Three core ingredients that will help you ensure your new brand sticks
Have you ever invested a bunch of time and energy in a project but the work just didn’t stick? Take, for example, strategic planning. After months of deep thinking and hard work, it’s a shame when good work ends up sitting on the shelf in a binder, not actually getting implemented. There are few things more frustrating—and unfortunately commonplace—in the nonprofit world, when every day and dollar counts.
When it comes to building a strong nonprofit brand—the type of brand that has equity, that stands out, and that inspires support—the work must take hold internally.
Like the roots of a tree, the deeper and more established they are, the stronger and higher the branches and leaves can grow. If staff are not aligned internally or equipped with the right internal resources, chances are they will hit big roadblocks when trying to communicate externally, diminishing the consistency and expression of the new brand.
Here are three core ingredients to help you build an enduring nonprofit brand that sticks—from the inside out.
1) Brand team.
Building and maintaining a strong nonprofit brand takes a village. Bringing the right people into the process and establishing their ownership of the new brand is integral to getting the work right and ensuring it sticks long-term. Staff, leadership, and other key stakeholders should be tasked with clear assignments and responsibilities, ideally from the very start of the rebranding process. Brand trainings and clear protocols for using the brand can help, and clear accountability post-launch. Trying to form the right brand team? Take a look at this blog post I wrote a few months back about getting through a rebrand with the right people on board. (Sarah also has some practical tips for engaging Boards in branding efforts.)
2) Brand tools.
Your team also needs the right tools for your brand to stick. This starts with the development of a brand strategy, then the brand assets including a strong visual system and messaging platform. Take a look at Sarah’s primer on the elements that make up your brand and how to create a winning brand strategy. Translate those assets into accessible tools that your team can easily use and apply in their day-to-day work to make it easy to use for staff. This is where a great brand guide is useful, as well as an awesome image bank of pre-approved photography that helps tell your story visually, easy-to-use templates, boilerplate copy, elevator pitch, and other resources that staff, board, and other stakeholders can use to stay on-brand in their work.
3) Brand culture.
For a brand to stick, staff must believe in the relevance and power of branding as a strategy for nonprofits, and their own role in maintaining it. Without this fundamental belief in place, the work will struggle to take hold. Thoughtful stakeholder engagement during a rebrand process, followed by brand education and trainings post-launch, should be part of the equation. Consider a series of informal lunch-and-learn sessions in your conference room on the topic of communications. Circulate articles in advance like the ones we’ve referenced above, or consider watching a pre-recorded webinar like this one to jumpstart the conversation.
Before embarking on your next big project—whether it is a branding initiative, communications strategy, or beyond—think through your plan for getting your efforts to stick. Your organization will need these three key ingredients: a brand team, brand tools, and a brand culture to make sure your rebrand truly takes root and endures.