How do I get started with a branding project?

Brand begins with your organization’s culture, including the people. It is then represented in the visual appearance, language, and activities of your organization. But the big question is, where do you even begin?

Written BY

Sarah Obenauer

Sarah is the Co-founder of Purpose Craft. She runs Make a Mark, 12-hour design and development marathons benefitting local humanitarian causes. She also publishes Limitless, built to create a community of women surviving and thriving with Rheumatoid Arthritis. She has been working with nonprofits and purpose-driven organizations and businesses for nearly a decade.

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June 25, 2020

Whether you’re an entirely new effort still determining your brand, a century old organization looking for a refresh, or somewhere in between, curating a meaningful brand is part of telling your story.

Many people view brand as just the external, visual appearance, but brand is much more than that. In fact, it is less of a brand that you build, and more of your organization’s essence, your purpose, and your reason for being that is reflected to the world.

Brand begins with your organization’s culture, including the people. It is then represented in the visual appearance, language, and activities of your organization.

But the big question is, where do you even begin?

Getting started

As you start the adventure of crafting a brand for your organization there are items to carefully consider.

Ensure alignment

Before taking the first step in your branding or rebranding process, make sure those who need to approve of it are aligned from the beginning. This might be a supervisor, your board, or any number of stakeholders. Without their alignment and approval, your newly crafted brand will sit on a shelf collecting dust. To do this, you may need to show the real merit and value of this branding process, and that the value outweighs the time and monetary commitment.

Explain the process

Chances are you are part of a team, whether it is a team of two, ten, one hundred, or one thousand. Not only do you need alignment from your boss, your board, and those leading your organization, you want your employees and coworkers excited and willing to implement this new brand in their work.

By explaining the process in advance, you allow for questions and concerns to surface. You are showing them that you care about their role in the organization and want them to be part of it.

Include others

Don’t just explain the process, include others in it. Pull in the right people at the right times. This input from members of your organization provides an even better understanding and baseline for who you truly are today. When you are landing on new language or logo, reach out to members of your audience who will provide authentic feedback. Don’t be afraid to show what you’re working on to employees and audience members early. Their thoughts and perspectives are invaluable.

Be true to self

During this process, keep your purpose in mind. Don’t feel like you should waver to meet outside expectations or compete with today’s trends. If you find yourself getting lost along the way or feeling overwhelmed, go back to your founding story and center yourself on your why.

These numbers don’t lie

Big Duck conducted an online survey with 350 nonprofit decision-makers to find out more about the effects of rebranding.

They found that rebranding has a direct and significant impact on these organizations. You can access the full report here.

You don’t have to wait for results

44% of nonprofits surveyed said that they had completed branding in the last two years and have already seen measurable results.

Increased revenue

+ From the surveyed nonprofits, 50% reported revenue growth.

+ 49% reported an increase in revenue from individual donors.

+ 29% reported an increase in revenue from corporate donors.

+ 28% reported an increase in revenue from foundation grants.

Stronger internal culture, capacity

+ 58% of surveyed nonprofits report that they have more confidence in staff’s ability to represent the organization.

+ 42% report producing materials more efficiently.

+ 33% say they recruit better board members.

Building your team

You are starting your branding process and you want a team on board to help contribute. You don’t want to include everyone on your staff and board, but you want to make sure every group of stakeholders feel represented. But where do you start? How do you build a branding team that will actually contribute to the branding efforts, and not detract from it?

Staff

If you are a small staff (five or fewer employees), you should consider including everyone in the process. This brand will be intimately affecting each staff member.

If you a small to mid-size organization (10–100 employees), consider selecting a leader from each department or area of expertise.

If you are large organization (over 100 employees), select a few executives and members of your communication team.

Board members

You may need the approval of your entire board to move forward, but consider selecting just two or three board members to be actively involved. Start by asking for volunteers, these people will be the most invested. If there are too many volunteers, narrow it down to those who best represent the organization and/or have an understanding of the communication field.

Don’t have a board? Reach out to some of your most loyal volunteers.

Audience members

In your experiences, you likely have audience members that you are close with, maybe these are people that you have served in the past. Consider including one or two audience members to your branding team to provide a unique, outside perspective.

Further Reading
Defining brand character
Determining your brand character and putting into action is incredibly exciting and invigorating for everyone invested in your organization.
August 5, 2020
10 tips on scaling your side gig while maintaining quality
In 2017, after over two years of spending nights, weekends, and even lunch breaks on my side gig, I finally went full time.
July 29, 2020