Creating a strong brand is an essential way to engage people with your organisation and communicate your values. In busy and under-resourced organisations it’s easy to put branding and marketing to the bottom of a to-do list and categorise them as ‘nice to have’ rather than crucial.
Branding is typically the first interaction people have with your organisation so it’s worth investing in, and it doesn’t have to be difficult.
Food for Thought is a social initiative that invites advertising agency folk to donate their skills (and lunch break) to help charities — in exchange for nothing more than a nice meal. Food for Thought specialise in all types of communications including brand building. We wanted to pass on some of our experience by sharing a few tips on how you can create a strong brand for your organisation. Think of these as a starting point, rather than a definitive guide, and read on to see how you can get help with taking your branding to the next level.
1. Think of your brand as a person
A great place to start is getting together with key stakeholders in your organisation and asking questions such as: what do we look like? What do we sound like? Who are our friends and people around us? What famous person are we similar to? What do we believe in and what are our values? The collective answers will start to build a picture of your identity and form the pillars of your brand.
2. Embody and define your mission
Make sure your mission and values are at the heart of your brand. This is true for all organisations but is key when charity is concerned. Start by defining your mission in a clear and succinct way. If your mission can be summed up in one sentence, in a way that someone who has never heard of what you do could easily understand - then you have succeeded.
3. Create a strong visual identity
A great logo can be important, but there’s so much more that can be communicated about your values through colours, images, font styles and all visual devices. Think about selecting a colour palette, a font and a style of imagery that brings to life what your charity stands for but is also eye catching. A great place for inspiration is following interesting accounts (not just charities) on Instagram to see how they communicate their values and identity visually.
4. Tone of voice
A tone of voice is how your organisation sounds and speaks. Tone of voice is about words and how you use them. Develop core principles of ‘we do say’ and ‘we don’t say’ with examples for each. Flex this tone across different communication touch points, for example, a letter to a donor might require a more formal tone versus a Tweet. consider all channels when developing your voice.
5. Be consistent
Building a brand takes time; be realistic about how long you need to develop branding to get buy in and roll this out across your organisation. One of the most important factors in establishing a brand is consistency. The more you can deliver the same message and visuals externally and internally, the more familiar they will become and the greater the impact they will have.
6. Seek external input
While no one knows your organisation better than those working or volunteering for it—namely, the people who live and breathe it every day—an outside point of view can give a fresh and revolutionary perspective that could be the missing ingredient your brand needs.
There are different ways to get external input: pay for professional brand consultancy; ask someone you know for their thoughts or; find a creative social enterprise that can help for no fee—this is where Food for Thought can be of help. Food for Thought applications are open to new charities and social businesses and the Food for Thought team would love to see how we can be of help.
To start a conversation with us email firstname.lastname@example.org