One of the biggest themes I’ve noticed being taught in upper division public relations classes is the importance of branding and developing a specific brand image for your company or organization. I found that this concept is very relevant to nonprofit organizations specifically, as a good brand image or connotation can lead to increased donations and/or community support of your nonprofit, which is one of the most important factors that goes into a nonprofit’s success as a company. After scouring the internet for information aligning with this thought of mine, I came across a great article published on nonprofitpr.org titled “The Importance of Nonprofit Branding“, which I found to be a great source for information regarding this concept. I encourage you to read the entire article, but below you will find a brief summary and discussion about the points I found to be most insightful.
Firstly, I completely agree with the article when it talks about how branding can greatly help when there is an issue with the community or public having misconceptions about your organization. The development of a unique and personal brand for a nonprofit can give people a much clearer understanding of what your organization is and what issue or message it represents. As the article states, “It is critical that nonprofits understand the importance of developing a strong nonprofit brand and how your brand literally lives within the minds of your audience.” Moreover, “Lack of clarity about or within an organization is usually the result of the absence of a core brand that connects with the intended audience.”
I really liked when the article defines a nonprofit’s brand as the “gut feeling” the public gets when they think about your organization. This is great way to put it, because when you think of nonprofits such as the Susan G. Komen for a Cure Foundation, Make a Wish Foundation or other well known nonprofit brands, a certain image or idea automatically comes to mind, doesn’t it? You know exactly what that organization is about and the issue it represents without confusion, which demonstrates great branding. The article states that nonprofit organizations have a significant opportunity in creating this brand and that “this is ultimately what will differentiate your organization from your competition.”
Furthermore, the article goes in detail to explain that this gut feeling is so important to embed in its audiences, because “when a person thinks about a nonprofit’s brand, they make the connection to the organization’s cause, which becomes the main identifier.” They then will think about whether or not they sympathize with this identifier and if they would like to support it. If a person does not care about this identifier, they will not give to the cause. This, the article states, “is why it’s essential that nonprofits embed a gut feeling into their brands.”
In order to develop a specific brand focuses on the same three elements that a for-profit company does: value proposition, personality, and messaging. Once an organization can measure and define these three things, it is well on its way to creating an effective brand. Additionally, the article points out that nonprofits are already at an advantage over for-profit companies because the very nature of nonprofit organizations gives people incentive to support. Therefore, when paired with a great brand, a nonprofit organization becomes that much more powerful and defined within its audience.
Image source: http://intelligentadvertising.org/visual-story-telling/