Summary: In today’s podcast episode, Eric Ressler from Cosmic and Stephen Halasnik from Financing solutions discuss strategies that nonprofits can use to build their brand and visual identities. These solutions help nonprofits highlight and communicate their purpose through marketing and branding strategies.

Build your brand strategy early

Building a brand is essential for nonprofits to scale and grow. It is important for nonprofits to strategize how to build their brand from the beginning of its establishment. Branding is a crucial part of success for organizations that serve social impact or purpose. The first aspect of nonprofit branding involves identifying the communities served and how they want to affect change or the “theory of change.” Nonprofits should be able to communicate their theory of change within a few key points that are understandable to potential partners or sponsors.

Brand building involves the development of a visual identity, logos, and tone of voice that represents your organization. Brand building should also focus on the theory of change and your current competitive positioning among nonprofits that serve similar focus areas. In our current attention economy, Individuals and organizations have access to information from various channels. The challenge that nonprofits now face involves capturing and sustaining the attention of potential supporters.

Identify what makes your brand unique

It is important for nonprofits to be able to accurately gauge their competitive positioning and factors that make them unique from their competition. Organizations can develop a niche in the niche in nonprofit ecosystem which showcases unique strengths that a nonprofit brings that other organizations are not. Having clarity surrounding your organization’s niche is critical to building the overall marketing and branding strategy.

In the nonprofit industry, competitors are also often potential partners for your organization. It is still important however to have differentiation among partnering organizations. Nonprofits can also differentiate by creating a unique visual identity. Visual identifiers include color scheme, logo design, fonts used, and website layout. A nonprofit’s visual identity can help people evaluate the credibility of the organization. The challenge for nonprofits is to use visual identify and brand positioning to generate value for customers across digital platforms.

Brand awareness should be internal and external

Building a brand should be a major pillar of success in a nonprofit’s overall marketing strategy. Branding involves generating brand awareness aim at articulating what the organization stands for and who it serves. It is important to articulate your organization’s purpose internally as well as externally. Organizations with limited resources benefit greatly from having clarity of priorities so that resources can be allocated as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Internal brand awareness is generated by communication among team members and staff. All employees within a nonprofit should be aware of the organization’s mission and purpose and be able to work cohesively across departments. Nonprofits must effectively articulate their purpose to individuals outside of the organization through brand messaging and communications e.g., social media platforms, newsletters, text. Nonprofits can benefit from working with external advisors that can provide additional industry knowledge and expertise.

Nonprofit social and digital media strategy

A major component of nonprofit marketing and branding involves building a digital infrastructure to support your organization’s foundational elements. Distribution and brand awareness are spread mainly through digital channels. Nonprofits benefit from adopting a digital-first culture. Adopting a digital-first culture encourages nonprofits to incorporate digital infrastructure and communications into the core functions of the organization.

Adequate technology is needed to support the nonprofit’s digital media structure. All channels for social, owned, and earned media should the managed and tailored in a way that gets and retains your audience’s attention. Digital media allows nonprofits to produce ongoing, timely, relevant, educational, and inspiring content that continuously provides value to their audience. Digital media channels should provide your audience with opportunities to engage with your organization and move up the engagement pyramid.

About Eric Ressler from Cosmic

Eric Ressler is the Founder and Creative Director at Cosmic, a Social Impact Creative Agency. Eric Ressler empowers social impact organizations to catalyze real-world change by helping them nail their impact story, build brand awareness, and inspire action.

About The Host Stephen Halasnik, Financing Solutions

Stephen Halasnik is the host of the popular, The Nonprofit MBA Podcast. The Nonprofit MBA podcast’s purpose is to help nonprofit leaders. Stephen is the Co-founder and Managing Partner of Financing Solutions, a leading provider of Lines of Credit to nonprofits and small businesses. Stephen is a best-selling Amazon author and is considered a leading authority on building great, purpose-driven businesses. Stephen lives in New Jersey with his wife, Gina. Mr. Halasnik’s number one purpose is raising his two boys, Michael and Maxwell, to be good men.