy those tools really are when put to use by such a savvy staff and others.

Wanna see it? Check out the video and read some of their messaging here. And let them know how fabulous they are on Facebook, please!