Brand is just another word for reputation and every organization has one by default, whether or not you manage it well or how your logo looks. Your brand lives in the minds of your audiences. It’s the culmination of their experiences of how you sound, how you look, how you act, and what you do.
So, what makes a standout nonprofit brand? Think about mission-driven organizations you support. Their mission likely aligns with your values; how they look and act gives you confidence in their work; and their messages connect with your heart motivating you to act.
Standout brands are able to leverage their values, their personality, and their positioning to create a consistent experience centered around a single bold idea that is reinforced at every touchpoint. We use this brand framework to define the elements that distinguish your organization and inspire people to support you.
Here are three standout nonprofit brands and the lessons you can glean to strengthen your own organization’s brand.
California ChangeLawyers is a statewide foundation that empowers the next generation of lawyers, judges, and activists to create a more diverse legal profession. Their name and tagline, California ChangeLawyers: Fund Justice, Change the World, tells you everything you need to know about who they are, what they do, and what they hope to achieve. They aren’t just lawyers, they are ChangeLawers focused on funding projects that bring justice to change the world.
Their former name, California Bar Foundation, didn’t say much about who they are and the impact they make. With their new name and tagline, accompanied by a compelling brand strategy and a bold visual identity, all developed with Mission Minded, the organization now communicates their fearless nature to effect change, differentiating them from other legal or justice organizations.
While a name change is not an easy decision to make, it can offer the opportunity to tell your organization’s story in a new and more compelling way. If changing the name of your nonprofit or school sounds worthwhile, answer these eight questions to guide your decision making.
OLE Health is committed to providing innovative, whole-person healthcare for all of Napa County, CA. Articulating brand-aligned values was essential to OLE Health’s brand strategy, guiding their mission and establishing a common set of principles. Notice how we used active verbs to serve as values statements that also set the expectation on how to behave.
Leaning into these values, OLE Health leverages them as a recruitment and retention tool—in job descriptions and onboarding—to attract and retain a mission-driven team aligned on the organization’s principles. These values also serve to guide staff and volunteers on daily decision making.
Take this quiz: if you polled your organization’s staff right now, how many people would be able to recite your values? How many could tell you how those values are expressed in their daily work?
Values should be the principles upon which your organization makes decisions. They should clearly inspire the kinds of actions you expect of your community, and they should be easy to remember.
San Francisco Day School has remained true to the founders’ mission of educating its students according to the highest standards of academic and creative excellence. But rather than seeing these two pillars—academics and creativity—as equally important, they see them as integrally linked. San Francisco Day School is “Where intellect and imagination intertwine”—this positioning we helped them uncover makes them different from other San Francisco schools. By claiming what makes them unique, they are ensuring they attract mission-fit families.
Establishing your organization’s positioning can be challenging, so here are few steps you can take to get clarity about what makes your organization unique:
You can learn more about each of these steps in our short video series on school branding. All nonprofits (school or otherwise) can apply these simple steps to help define their organization’s positioning.
As you can see, standout brands align their name and messaging to their mission, articulate and activate their values, and communicate their unique positioning and impact. Consistently delivering on these elements of your brand strategy at every touchpoint will help ensure your brand stands out to the audiences that matter most.
Considering a branding project for your organization? Click here to learn what’s involved in the process and what it will take for your branding initiative to succeed.
Frida supports and executes Mission Minded’s Marketing and Client Relationship strategies where she manages social media and digital content, oversees conference speaking opportunities, and acts as project management support on various client engagements.
See all posts by Frida Silva