4 Tips for Building Community Through Your Nonprofit's Brand
Community support allows your nonprofit to thrive. If your organization builds a strong community, your supporters will provide reliable funding and engage with your nonprofit to help further your mission for years to come.
One key tool to help build community is your organization’s brand. Branding is just as important for nonprofits as it is for for-profit companies. Your nonprofit’s brand essentially sells your mission. It also creates a sense of trust that your organization is truly making an impact, encouraging supporters to come together around a common cause.
In this guide, we’ll walk through four helpful tips to build community through your nonprofit’s brand, including how to:
- Design a Memorable Logo
- Craft Mission-Centred Messages
- Develop a User-Focused Website
- Brand Consistently Across Marketing Channels
As you make decisions about key aspects of nonprofit branding, record all of them in a single document. This living nonprofit brand guide can then serve as a reference for anyone who creates branded content for your organization. Let’s get started!
1. Design a Memorable Logo
Your organization’s logo summarizes who you are as a nonprofit. When supporters see your logo on any marketing materials, they’ll immediately associate that content with your nonprofit and trust its validity.
To make your nonprofit logo memorable for your audience, follow these design tips:
- Choosing colors carefully. Color psychology applies heavily to branding as supporters will subconsciously associate the colors in your logo with characteristics of your organization. For example, green is popular with environmental nonprofits because of its associations with nature and peace.
- Keeping your logo simple but making sure it stands out. Simpler logos are typically more memorable for supporters—consider McDonald’s golden arches or the WWF panda logo. However, you’ll need to balance simplicity with ensuring your logo is unique to your organization.
- Creating several versions of your logo. Every marketing material you make will have a different aesthetic and space available to fit your logo. Once you’ve chosen a primary logo design, create a few variations on the theme (for instance, one logo with your organization’s full name and one with only your initials) so you have options that will work for each individual piece of content.
This last tip is particularly important because you’ll want to include your logo on every piece of content your nonprofit creates, from social media posts to branded merchandise to event signage. When supporters repeatedly see your logo together with the rest of your nonprofit’s brand, it will help increase awareness of your mission in your community.
2. Craft Mission-Centered Messages
Although you likely associate the term “branding” with visual elements like your organization’s logo and colours, your nonprofit’s brand also extends to messaging. How your nonprofit refers to itself in the content you create influences supporters’ opinions of your organization and brings them together around a common cause. Plus, keeping your writing style and voice consistent across all marketing channels contributes to greater brand recognition and reliability.
Some elements of messaging that you’ll want to define in your nonprofit brand guide include:
- Word choice. Decide what words and phrases you want (and don’t want) to use in describing your organization’s work. For example, does your nonprofit “help” people or “partner with” them?
- Tone. Let the way you characterize your organization come through in the content you create. Is your nonprofit optimistic, passionate, driven, or another adjective?
- Stylistic conventions. Ensure each written message follows the same rules of mechanics. For instance, does your organization always use the Oxford comma or only include it when absolutely necessary?
Additionally, remember to center your nonprofit’s mission in every message. Write out your mission statement on the first page of your brand guide so that you can always refer back to it as you create content.
3. Develop a User-Focused Website
Your nonprofit’s website is at the heart of all of your marketing efforts, so it’s the ideal first place to put your brand into action. Many nonprofit websites include the organization’s logo in the upper left corner so it appears prominently on every page of the site. Also, as you write website copy, you’ll start applying your brand messaging guidelines and centering your mission.
However, your website will only be useful for building community if supporters have a positive experience engaging with it. According to Loop’s guide to nonprofit website best practices, you can improve user experience by designing for accessibility and optimizing for mobile.
Accessible design helps audience members who use assistive technologies or have permanent or temporary disabilities to use your website effectively. Some ways to make your website more accessible include:
- Adding alternative text to images.
- Providing closed captioning or transcripts for video and audio content.
- Ensuring text and background colors contrast sufficiently.
Mobile optimization also allows every supporter to make the most of your website by providing a positive user experience no matter what device they use. If your website is mobile responsive, the text and images will resize automatically to fit different screen sizes. However, you’ll also need to check that your site menu and other clickable elements are as easy to navigate on a smartphone or tablet as they are on a computer to provide a positive user experience.
If your website is accessible and mobile optimized, you won’t alienate any community members who visit it. Prioritizing user experience and including accessibility standards as a part of your organization's brand can bring your entire community together.
4. Brand Consistently Across Marketing Channels
In addition to your website, you’ll want to extend your nonprofit’s brand across all of the marketing channels you use. Consistency is key in making your brand recognizable among community members, which drives support.
Extend your nonprofit’s brand across both print and digital content, including:
- Email marketing
- Social media
- Fundraising flyers
- Direct mail
Incorporate branding into supporter-driven marketing as well. For example, if your organization launches a peer-to-peer campaign, create personalized fundraising pages for each participant featuring your brand colors and mission statement. Or, design branded merchandise so supporters can spread the word about your organization in the community every time they wear a t-shirt or drink from a water bottle with your logo included on it.
Your nonprofit’s brand is a powerful tool to build recognition and trust with supporters. They'll be more likely to engage with your organization over time if they can easily identify it and know that their contributions will make a real impact. More than that, your supporters can then come together around your cause, strengthening the community that your nonprofit needs to further your mission.