How consistent is your brand?
Your organization appears digitally, in print, and in person, so your identity needs to be flexible enough to work in those unique channels, but consistent enough that your audiences can quickly identify you among your peers. If you’re creating materials day in and day out for your organization, it might feel repetitive to you. But to your audiences, you are one among many, and the more familiar you become, the easier it is for them to engage with you and get behind your mission.
Here are a few things to consider when determining how flexible or consistent your nonprofit’s brand should be:
- Staff size. The number of hands you have on deck will affect the success of your brand expression. A small communications team may not have the resources to use and maintain a vast bank of visual elements to serve an entire organization, while a larger team will be able to implement a flexible system while keeping everything organized.
- Budget. If funds for your nonprofit’s communications are limited, keeping your brand as consistent as possible will be the best course of action. Determining a simple, streamlined visual system and brand architecture won’t strain slim resources, and creating a key set of materials with a long-shelf life will serve your brand (and budget) well.
- Audiences. The more audiences a nonprofit needs to communicate with, the more flexible or big picture its brand needs to be to accommodate all those messages. If you’re targeting prospective recruits, jump-starting conversations with donors, and relaying new opportunities to volunteers, you’ll need a flexible brand system to speak to everyone effectively.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are a couple successful examples of consistent and flexible nonprofit brands:
- Atlanta Community Food Bank employs a consistent brand because all of their audiences are aligned when it comes to their mission—ensuring all hungry people in Atlanta have the meals they need when they need them. Employing a more consistent brand system also helps build recognition in-person and in their community, as branded food trucks deliver meals across Atlanta and volunteers dole out branded swag at fund and food-raising events.
- JCC Manhattan has an in-house design team (and myriad audiences) to benefit from a flexible brand system. With hundreds of classes, programs, and events to market, JCC Manhattan uses a simple, but versatile visual system. Consistent typography and a strong diagonal line device help unify programs, while flexible use of color and photography aid in differentiating programs—allowing them to retain some individuality while keeping the master JCC Manhattan brand prominent. See for yourself!
Lastly, Big Duck recently published a free ebook about brand architecture that might help you think through how all of this relates to your programs, events, and other initiatives. You can download that here.