Branding Non-profits

July 29th, 2007   •   5 comments   •   Author: Walter Lim   

The Salvation Army is one of the world’s most recognised non-profit brand.

In this day and age, non-profit organisations like charities, trade associations, special interest groups, and clubs can ill afford to ignore branding. To reach a critical sized audience and membership, you need systems and processes to be in place. You need to also market your organisation for it to gain greater clout and reach so that it can better achieve its purpose. Just passion alone would not cut it.

Branding Insider, one of my favourite references for branding thoughts, highlighted 7 points of branding non-profit organisations.

Here are the key lessons:

1. The name.

A rose by any other name smells just as sweet. However, using too general a name for your non-profit reduces its effectiveness in differentiating itself. This is the first and most important decision any non-profit has to make.

2. The spokesperson.

All brands need a spokesperson, but it is incredibility important for a non-profit. Ideally the founder is the best person to take on this role. He or she has a powerful connection to the brand and can sell the story to the media, donors, volunteers and supporters.

3. The position.

Every brand needs a focus. For a non-profit that wants to be as inclusive as possible, this is a very difficult task. But the only way to get your brand into the mind is with a narrow focus. In a sea of multiple competing causes, the greater the focus, the better.

4. The enemy.

Every strong brand needs an enemy. This is something non-profits by nature tend to avoid discussing. But strong brands are built by figuring out who the enemy is, what the enemy stands for and then building a brand that stands for the opposite.

5. PR, PR, PR.

Not much to say, except that PR builds brand. The spokesperson need to spend the majority of his or her time doing PR for the charity, leaving the managerial duties to someone else.

6. A signature event.

All charities, schools, clubs and teams have endless fundraisers. Hardly a day that goes by when some organization isn’t trying to shake me down for money for some good cause. Instead of a non-profit spending thousands of hours on multiple new programs every year, a better strategy is to focus on one or two big events and do them every year forever. Consistency is the key to success.

7. Colour and logo.

Any brand can benefit from the use of a strong singular colour they can own in the mind. Pink and Breast Cancer is the best example of this. You see pink and you know what it means.

More details here.

Perhaps I would like to add another 8th point above which is Integrity. Nothing can shake or rattle a brand more than seeing a non-profit betray the trust which its donors and supporters have given to it. We don’t need another NKF saga, Youth Challenge conflict or St John’s Home shenanigan to remind us about this.

Have you thought about branding your non-profit today?

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  1. posted on Jul 30, 2007 at 2:58 PM

    This post is an insightful read for me. Thank you.

  2. posted on Jul 31, 2007 at 9:17 AM


    Thanks and glad you found it useful.

  3. posted on Aug 01, 2007 at 1:19 AM

    Regarding point 4, I guess the NKF has the job done.

  4. posted on Aug 02, 2007 at 1:22 AM


    Yah man… they did it too well…

  5. Cheryl Summers
    posted on Nov 01, 2011 at 5:17 AM

    A professionally crafted busniess logo designers is one of the greatest blessings for a company; whether it is big or small. It gives them an identity of their own and makes them different from others.

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