If your nonprofit organization has re-evaluated its mission or developed a new strategic plan, you will need to engage donors, members, and advocates from this new position. No doubt, change is always in the works in the nonprofit world, but if your organization has had to pivot and regroup, rebranding can be a useful tool to re-affirm the vitality of the mission, explain current activities accomplishments, and invigorate supporters, both old and new.
We recommend you form a Branding Committee of no more than 10 people, made up of a variety of your constituents — board members, senior and junior staff, members at-large, donors, and colleagues. Choose people that have different understandings and relationships with your (new) organization and whose influence with their peer group is notable. As the process unfolds, they will become ambassadors for the new brand as they share the progress with their contemporaries. A mix of opinions will ensure that many voices are included. This group should be given ultimate decision-making authority and will be responsible for reporting to your Board of Directors.
Here are three customizable resources that we use with branding committees throughout the process, on every branding project we undertake.
A good way to start the (re)branding process is to send out an “identity questionnaire” to a variety of institutional stakeholders. Quantify the answers from this questionnaire — along with qualitative interviews and industry research — to inform your messaging to the public. A tool like this can also show any inconsistencies in stakeholders’ and board members’ readings of the organization, and it can reveal negative perceptions or challenges that might be addressed through branding.
Branding Word Exercise
Along with the questionnaire above, send a “word exercise” that will help your design or marketing firm to understand the desired feelings to associate with the new brand. Ask participants to react to adjectives that could define the brand such as: accessible, bold, informal, progressive, conservative, reassuring.
Branding Scoring Tool
When considering a new name, tagline, or logo for an organization, it is important to distinguish between objective and subjective responses. Objective comments take into account the audience point-of-view and desired outcomes. Here is a methodology to objectively evaluate names, taglines, and/or logos using seven categories with a scale of 1–5 for each. This will help your organization weigh the pros and cons of each option and determine which ones will serve your constituents best. Ask your Branding Committee to set aside personal preferences and encourage them to put themselves in the place of an individual in the target audience — and then consider the appeal of the new branding options.