Nonprofit Performance 360 Issue 13
Performance P m e Nonprofit WHAT YOU NEED TO SUCCEED! Issue #13 Magazine 360
You, Your Business, Your Brand
Mark S A Smith
Three Tips To maximize nonprofiT direcT mail
If you’re a nonprofit, you know how critical direct mail is to fundraising. Here are three tips from the experts on how to maximize your efforts.
direct mail is the #1 motivator for donations.
Your house list is gold.
do more than ask for money.
W ith so many “free” marketing channels out there, it might be tempting to transition much of your fundraising to electronic media. However, direct mail remains the strongest, most effective way for nonprofits to solicit donations. According to YouGov 1 , 21% of people gave to a nonprofit last year because of a print solicitation. This is compared to 12% who gave through mass media, 6% through social media, and 10% through email. To keep donations flowing, don’t stop the direct mail!
T reated right, most people who donate to an organization will do so again. That’s why your house list is the most important list you have. Keep this list clean, up to date, and treat your donors like the most important people in the world — because they are. What about prospecting? Purchasing a relevant direct mail list is an important way to bring in new people who might be interested in your mission, but it will not be your primary source of donations. Prospecting helps to expand your donor base, but your house list is the primary source of your fundraising dollars.
W hen it comes to a person’s likelihood to donate, the most important factor is his or her personal connection to the organization. To increase donations, use direct mail to build real, lasting relationships with donors over time. • Make sure your donors understand your mission and where their money will be used. • Write to donors by name and personalize your messaging based on the specific areas or projects to which they have donated. • Provide pictures or stories about the specific ways their donations are being used. If people are donating to an ongoing project, keep them in the loop on the progress.
Print is the most effective way for nonprofits to solicit donations.
Treat your donors like the most important people in the world.
Make sure donors understand where their money will be used.
1 YouGov “Giving Report” (2013)
photography and illustrations ©iStock 2014.
People want to help, and they enjoy being part of efforts to do good for the world around them. Use direct mail to make them feel part of your mission, and they will open their wallets to continue to be part of it.
Performance m e SynerVision's Nonprofit Professional WHAT YOU NEED TO SUCCEED! Magazine
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Jeffrey Magee Co-Publisher Jeff@ProfessionalPerformanceMagazine.com Hugh Ballou Co-Publisher Hugh@SynerVisionLeadership.org Todd Greer Managing Editor Todd@SynerVisionLeadership.org Sandy Birkenmaier Acquisitions Editor Sandy@SynerVisionLeadership.org Claudia Hiatt Communications Manager Claudia@SynerVisionLeadership.org
Cynthia M. Adams
Daniel T. Ruke
Branding to Inspire Funders with Confidence
Craft a One Line Brand Message
Pipp I Patton
Branding in the Digital Age
Guiding Principles Must Come Before Branding
How to Build a Brand that People Love
Jawansa Hall 11 The Art of Storytelling in Branding
5 Steps to Successful Nonprofit Branding
Brand Strategy Development Framework
Branding It’s more than just a logo
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Branding and Brand Slaughter
Kendra Haskins What’s in a Name?
info@SynerVisionLeadership.org SynerVisionLeadership.org ProfessionalPerformanceMagazine.com
A Great Tagline Means Greater Success
Nonprofit Branding Makes a Difference
Culture is Brand Image
Point & Counterpoint
Dialogues on Leadership Issues
Top 3 Branding Mistakes to Stop Now
Mark S A Smith
Nonprofit Professional Performance Magazine and Professional Performance Magazine are quarterly magazines. Each is published as a digital subscription publication and as a hard copy edition. The views expressed in the ar- ticles and advertisements are those of the con- tributing writers and advertisers, and may not be the views of the management and staff of the publication. The magazine assumes no li- ability for the contributions in this magazine and all content is intended as developmental in nature. SynerVision is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organiza- tion, and this publication serves its mission.
Express Your Identity and Culture in Your Brand
Lynn B. Sanders
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© 2019 Professional Performance Magazine. All rights reserved
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Publisher’s Corner Branding has more influence on the organization’s impact than you might expect. Many perspectives and methodologies for branding are represented in this issue of Nonprofit Performance 360 Magazine . In remembering the quote from composer and conductor Ralph Vaughan Williams, “Music didn’t reveal all of its secrets to just one person,” we realize that the word music can be replaced with leadership and, in this case, we can replace it with branding . Many wise practitioners share their secrets in this issue. We strive to have diverse perspectives represented in each issue, and this one is no exception. We solicit comments and submissions for future issues. Submit your content request on our site at www.synervisionleadership.org/interview . To learn about the upcoming themes, go to the submissions page at www.synervisionleadership.org/submissions I encourage all nonprofit leaders to take branding seriously in order to attract the right people and the right amount of funding, and to allow you to fully implement the mission of the organization you lead. Enjoy!
The Official Guide to All Things Nonprofit Nonprofit Performance Magazine brings impact which spreads hope and direction to those who are changing their communities and the world. This magazine is a great resource for nonprofit executives and religious leaders. • Learn from key thought leaders who can assist you in propelling your organization to reach its potential • Read in-depth stories written by those who have found success at the front line of the social benefit journey • Learn about the impact of community, communication, and collaboration in your organization
Performance P o e Nonprofit WHAT YOU NEED TO SUCCEED! Issue #12 Magazine 360
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SynerVision’s Nonprofit Performance Magazine is an affiliated publication of ProfessionalPerformanceMagazine.com.
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Next Issue Highlights
The key steps in starting a new nonprofit. We’ll deal with topics such as steps commonly left out or minimized that compromise the result and the ability to attract sufficient funding, focusing on the key elements for a healthy start-up and understanding why each is critical, and on the fundamental resources for creating a strong enterprise. There will be articles about how founders start a new enterprise, lead the organization, and then turn over the organization for others to run (gasp!), thereby creating a legacy that will continue into the future. We will include articles from actual founders about their journey, as well as advice from those who support leaders and organizations. Join us in this journey.
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Receive Continuing Education Credits Let us know your organization’s name, and we will get you qualified for CEUs.
To register and for more information, visit npotransformation.com 888-398-8471
SynerVision Leadership .org I 7
CYNTHIA M. ADAMS
Branding to Inspire Funders with Confidence
Cynthia M. Adams interviewed Ara Beal of Storybook Foundry to get a sense of how branding and storytelling can influence grantmakers and build your nonprofit brand. Ara Beal is a theater professional and runs a small arts nonprofit. She is also the founder of StorybookFoundry,whichhelpsnonprofitsunify their concept around language and messaging. It’s about style, brand, tone, focus, and genre. www.storybookfoundry.com Cynthia: Hello, Ara.Thank you for talking with me about this idea of branding, and how storytelling can enhance this concept. Let’s start by letting our readers know a little bit about who you are, and what Storybook Foundry is all about. Ara: I have a background in theatre production, education, and arts administration. I’ve encountered lots of small nonprofits in these fields that are attempting to do really good work with very limited resources. I wanted to take the strategies I had developed and help these organizations maximize their impact. Storybook Foundry provides tools so that organizations can unify their voice. Having a board member write a press release? No problem, they’ll know what language and tone to use.Hiring a new marketing intern? They can easily see your visual brand and
get started. I compare our tools to boxed cake mix. Almost anyone can make a pretty tasty cake with Duncan Hines, even if you don’t consider yourself a professional baker. Cynthia: I know you’ve published a Branding Style Guide template. Can share your thinking behind this publication? Why did you feel compelled to write it? Ara: It comes from a personal experience I hadwhen,as a young nonprofit professional, I sent out an email that didn’t include any branding (wrong colors, wrong font, no logo) and I was pretty severely chastised in a meeting. When I started putting together Storybook Foundry’s tools, I wanted to be sure to include a template that someone without a marketing and design background could complete and use. If I had had access to my Branding Style Guide when I wrote that email all those years ago, it would have been much more effective. Part of our goal at Storybook Foundry is to help those nonprofit staff members who find themselves doing design, marketing, PR, and other work they were never trained to do. Instead of their doing some Googling and hoping for the best, we provide them with guidance without a lot of jargon.
Cynthia: You say in your guide that there are some basic rules about how an organization’s documents should look if you’re trying to build a brand. Can you share some of those rules with us? Ara: I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules (although I’m sure others think so), except that your documents should be consistent. One of the templates we offer is a collection of work samples . For some organizations, these are going to be fancy and glossy. For others, they might just be documents that are created in Word. And either is okay as long as there’s consistency. In theatre, we talk about conventions: shortcuts that help your audience understand the theatre experience. For example, when the lights go down, you know the show is going to start. You know you are supposed to ignore the people in black moving scenery around. Branding is setting conventions. That’s all. You can make up whatever rules you want; you just have to follow them. Cynthia: So these conventions are used to help folks visually recognize who you are, and I totally understand that. It is something many nonprofits have done for ages. But branding, per se, seems to have moved up on the list of issues a nonprofit should be thinking about. It makes me sort of nervous.
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Ara: A lot of nonprofit people get nervous around the word branding. Maybe it seems too corporate, so there’s a sense that you are manipulating people. But branding is just a shortcut to help people know who you are. If you work with kids, your colors and fonts are likely to be more whimsical. If you work with survivors of domestic violence, your colors and fonts will probably be more serious, but also hopeful. Part of branding is choosing elements that fit with your mission. But the other side of it is that once people know your brand, it gives them a faster recognition when they see your materials. If there’s a table of brochures, they’ll reach for yours because they see familiar elements. And the other benefit of consistent branding is that it actually reduces the amount of work it takes to create documents, content, and other material. It’s so easy to have your logo saved accessibly on your desktop so that you can plop it into anything. If you create a series of graphics, it’s a simple process to move those between documents. And if you identify the words that you want to use, and those you don’t, you can write a quick press release without thinking about it too much. Cynthia: In your opinion, Ara, how does all of this fit into grantseeking? Ara: There are two sides to this: we can look at it from the grantee’s point of view as well as the grantor’s. I know that when I review grant applications (which I do for the Ohio Arts Council, as well as our local arts council, CultureWorks), I consider which organizations are going to be able to multiply the impact of awarded funds. And part of that is messaging. There are the obvious things like, can they manage to put the grantor’s logo on their printed materials, but also can the organization communicate clearly what they are doing – both with words and with visuals? If a grant application has clear and consistent language, grantors feel more comfortable that their awards will be used successfully. Again, this doesn’t have to be fancy. I don’t care if an organization has a black and white logo that was hand drawn, or one that was designed by an expensive marketing firm. But I do care that they have a logo, and that
they are using it consistently with their other messaging. Cynthia: And from the grantee’s perspective? Ara: This is the grantwriter’s side.Whether you are writing the grants in-house or hiring someone outside your organization, the clearer your sense of branding, the easier it is to compile the application. When I work with organizations writing grants, I always build up a nice collection of work samples, which are easy for me to attach to grants without going hunting.We all know that grant requests often include answering the same questions in slightly different ways, and if you know that you run an immersion program instead of a summer camp, or a nature preserve instead of a park, those words can guide more efficient answers. This takes us to a third way branding affects grantseeking: grant reviewers read a lot of applications. Frankly, they are going to better remember applications with clearer messaging and consistent visuals. There’s a reason your two-year-old recognizes McDonald’s when you drive by; it ties into the way our brains work. If you can have clear, concise messaging in your grant request (which becomes extra fun when you have to work in word/character limits), your application is less likely to get lost in Ara: If you really want to strengthen your application in comparison to others in the pool, make sure your branding includes some way to set you apart from other similar organizations. Cynthia Adams, President and CEO of GrantStation, has spent the past 40 years helping nonprofits raise the money needed for their good work. GrantStation exists because grantseeking requires a thorough understanding of the variety and scope of grantmakers and sound knowledge of the philanthropic playing field. Her life’s work is to level that playing field, creating an opportunity for all nonprofit organizations to access the wealth of grant opportunities across the U.S. and the brain of the reviewers. Cynthia: Any final tips, Ara?
Orchestrating Success Passion to Profit
Hugh Ballou’s podcast sessions redefine leadership as the pathway to income. If your organization isn’t generating the income to fully support the work to achieve its mission, then it’s time to work on your ability to attract results.
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throughout the world. www.grantstation.com
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ROBERTA GILBERT Systems Thinking
Guiding Principles Must Come Before Branding
What is a Brand? I think of a brand as a few catchy, quick words that can be ascribed to a person, thing, place, or group in order to bring it or them to mind easily. It must have been invented by the marketing profession. High-level (more emotionally mature) persons do not pigeonhole themselves into categories like brands, except for special purposes, such as selling a product or service.The closest they would otherwise come to branding would be in defining I’ve written two articles in Nonprofit Performance Magazine [see Issues #1 and 2] on guiding principles. Briefly, guiding principles are well thought-through ideas that one considers important enough for living life to utilize them over a substantial amount of time. One wrestles with them enough to get as many of one’s questions answered as possible. They are not set in concrete. They remain guiding principles only until new and convincing information arises to modify or destroy them. We all have principles that guide us in life. Some of us - low-level or emotionally immature people - live by what others teach, what we see in print, or what the last person we talked with believed. High-level people don’t take anything for granted. They think everything through and they stay with it until they get some answers: answers that make sense and are logically consistent. their Guiding Principles for life. What are Guiding Principles?
How Do Guiding Principles Operate for a Life? In high-level people, these principles operate to guide everything one says, thinks, or does. The higher level the person, the more they operate in him or her. There are degrees of this, just as there are degrees of emotional maturity (differentiation) in all of us. In the world in which we all operate, sometimes a brand or catchy phrase is needed to help people remember what we or our product is about. If a brand or a quick phrase is needed in order to promote a service or a product, the guiding principles operate to define, create, or birth the brand that is needed. But Guiding Principles Must Come First Guiding principles are the bedrock for a life well-lived. That is why they are called guiding principles. And they must come first. They must come before the brand.That way, the brand will be consistent with what the person, organization, or product is all about. Some organizations have had wonderful meetings hammering out their guiding principles. Some people work on them while they sit in waiting rooms. I invite anyone reading this to start on writing guiding principles, and see if life does not become somewhat more meaningful as a result! Dr. Roberta Gilbert is the author of a trilogy of books on leadership: Extraordinary Leadership , The Eight Concepts , and The Cornerstone Concept . She is the founding director of The Extraordinary Leadership Seminar. email@example.com
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The Art of Storytelling in Branding
the forerunner for news and entertainment, brand engagement has become the new marketing battleground. In less than 280 characters, the ability for consumers to build, destroy, and interact with brands has reshaped the standards by which business is done. So if you want to truly compete, become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Do not grow complacent in the identity of your brand. You may have to learn a new language, or hire a social media manager and content creators. Whatever is needed, be willing to rise to the challenge and tell the story along the way. Do not rely on old tactics and the if-it-ain’t-broke engagement method. Be willing to bring value to consumers before a purchase is made. After all, the miniature fingerprints left behind will be tomorrow’s brand ambassadors. Jawansa Hall is the creative director and owner of Blackwater Branding, an advertising and branding agency located in Lynchburg, Virginia. Awarded the 2018 Marketing Agency of the Year by the readers of the Lynchburg News & Advance, he has helped some of Lynchburg’s most respectable businesses redefine their brands. www.blackwaterbranding.net
Lately I’ve found myself cleaning miniature fingerprints from the television screen. Though it did not take long to figure out that the prints and streaks belonged to my three year old, it wasn’t until I caught her in the act that I realized her logic. From playing various puzzles on my tablet, she’d begun to associate swiping with monitors and screens.To her, the television was just a much larger iPad.To her, a flat panel screen equates the need for interactivity. Her actions reveal a much deeper message that every business owner or nonprofit leader should understand: there is a new normal when dealing with today’s consumer. No longer can we simply buy a billboard or post an ad in a newspaper. Due to social media, the new consumer wants to experience consistent brand engagement. Without a clear strategy pinpointing your brand’s voice, purpose, and story, you are building a wall between great ideas and 75% of the global workforce: The Millennial. By 2020, one in three Americans will be Millennials.This sobering truth means that businesses would be well-served to take note of their priorities and personal beliefs. As a brand developer, the biggest advice I continuously share is the importance of
clarity within your brand’s story. We are constantly deciding on what to drive, wear, eat, and interact with. Do not wait for another demographic or business to decide who you are. Make sure that the story you want to tell gets told, and that there is a belief system attached to it. Before you decide on Pantone colors, creative logo design, or a fun catch phrase, put your energy into controlling the narrative. With that being said, if your logo or color plays a commanding role within your brand, please include these components inside the story. More than anything else, what matters to every consumer is the feeling that you are given in the presence of the brand. Begin to view your brand not as a monetary transaction or just a service provided, but as a living/breathing person. If your brand had friends, what would they be like? Where would they hang out? What are their values? How do they talk to one another? Do they speak like scholars, or swear like sailors? Each component is helping to shape the narrative of who you are and why you matter. To the online consumer, what you do does not matter as much as why you choose to do it. With social media being
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STEVEN PICANZA Academic Desk
5 Steps to Successful Nonprofit Branding
If you don’t have your nonprofit organization’s brand buttoned up, you’ll miss out on both precious donation dollars and the opportunity to make a bigger impact. Most nonprofits have a hard time articulating their brand promise in a clear and concise manner.Because of this, they become inconsistent with how they talk about themselves in their sales and marketing materials, and throughout their look and feel, online and offline. It can sometimes become a case study on how not to brand and market your organization. This creates challenges with selling your brand to people who have never heard about your organization before. But don’t fear: by understanding where your brand is lacking, you can fix it. By taking an audit of your brand, you can start to lay out your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Once you understand where you’re winning and losing, you can start putting together strategies that will propel and streamline your organization’s marketing and fundraising process. Whether you have a for-profit or a nonprofit business, the principles of branding stay the same. Branding, at its finest, is how your customers feel when they think about your brand name, service, or product. You must always align your brand message with the main problem you’re solving and, even more
importantly, you must learn how to clearly and concisely communicate and articulate that message at every touchpoint, online and offline, whether speaking publicly or writing an email. Here are five surefire ways to create a proactive brand strategy for your nonprofit. 1. Do the Research Your nonprofit organization has a purpose and a mission, and you understand them intimately. But what about your donors and patrons? Do they know your purpose and mission as intimately as you do? Have they bought into your mission? While your organization’s purpose is centered around the good you are doing, your brand must also sell the mission to the people who will be helping to fund the organization. When we are working on a brand strategy for a nonprofit organization, our framework always starts with research, because it’s 100% critical to the success of your organization to understand how to market effectively to your core audience. Besides understanding who you’re serving, you also need to understand who your donors are and what are they looking for in an organization, as well as trying to understand the socioeconomic and political arena in which you operate. 2. Focus on the Message Before anything else, ensure that your organization knows its pitch, as it’s the most important part of
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delivering your brand mission. If you are not able to state the problem you solve, how you solve it, and what the solution is, clearly and concisely, then you’re losing your audience at the first touch. So much of your work is ensuring that your organization understands how to clearly sell itself without losing your audience, ensuring that, beyond the inspiring mission and aspirational vision, your core values have been set in stone and the brand voice and tone are reaching the right people. When you know what problem you’re solving for whom, only then can you put your sales and marketing into practice. Done right, your messaging will translate easily into sales and marketing copy for all your organization’s materials.This will give you content for your website, brochures, donation packets, media kits, etc., and will be easy for daily use. Done wrong, you’ll find consistent frustra- tion. 3. Keep Your Brand and Marketing Simple and Organized Since there are thousands of touchpoints where the end-user can interact with your nonprofit organization, it’s important to keep tabs on the messaging and marketing you’re putting out. Keeping up with your brand messaging can be daunting if you don’t go through a brand exercise with the right agency or consultant to help write your brand guidelines and framework. But once you do, it’s simple to refer back to it over and over again. This is a life saver as it ensures that you’re not pulling your hair out trying to stay up with everything, and reinventing the wheel again and again.
This includes your website, which is now a combination of your storefront, fundraising team, suggestion box, newspaper, and review forum. Keep it clean and focused on only the most important information. It’s also imperative to ensure that the web experience you give off is consistent across all of your social media sites. A trick we use for every client we consult is creating a cloud-based custom brand framework. This not only houses all their brand messaging and usage guides, but also their marketing strategy, plans, templates, and assets, which ensures you aren’t looking in a thousand different places for a thousand different things. 4. Educate and Empower Your Staff The hardest part in scaling any type of organization is ensuring that the brand and culture scale accordingly. When your organization begins to grow, the brand often begins to fray as individuals insert their own narrative and, like a rogue sales team in a B2B setting, it becomes a free- for-all where the brand standards and framework are used less and less, favored for a more reactive, yet limiting, approach. This can be reversed only if it is caught early enough. But it can also be a non- issue. With educating your staff and staying extremely proactive, you can foster a culture of brand champions, as opposed to a culture of brand ego. As a fun exercise, empower your team by keeping your core messaging printed out and quiz people regularly. If they pass and nail it, reward them.You’ll be amazed at the quick progress and how those statements will be woven into the everyday brand narrative.
5. Check In Regularly Like fashion, your brand is never finished. It’s a repeatable cycle that must be nurtured and, at times, be put back on its track. With our clients, we have quarterly or, at the very least, semi-annual brand check- ins where we perform an audit on all your brand touchpoints to ensure we’re still as optimized as possible. By doing so, we’re able to course-correct based on data and changing perceptions while, at the same time, keeping abreast of changing marketing trends. This also becomes a great opportunity to rally the extended team and focus on culture and team building, because the brand becomes successful when everyone internally has a pulse on the strategy and believes in the core values and purpose. When you decide to work on setting a framework for your brand, it can seem like a daunting endeavor, usually right from the very first question of where to start. As with anything, take it one step at a time and find great mentors. Once you have your brand dialed in, you can start on the fun part: marketing and growing your organization. Steven Picanza is an award-winning global brand strategist and educator, running a brand + marketing consultancy with his wife, with a core purpose centered on helping businesses and organizations make smarter branding and marketing decisions. In addition to his Executive Board seat with the San Diego Entertainment & Arts Guild, a nonprofit organization he helped found in 2009, Steven is an adjunct instructor at Drexel University in Philadelphia and a yearly guest instructor at The European Institute of Design in Milan, Italy. See how he can help you at latinandcode.com .
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Branding It’s More Than a Logo
So you’ve got a logo. Now what? Your organization needs a living, breathing brand. Branding encompasses everything that people should know about your organization. It includes your elevator pitches, your job titles and workplace jargon, your values and, yes, your logo, too. A well-branded organization is intentional with every detail, down to the colors used in their logo and space. Your organization’s brand is your organization’s essence. More than a Feeling Before you begin building the brand, it’s important to know your organization’s values, as well as the larger cultural conversations regarding organizations like yours. Ultimately, your brand is the dance between your organization’s internal intentions and external perception. Branding is more than a feeling, if you will. When it comes to social media, there are a million ways to communicate your brand. The colors you use in photos and graphics can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. Blues and cool colors can soothe your audience and inspire loyalty, while red and warm tones can motivate your audience to action and instill confidence. Read up on color psychology and choose your color scheme wisely.
Intentionality & Integrity Beyond visual cues, the words you use to describe your work can communicate nuances without much explanation. For example, a church can be described as traditional or inclusive; the nuance between the two communicates extensive ideas about its theology and culture. It’s important to choose your keywords with much diligence. Your brand is meant to guide how the public talks about your organization. And the greatest threat to brand loyalty? A lack of integrity. Let’s say a big part of your brand is embracing diversity. Without 100% buy-in from 100% of your stakeholders, it won’t be long before your brand has a hole or two poked in it. Brand integrity is non- negotiable, and if you’ve used your core values and mission as a brand-building guide, then making brand integrity the number one priority is a no-brainer. Your organization’s brand is its personality, so it’s important to show who your organization really is. Is it an expert? Present your facts and flex those muscles. Is it youthful? Show that it can have fun and be relevant. Every click on your
organization’s website, glance at a billboard, or conversation with a stakeholder is the public’s first date with your organization. Choose your outfit wisely. No Days Off Sure, a logo is important, but it’s a tiny fraction of your organization’s overall brand. Choose colors, titles, and Instagram handles wisely, because a brand is not an act or charade. It is the essence and personality of your organization. It is present in both internal and external endeavors, and it matters to both stakeholders and the general public. Branding is more than a logo, but if you’ve got that much, then you’ve got something. Now, ask your board: Who are we? And, let the answers guide you. Katie Allred is the assistant professor of software development and digital media at the University of Mobile (Alabama). She also facilitates a student-run marketing agency, GoodWorkAgency.org , which offers branding, web design, and social media marketing for churches, nonprofits, and small businesses. In her free time, Katie is a community leader in the church and teaches about marketing through ChurchCommunications.com .
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What’s in a Name?
Branding can be defined as a promise you make to your constituents: what they can expect from working with you. It’s the complete experience people get when they engage with your organization. Before someone can experience your promise, however, they have to meet you. With first impressions, a person can leap quickly to conclusions, and those conclusions can stick. Almost 20 years before my current position, I was a volunteer, as well as the child of a long-time volunteer, with a local America’s Junior Miss program. I grew up steeped in the history and positive mission of the program, knowing its brand from close as- sociation and from tens of thousands of alumnae, volunteers, and supporters who shared my love for the organization. But a brand doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Al- though the mission of America’s Junior Miss (to empower young women to reach their full potential through a free program of workshops and the offering of hundreds of millions of dollars in college scholarships) was known by those close to the organiza- tion, the outside world could not get past our name. It seemed antiquated to our young target audience. For decades, applications declined and the volunteer base shrank. Although your name should not define your brand, it is a prominent part of your story. It was time for us to find a name that created a first impression focusing on the impactful work we do for young women, not a name that people assumed was a beauty pageant. So in 2006, the organization began to ex- plore a name change, not easy to do with
ing this process, the organization opened communication flow in both directions. In any large-scale organizational change, you’ll need long-term sup- port, enthusiasm, and commitment from your entire organization. Let your base be a valuable part of the project. Be prepared to listen and accept opinions that differ from the direction your leadership may want to go. Although there will always be members who do not agree with changes, making sure everyone is part of the process allows the community to come together and sup- port the eventual change. It took several years to arrive at our new name, Distinguished Young Women. The new moniker better tells the story of the organization’s mission and the outstanding students we are trying to engage, impact, and inspire. When a new manual with the brand story and supporting materials was released, the engaged community embraced the changes and began living the new name and brand in the everyday operation of the organization. By spending time on the process and gaining buy-in from the entire community, our culture has been transformed into one that values branding and communications like never before. Kendra Haskins has served as the Executive Director of the Distinguished Young Women Foundation since 2017. She previously owned a design, marketing, and branding studio with an emphasis on small business development. She serves on the steering committee of the FOCUS Women’s Conference; her mission is to see women of all ages be successful in their personal and professional lives. www.distinguishedyw.org
50+ years of history. How do you change a part of your organization that genera- tions of alumnae, volunteers, and support- ers identify with? The leadership engaged all the stakeholders in the name change, so they would buy into the change and be- come advocates for the new brand message and platform. The leadership must create buy-in from top-level management and sponsors, si- multaneous with grass roots support and enthusiasm, to establish commitment to living the brand throughout the organiza- tion. To do this, the leadership must listen to the internal audiences and use what is learned to prioritize, gain support, create brand ambassadors, and build a sustainable branding effort through ongoing commu- nications. Our first step was education of all stake- holders. The leadership shared the public perception issues with the old name, the thoughts behind how a name change was a positive step forward, and how the name change would be rolled out. Constituents also needed to understand how new chang- es or concepts would affect them person- ally. Multiple communications included a series of open phone calls over the course of almost 18 months that allowed volunteers and supporters to hear the reasoning. Dur-
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Nonprofit Branding Makes a Difference
Effective fundraising, unified internal culture, clear community perception,strong leadership: these are all mission-critical for nonprofits, just as they are for any organization. And they are all affected by branding. Big business across the country spends billions on branding. Why? Because it enhances everything else they do. With that in mind, a strong brand is just as vital to nonprofits as for-profit businesses, arguably more so, when efficiency and effectiveness with their resources are so important. What is branding and why does it matter to the nonprofit organization? What is a Brand? While many try to define brand with mixed success, one of my favorite definitions comes from Marty Neumeier’s The Dictionary of Brand, which defines it as a person’s perception of a product, service, experience, or organization. Your brand is simply the physiological association your audience has with your organization. At its very core, who is your organization?What does it stand for and what is its personality? What makes it relatable and how is it unique?
A strong brand knows its vision, mission, promise, core values, and characterization. It is defined in a meaningful and purposeful way to relate to the target audience. All of these things are then represented by its logo, colors, and fancy graphics, which are the visual aspects of the brand. A strong brand allows the organization to be consistent and speak a more powerful message to the right audience again and again. It builds a strong culture. It leaves the impression and perception upon the community that was intended. It provides organizational direction, strategy, and guidance for leadership. It’s so much more than a logo. Why Does Branding Matter for Nonprofits? Fundraising, Volunteers and Awareness Some lean more towards one or more of these than others, but these three are key goals for every nonprofit we have worked with. All three require some form of marketing and advertising, a way to get the word out and rally support in the form of donations, volunteers, or just simple public awareness of the cause. This comes as websites, brochures, flyers, direct mail, social media, print ads, radio ads, etc.
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We live in a noisy and busy digital world. The average American is exposed to thousands of messages every day, and most of it becomes just noise.Big business spends billions pushing messages and brands above that noise, desperately working to say something different, to earn a small sliver of the shorter and shorter attention spans available. Developing a strong brand to them is about being more effective with the resources at hand. And it is no different for nonprofits. They are competing for the same short attention spans, working hard to appeal to those who can aid them in their cause. Volunteers, donors, and strategic partners are their audiences.With limited resources, how can the nonprofit be as effective as possible? Just like any big commercial brand, the nonprofit has a story to tell and, the more consistent and convincing that story, the more successfully it can accomplish its goals. It doesn’t matter that those goals are donations, volunteers, and awareness, rather than sales. We recently worked with a local nonprofit with a goal of an appeal to replace a labor- intensive $60,000 fundraising event. We suggested we first refine their brand, creating a consistent message on their website, social media platforms, and print media. We then launched an appeal that told that story via email, social media, and direct mail in a concerted effort. This single campaign raised over $70,000 and successfully replaced their annual event! Branding can absolutely move the needle when it comes to fundraising, connecting with volunteers, and driving awareness, by helping any marketing efforts cut through the noise. Organizational Culture There’s no denying that the culture within an organization can make or break that organization. How the staff, volunteers, and donors see the organization, and how they interact with each other and the community is absolutely critical. Most organizational cultures form organically, coming about by direct influence of the founder or director and the leadership, though much of it is left to chance based on the personalities of those who become involved.
Developing a strong brand with defining core values, a clear mission, and a brand vision and promise,provides a guide for that culture to reference. If all the stakeholders (leadership, board, staff, volunteers, and donors) know what defines the brand, a culture can be developed on purpose rather than by chance. For example, at Rock Paper Simple we have key core values that we build our culture around. The core value Integrity provides the team with an understanding that doing the right thing for our clients is paramount. Fun encourages the team to see that work at our office should be something we all enjoy (yes, we have nerf battles here!). Community encourages our involvement in making our community a better place to live, work, and play. Growth, Simplicity, and Teamwork speak to other areas that are vital in the culture we want to have here. Our core values and the value statements that go with them are on our website. Long-lasting organizations with strong cultures draw upon their brand for that inspiration. Community Perception How the community perceives any organization can greatly impact its success and effectiveness.This is true of for-profits just as much as the nonprofit. It can mean the difference between a community rallying around a cause and one that barely notices it exists. One of our team’s favorite events is our Galactic Fundraiser. We launched it in 2017 to coincide with the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and partnered with a local nonprofit. Their brand was already very strong with a clear message, and the community loved them. We have established a brand perception for Rock Paper Simple also as being fun and very involved in our community. All we had to do was market a fun evening that promised Star Wars activities, food, drinks, raffles, door prizes, silent auctions, and a private showing of the movie at the theatre, all to benefit a great cause! Promoting that event was a breeze, and we raised thousands for hungry children in our community, on top of all the fresh exposure.
It was the power of community perception. People knew exactly what the nonprofit did and why they did it, and both brands tapped into a following for an event that was put together on very short notice! Leadership The leader of every organization has a huge responsibility. Among so many tasks and expectations, they are looked to for strategic decisions and planning, correction and encouragement of staff and volunteers, public speaking, and the presentation and stewardship of the organization to all stakeholders. All of these areas are influenced by having a strong sense of identity, mission, purpose, and core values. They provide consistency and stability in a long-lasting meaningful way, allowing decisions to be based on principles and guidelines set within the brand. During one of the early years of our agency, one of my TeamMembers (we don’t use the word employee here) asked me if he could do something of questionable ethics online to a competitor that had done something clearly wrong to one of our clients. I was able to respond with a simple question: “What are our core values?” and the response was, “Oh yeah. Integrity!” He had his answer. As a leader, it was a joy to later watch Team Members make decisions (or not) based on principles they knew were Branding isn’t just for big business. It truly has a clear and measurable impact on nonprofits and how they fundraise, generate awareness, develop their culture, cultivate community perception, and lead their organizations. I have seen a strong brand affect so many organizations, both for-profit and nonprofit. I look forward to hearing the stories of how branding has helped yours make an impact! Joshua Adams is the Head Honcho at digital marketing agency Rock Paper Simple, with a team of 14 that has served over 750 clients. He currently serves on the boards of four nonprofits, and served as a youth pastor for three years prior to his career in marketing. He lives to empower talented people and dedicates his work in every endeavor to the glory of God. www.rockpapersimple.com true to our brand. Making an Impact
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Culture is Brand Image
A strong organization has a unique value proposition that distinguishes it from any other organization. This is the core of the brand for the organization. This is a magnet for attracting like-minded people to rally around a common purpose. The brand is differentiation for the organization, and the culture either represents the brand or kills the brand image. We read about how successful companies build a high-performing culture. One that immediately comes to mind for many people is Southwest Airlines.They hire for attitude and train for skill. The corporate culture sets them apart from other airlines. Rise Against Hunger, the nonprofit organization featured in Issue #11 of Nonprofit Performance Magazine , is also known for its high-performing cultures, both internally and externally. They have about 140 paid staff members around the US, and thousands of people who volunteer for projects. When a group of volunteers comes together to pack 10,000 meals, or more, it’s a social gathering in which people enjoy serving others. The culture of having fun while serving is a part of how they build continuing success. One could say the same for Habit for Humanity and other similar organizations. The culture is the brand. When employees of United Airlines acted badly, there was incredible damage done to the brand of that company. It was a form of the Brand Slaughter shared in this issue by David Corbin. People acting badly highlight the brand and kill the brand. Leadership makes the difference. Leadership is a skill and a culture. In order to create this brand differentia- tion, we can learn from the work of Mur- ray Bowen, founder of the Bowen Center
If the leader over-functions, then the teammembers under-function. If the team isn’t clear on principles, then there’s a danger of making decisions in a process called groupthink, in which everybody concedes to the wishes of others. The danger to the brand is that flawed decisions create flawed results, thereby compromising the organization’s work and reputation. Here’s the process for creating various versions of Guiding Principles: 1. The leader defines personal guiding principles. 2. The leader creates the first set of organizational guiding principles. 3. The leader checks for conflict between the two sets of principles. 4. The board reviews and updates the organizational principles. 5. The board defines principles for the board that support the organization’s principles. 6. The board reviews and reflects on one principle at each board meeting and revises it as needed, or corrects actions and processes as needed. The integrity of the brand is in its implementation at every level, beginning with the leader. Leadership is, first and foremost, influence. Authenticity and integrity are embedded at every level of the organization as a part of the brand. Hugh Ballou is a Transformational Leadership Strategist and the President of SynerVision Leadership Founda- tion. A musical conductor for forty years, Hugh has writ- ten eight books on Transformational Leadership, and works with leaders in religious organizations and busi- ness and nonprofit communities as executive coach, process facilitator, trainer, and motivational speaker, teaching leaders the fine-tuned skills employed every
at Georgetown University. Leaders create what he called Differentiation of Self by defining guiding principles for themselves. Effective leaders make principle-based de- cisions, not emotional decisions. There’s a parallel to the personal differentiation of self with organizational differentiation. Our brand is key to that differentiation; however, the people in the organization must be fully aligned with the organiza- tional principles in order to fully represent the brand. Guiding principles in Bowen Systems thinking are built on core values and are statements guiding decision-making. If ev- eryone is aligned with the carefully articu- lated principles, and the leader is actively supporting the employment of the prin- ciples in every decision and action, then there’s a synergy created with this com- mon vision.That’s what SynerVision® is all about. In order to have a consistently high- functioning culture, it’s crucial that the leader be high functioning. The culture is a reflection of the leader. If the leader is not clearly differentiated, then that lack of clarity spreads to the culture. There’s a cause and effect here somewhat similar to Napoleon Hill’s Laws of Cause and Effect and of Reciprocity.
day by orchestral conductors. www.SynerVisionLeadership.org
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