Guest Post by: Shea Baker & Matt Ulvila of 3thought, Inc, 3thought is a visual communications company based in Plymouth, MA that specializes in graphic design and creative strategy.
A Definition of a Brand – Part 1
The first thing you need to know is that a brand is not a logo. Nor is it a name, typeface or color. It is not on your business card, part of your website or in your brochure. To understand the value of a brand and how it can make or break your organization, you need to grasp that it is some much bigger and far more intangible than any of those things.
A Brand is the sum total of how the public feels about a particular thing (for the purpose of our discussion, your organization). It is the emotional response that people have when interacting with or seeing about your organization. Here are some examples of well-known brands:
- Volvo = Safe
- Jeep = Rugged
- Breyer’s = Natural
- Häagen-Dazs = Indulgent
- Apple = Innovative, Cool
- IBM = Business, Conservative
A successful brand is one that forges a strong emotional connection with its audience.
Non-profits, perhaps even more than other organizations, need to be able to tap into these emotions. Ultimately, non-profits are trying to get people rally behind a particular cause. People not only need like them, they need to believe in them.
The bad news is that you can’t decide how someone is ultimately going to feel about you. The good news is you can, and should, do a whole bunch of stuff to influence their opinion.
Branding is the intentional and systematic attempt to shape your Brand perception.
As your Brand will be built with or without your participation, your best course of action is to take an active role. Your first step should be to do a brand audit, where you take a look at every piece of marketing and identity pieces you have produced, as well as surveying what others have said about you. This includes not only traditional media, but also online and social media. Google yourself. Run a search on Twitter. See what comes up. It may surprise you. It’s also a good idea to do an internal survey to see what your organization thinks it is representing itself as, and what it aspires to be.
Once you have a well rounded picture of where your Brand is, you can begin to see how a Branding Strategy should be developed to help propel your organization in a positive direction.
The Brand Gap
Branding for Nonprofits
Watch for Part 2 of Branding 101 for Non-Profits: Branding Basics