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Rebranding is a huge undertaking and never one to take lightly. That’s why it’s important to know which reasons warrant a complete rebrand of your nonprofit—and which don’t.
Before we go there, let’s first define what branding really is because some people get the term branding confused with marketing. They’re related, but very different.
- Marketing is actively promoting a product or service. “You should give to our organization for these reasons,” or “Donate to our cause because of how we’re impacting the world.” In short, it’s about compelling people to support you.
This is not branding.
- Branding should both precede and support marketing efforts. It’s the expression of an organization’s characteristics, values and attributes that define what it is (and isn’t). It involves your organization’s name, logo, colors, design style and other components, yes—but it’s bigger than those. A nonprofit’s brand will help encourage someone to donate, but it doesn’t say, “Please give money.” It says, “This is what I am and why I exist. If you agree, support me and recommend me to your friends.”
Your brand is what remains after your marketing efforts have come and gone. Marketing can convince someone to give you a donation; branding will determine whether or not that person becomes a donor for life.
Now that we have that clear, you can think about your brand apart from your marketing strategy. How well do your messages communicate who you are and what your organization does? Most organizations who go through a rebranding process will do it for one of these four reasons.
- Your mission has evolved.
It’s not uncommon for an organization to begin with one clear, focused mission, then see it evolve over the years to become something bigger, different or more complex. If your current brand doesn’t accurately reflect your mission anymore, then it might be time to consider a rebrand, whether than means a name change, a logo redesign, a new mission statement or all of the above. It’s important that your brand strategy reflects not who you were, but who you are now.
- Your current brand doesn’t reflect everything you offer.
Whether you’ve added services, expanded your operations, moved into new zip codes or now serve a wider variety of people, you want your current brand identity to encompass all of that. In other words, if your organization has outgrown your name, logo, mission, etc., it’s important to rebrand in a way that reflects the breadth and scope of your new organization. It’s common for an organization to outgrow its brand—that’s a good problem, actually. This is one of the best reasons to rebrand.
- You’re forgettable.
Apple. McDonald’s. Susan G. Komen. Red Cross. These are all brands that are memorable. People know their logos, their colors, what their message is and what they stand for. If your brand tends to be forgettable (it’s too complicated, it’s not compelling, your logo, colors and design are not consistent, for example), then it may be time to consider rebranding so that your organization “sticks” and encourages loyalty. If you feel unequipped to rebrand yourself, a branding agency can help you create a brand identity that’s cohesive and accurately reflects who you are.
- People don’t know what you do. The second that someone sees your name, reads your mission statement or spots your logo, they should have a clear idea of who you are and what you do. That might sound like a tall order, but if it’s not true for your organization, you should consider rebranding immediately. We live in an age of shrinking attention spans and increased competition from other brands all screaming for attention. People don’t want to work hard to understand who you are.
The most effective brands have a simple yet relevant logo, consistent colors and design, a compelling message and a clear mission. If those things don’t work together to create a solid brand for your organization, it may be time to start the rebranding process.
A few reasons not to rebrand:
- You have multiple and/or differing missions that not everyone can agree on. That’s likely more of a strategy or planning issue, and you need to work to get everyone on the same page, not change your brand.
- You’ve messed up in the public eye. You need PR help and maybe some brand management, but not a full rebrand.
- Your logo style and/or color is outdated. If this is true, you simply need a logo refresh. That’s different (and simpler) than a full rebrand.
Your website plays a huge role in your branding efforts. How well does your current site reflect your brand? We can help you create a website that communicates your vision, mission and values in a matter of seconds. Start your free trial at firespring.org/trial or call 877.447.8941 to learn more.