For for-profit businesses and nonprofits alike, branding acts as the first interaction between an organization and their audience. An organization’s brand tells readers how they should perceive them, and good branding is the gateway to all future communication with audiences.
For nonprofits, branding is especially important. A nonprofit’s brand represents your mission, so it needs to tell your story intentionally and effectively. If you think your brand is no longer communicating your organization’s message in the best way possible, it might be time for a rebrand. Nonprofits rebrand for a wide variety of reasons, from revising their overall fundraising strategy to shifting their outreach to a new audience.
It can feel like a daunting task, but putting in the time and effort to shift your brand in a new direction can have long-lasting benefits. To make your rebrand effective, here are four important considerations to guide your decision-making:
Don’t worry that you need to have everything perfectly laid out from the start of your rebrand campaign. Loop’s nonprofit branding guide suggests creating a living document of brand guidelines that you update regularly, so there’s always room to keep revising your strategy when you learn what’s working well and what could be improved. Whenever you make a change, keep these considerations in mind.
First, consider the scope of your rebranding project. How much do you need to change? How much time can you afford to invest? Rebranding is a big undertaking, so think through exactly which aspects of your branding you want to improve. The goal is to do enough work to make a difference with your audience, but not more work than is necessary.
Depending on how much of a change you decide your brand needs, consider these different scopes of rebranding:
- Expansion into new marketing channels. On the smallest level, a rebrand could consist of simply expanding your brand into communication avenues you haven’t used before. For example, this could look like creating new social media accounts and shifting your tone to better target your audiences on those platforms.
- Logo redesign. Take inspiration from the most impactful nonprofit logos to make sure that your logo represents the core of your nonprofit’s mission. Redesigning your logo doesn’t necessarily mean you need to change your entire color palette or typography, but it could. Maybe you want to keep your current color scheme but change the wordmark. Just make sure you take into account how a logo change will affect your overall branding.
- Website revamp. A poorly designed website can stop your supporters from accessing important information about your nonprofit. For best results, a nonprofit website redesign should include functionality updates and visual design changes. Make sure that each page is easily readable, visually appealing, and matches the tone that best suits your message.
- Fully new strategy. If you decide your branding strategy just isn’t getting the results you want, you can implement completely new guidelines to change the way your nonprofit comes across to supporters. A full rebrand will take a lot of work, so make sure it’s necessary before committing.
If you’re unsure where to begin, there are plenty of resources available to make the process easier. It can be helpful to work with a creative design agency that specializes in nonprofits to help define your goals and figure out what scope will be most effective for your organization.
It’s important to implement your rebrand at the right time so that you don’t confuse or alienate your supporters. The best time is usually during a period of transition for your organization. Here are some times you may consider rolling out your rebrand:
- When you reevaluate donor segments. You’ll already be reaching out to supporters in new ways, so updated branding won’t seem out of place. If you need suggestions, NPOInfo’s donor data management guide lists a variety of different segments you can create to better reach your audience.
- If marketing analytics are down. This is a great opportunity to survey supporters to see what you can do to better connect with them. Use their suggestions to alter both your marketing strategy and your overall branding.
- During external changes to your organization. External changes, like new regulations or changes in the public’s awareness of your cause, will alter how your organization is perceived by the wider community. This makes it a good time to rebrand without creating added confusion.
- After shifting to new leadership. Wait until after new leadership has settled in, then start rebranding. Let your new leadership present the rebrand as the first move for the organization in a new or improved direction.
Changing your nonprofit’s brand will take time, so be prepared for a period of uncertainty. Make sure that all of your staff are aware of the changes well ahead of time, and advise them on how to speak to supporters and stakeholders about the rebrand in a positive way.
In addition to taking a lot of time, rebranding can be expensive. Make sure you have room in your budget for the scope of rebranding you want to set in motion. There are plenty of ways to be resourceful with a limited budget, but you need to be intentional.
Use these tips to make your rebrand more cost-effective:
- Set clear goals from the beginning.
- Utilize design tips that have worked for other nonprofits.
- Look for examples that inspire you.
- Keep designs simple but memorable.
- Create a library of reusable and easily adaptable design collateral.
- Set out a timeline of what elements of your brand need to be updated and by when so that you can pause, reevaluate, or shift course if needed.
Having a clear set of ideas and expectations will also make it easier to work with professionals if you choose to do so. No matter who takes the lead on designing, be sure to remind them of the reason your organization decided to rebrand. The focus of each design change should be on better illustrating your mission to your supporters.
Consistency is key for any branding strategy, including rebrands. Your brand should seamlessly extend across all your marketing channels to present a cohesive picture of who you are as a nonprofit. This includes updating your website, social media, email, and traditional marketing channels like flyers and direct mail.
To make branding on all of your channels consistent, check that each of these elements align across channels:
- Color palette
- Tone and voice
This can be a lot to tackle when rebranding, but it’s important to make sure that all of your platforms align so that your audience fully associates your organization with the brand you’ve created. When done well, all of these elements will combine to create a memorable brand that your supporters will recognize immediately.
Rebranding can feel like a major challenge, but it’s worthwhile to make a positive difference in the way supporters perceive your nonprofit. Keep these considerations and best practices in mind to create a compelling and consistent brand that your supporters will remember.