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What is a Brand?

Posted by on January 5th, 2022
Posted in Blog, Nonprofit Branding   

Your logo is not your brand. A good logo embodies a strong brand and can trigger an association with that brand in the mind of the viewer, but it’s only a symbol of the brand.

Brand is just another word for reputation and every company and nonprofit has one, whether or not they manage it intentionally.

Scott Bedbury, a marketing master who has worked for Nike and Starbucks, among others, says: Your brand…

…is defined by the award-winning [work] and the god-awful [work] that somehow slipped through the cracks…. It is defined by the accomplishments of your best employee—the shining star in the [organization] who can do no wrong—as well as by the mishaps of the worst hire you ever made. It is also defined by your receptionist and the music your [constituents] are subjected to when placed on hold. For every grand and finely worded public statement by the [executive director], the brand is also defined by derisory comments overheard in the hallway or in a chat room on the Internet.

All the things mentioned above come together to form an organization’s brand. 

Brand is what separates Nike from adidas, McDonald’s from Burger King, or Coke from Pepsi. While there are slight differences in taste and style between these companies’ warring products, what really separates them is brand. Nike appeals to our heroic nature, while adidas appeals to our sense of style.

Elements of Managing a Strong Brand

Strong brands like Nike, Starbucks, or McDonalds didn’t create a logo and hope it would be one of the most recognizable symbols in the world. These organizations intentionally manage their brand to create meaning behind their visual cues, like their logo.

At Mission Minded, we’re passionate about helping nonprofits, schools, and foundations think about their own brand and develop the right strategy behind it.

This undertaking includes:

  • Establishing and powerfully articulating your organizational values
  • Defining the experience you wish to create in every interaction with your audiences
  • Positioning yourself in the sector relative to your peers and competitors
  • Delineating the personality and tone of your communications, and
  • Developing an elevator speech, or what we at Mission Minded call a Belief Message, that helps people quickly understand your organization

These brand signals must be used actively and with discipline in order to create a strong and recognizable brand that people want to associate with and support.

Why Invest in Your Brand?

Shrewd branding isn’t just for big corporations. Smart and savvy nonprofit leaders know the benefits that a strong brand can have on their organization. A strong brand hones in on what you uniquely do that differentiates you from peers and competitors, and why folks should care and support your mission. 

Click the link to find out When Your Organization Needs a Brand Message Strategy

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.

Have more questions about brand? We’re glad to answer them! Leave us a comment below and our brand experts will get back to you shortly.


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.

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