Many not-for-profit organisations believe their brands do little to assist in projecting their products and services to the public. Often, people working in not-for-profits are motivated by a passion in a particular field such as art, humanities or research. It is easy for such people to forget that a strong brand under which to market products or services is needed.
The value of the brand is as important to not-for-profit organisations as it is to for-profit organisations because the social conscience dimension can be a very powerful tool for creating brand loyalty.
On many occasions, not-for-profit organisations will cite a lack of resources as a reason not to pay much attention to their brands. However, there are a few steps that can be useful for creating, developing, transforming and managing brands without incurring great costs:
- Identifying the identity and values of the organisation. More than other types of organisations, not-for-profits should define the identity they want to develop and the image they wish to project to the world whilst identifying their core values and beliefs.
- Design of the brand. Once the identity and values are defined, the design of the brand has to reflect these. Designs, colours, images, etc. should be chosen carefully and should be in line with the core values of the organisation.
- Consistent use. One of the key factors is using words, logos and taglines consistently and coherently in all communications with the audience. The entire organisation, including both managers and staff, should agree to send a clear and cohesive message to maximise the effect on its audience.
- Communication through the use of social media. Social media is readily accessible and an excellent platform for promotion of brands when well monitored. Consumers can create awareness and attachment to the brand by sharing their experiences on social media.
- Brand development and transformation. Customers of a determined brand can change over time, even if that brand belongs to a not-for-profit. Therefore, a brand must adapt to those changes and shed elements that have not worked with its audience, while including other elements required by its supporters to keep up with current trends.
- Legal Protection. And last, but not least, having proper legal mechanisms in place to protect the trade marks of an organisation will help avoid future costly legal battles. The registration of a trade mark (including logo, tagline and words) will give its owner the exclusive right to use that mark in the countries in which the mark has been registered. This strong level of protection of a brand is not attained by simply registering a company or business name.
As we can see, creating a brand is much more than just designing a logo or putting a tagline together. A brand carries and transmits the identity and core values of an organisation and projects them to the public. Therefore, it is strategically beneficial for not-for-profits to create, take care and manage their brands correctly in order to help them sustain and promote their growth and goals.
This article was originally published in the Better Boards Conference Magazine 2014.