Raising the profile of your not-for- profit
Branding may not be seen as a high priority for many charities, but it is a vital part of business and could mean the difference between success and failure.
Branding and marketing is something many charities tend to neglect. This can be due to a range of factors – a lack of knowledge and skills in this area, a lack of resources to dedicate to this kind of work, and the fact that branding is just not a priority compared to the charity’s core activities.
However, for charities, as with other businesses, getting the branding and marketing right is hugely important and can mean the difference between success and failure.
The importance of branding and marketing
So, why is branding and marketing so important for charities? Simply speaking, the majority of charities rely on the support of the public in order to survive (whether that support comes through donations, fundraising or volunteering). If people don’t know your charity exists, or are unsure about what you do, you are unlikely to get the support you need.
In contrast, having a strong visual and values-based identity (or ‘brand’) can help your charity to stand out from competitors and engage with potential supporters. Research has actually shown that people are more likely to donate to a charity with a recognisable brand than they are to an unbranded charity. Many of the UK’s largest and most successful charities have already recognised the value of good branding and tend to approach their marketing activities in a professional and business-like manner.
Defining your aims
The first step in creating or improving your branding is to define your aims and objectives. What do you want to achieve? How do you want people to perceive you? What core values do you want to communicate? What results do you expect to see after going through this process? This stage can be quite labour-intensive but it is a vital part of the branding process that will help to inform all subsequent activities.
Knowing your audience
To make sure your branding and marketing is effective it’s imperative to first identify and understand your target audience. Think about the obvious things such as age, gender, social class, but also the less tangible things such as their likes and dislikes, what’s important to them, and how they like to access information. By understanding your audience, you will be able to target them more effectively.
The best branding and marketing is built around stories. You need to show people why your cause is unique and deserving of support, and storytelling is a really effective way of helping potential supporters understand what you do and engage them in your work. If people are being asked to commit time or money to a cause, they want to understand how their work can make a tangible difference. And in a crowded marketplace with lots of messages competing for attention, that understanding needs to come quickly and clearly. So, find the stories within your charity and use these as a focus for your marketing activities.
Getting to grips with all these different elements can seem like a bit daunting, especially if you don’t have any specialist branding or marketing specialists on your team, but a professional design and branding company can help to guide you through the process.
As graphic designers in Essex we have helped a number of local charities improve their branding activities. One such company is Farleigh Hospice who approached us to ask for our help in creating a more contemporary version of their well-established brand – one that appealed to new as well as existing supporters.
This was a complex task and one which we approached by running workshops with hospice staff and patient to ascertain their opinions on the existing brand appearance, and tease out the brand’s core values and appeal. The outcomes of these workshops then informed the final brand look and related materials, to ensure a coherent and impactful result.