Does your brand reflect your values? To be effective, it must.
Though brand can be a confounding subject, in its simplest definition, brand is just another word for reputation. Your logo is not your brand. Your mission statement is not your brand, and neither is your name.
Your brand is the set of ideas people associate with you when they hear your name or see your logo. So if your brand is your reputation, then you have a brand whether you think you do or not.
The best brands are based on shared values – those your organization shares with the people you are trying to attract.
If you think creating a new brand strategy seems too overwhelming, consider this shortcut: Commit to clearly identifying and naming your organization’s values. Then get creative about how to project them externally for all the world to see.
Whether you have an articulated set of values now or not, ask yourself these questions:
Every nonprofit, foundation, school, and government agency has a set of values, whether they know it or not.
Your values are exposed by the way you act. If you say you value health, but serve sugary soda pop and corn syrup-laden cakes during staff meetings, your real value is tasty food, not health. If you value justice and you make sure your employees are treated as fairly as the clients you serve, then justice is an authentic value for you.
So when you think about how to make your brand stronger, start with your values. Those values, especially if they are clearly articulated and alive and well in your day-to-day culture, will act as the foundation of your brand strategy. Your values are something you’re probably proud of. Boldly promote them in word and deed, allowing them to become an invitation to those who share them with you.
Our client Drew School, an independent high school in San Francisco, values letting young people make and learn from mistakes and be themselves without the pressure of perfection as the goal. These values very much distinguish them from their competitors. Yet when Drew first called on us, these values weren’t being articulated externally so as to attract families who value the same things.
We helped Drew School translate their values into a short and sweet list for easy reference:
Here’s the new brand promise that came from those values:
Here’s the language that sprung from the brand:
And here’s the admissions campaign theme that tied these ideas together:
At the intersection of values and brand, you’ll find what makes your organization most appealing to those you’re trying to attract.
One of our values at Mission Minded is gratitude.
We think it’s a privilege to do work we love in service to such meaningful causes. We find joy in what we do, celebrate our successes, and find every moment we can to have fun and appreciate the opportunity to lend our talents to solving some of the world’s most challenging problems.
Thank you for reading our blog, and thank you for bringing your best to the organization you serve.
Jennie Winton is a Founding Partner of Mission Minded, a 25-year marketing veteran sought for her expertise in branding nonprofit organizations, and a one-on-one leadership coach.
See all posts by Jennie Winton