Why do I need a strong brand or organizational identity?

How do we establish the values and attributes that describe our brand? And what’s a brand anyway?

Think of your brand or organizational identity like your individual identity. It’s who you are in your entirety. It’s your organization’s DNA.

In the corporate world, brands rule. But program-focused nonprofits often overlook the value of creating a brand or organizational identity, not fully recognizing the power brands have. A strong brand not only helps to position an organization at a desired level in their service area, but it can also move constituents to action. It helps develop trust and, in turn, loyalty, allowing organizations to create sustainable relationships with their constituents.

A brand is what makes you unique

It’s the most important tool you have, to build confidence in your organization from within. Branding helps you clarify what you stand for and, in turn, helps you communicate your position to your audience in a way that resonates.

How do you develop yours?

A brand is often communicated through three elements:

  1. A brand purpose,
  2. a brand personality and
  3. a brand promise

Think about your organization’s purpose. Start by defining what you do and what makes you unique. Develop a purpose statement (like a mission statement) explaining why you exist strategically and what you do. By defining your purpose, you’re developing a foundation on which you can build focused goals and consistent communication.

Describe your brand personality. Your brand personality is an expression of your core values and the relationship you have with your constituents; it’s described using human traits. Are you innovative or traditional? Friendly? Approachable? Responsive? These traits will give life to your organization on the inside, guide your approach to communications and help you define your graphic identity.

Develop a brand promise. A brand promise is about benefits. It’s the emotional part of your brand purpose. It’s what gives your employees, colleagues, board members, constituents and other stakeholders confidence in your organization. Tap into your strengths and develop an informed promise based on constituent and competitor research.

Get buy-in

Once you’ve developed your brand, you need to get everyone in your organization to support and steward it. This includes management, staff, consultants and your board.

Remember, your organization already has a brand. The key to success is to manage it. Manage your brand right and you’ll carve a niche in your market, create a clear-sighted organization, build consistent communications and instill confidence and trust at every touchpoint.

Keep in mind!

A brand is more than a logo and a tag line. Your logo and tagline reinforce your brand, but they are not your brand. Your brand is the sum of all you do. It’s reflected in your corporate culture, the way you communicate, the relationships you build, and the promises you make to your audience.

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