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Your Nonprofit Brand is Your Most Valuable Asset

Joey Tackett

Managing Director, Branding, Forum One

Wait, our mission is our most important thing, right? It drives all our work. Isn’t the brand just the same thing?

We hear this very often when building brand experiences for nonprofits. Your mission is important, though don’t get stuck focusing only on your mission.

Let me share with you a few reasons why your brand is your most valuable asset and how approaching it this way will increase your success.

Your mission versus your brand

Yes, your mission is key. It defines what your work is about and establishes your goals. If your nonprofit is like many we work with, the mission statements have gone through painstaking wordsmithing to get them just right, involving many stakeholders within the organization. This is great in gaining internal buy-in and giving everyone a unified direction.

But guess what: mission statements are not brands, and they are not written to speak to your audiences.

Your brand is the experience your audiences have with your organization. Your brand is built on a promise statement that is derived from your mission statement. The differences between your mission statement and your brand promise statement:

  1. Brand promise statements are shorter and more focused.
  2. Brand promise statements are speaking directly to your audiences in a way that will resonate.
  3. Brand promise statements tell them how you help them and how they can be part of it.

Your brand is a holistic experience

The brand experience describes all the ways your audiences experience your organization. By thinking of it this way, you are able to better position your communications efforts to establish your ideal experience. Your brand is essentially your organization’s reputation.

Some things our brand perception research uncovers:

  1. Reputation is built over time and many touch points. It can be damaged in fewer touch points. So consistency and building reputation equity is really important.
  2. People are more forgiving with nonprofit brands with whom they have a deeper connection.

The first step in building a holistic brand experience is to identify what the experience feels like to your audiences. Yes, it involves emotions and facts. What are some words you would use to describe the experience? What are words that would certainly not describe it?

Building your nonprofit brand experience: action steps

  • Develop a succinct, focused and targeted brand promise statement that is derived from your mission statement.
  • Make an exhaustive list of all of the possible touch points, which are moments when your audiences make contact with your brand.
  • Choose 10 to 12 adjectives that describe your ideal brand experience.

Dig deeper into your nonprofit brand: Learn about our workshop

Our STUDIO brand experience team runs a workshop activity to help nonprofits think about their brand promise statement. If you’re interested in taking the workshop, fill in the following form and we’ll be in touch to provide you with more information in 1-2 business days.

Written By

Joey Tackett

Managing Director, Branding, Forum One