In the mission-driven world, organizations can find themselves needing to change course when the world around them changes. Even when an organization works hard to create a consistent brand, a brand by itself doesn’t guarantee that you will be able to reach your audience and share why your work should matter to them. Your brand narrative is an important part of the experience, but when is the right time to revisit and revise it?
Your brand narrative is a set of tools that staff and key stakeholders can use to tell your brand story beyond visuals. This might include a tagline, slogan, elevator pitch, and longer pieces of text that share the why, what, and how of your organization’s work. Since your organization doesn’t typically remain static, it would make sense that your brand narratives might not either.
If any of the following is true of your organization, you may consider revisiting your brand narrative.
Your organization is growing or changing in scope
It isn’t out of the ordinary for mission-driven organizations to change direction slightly or take on larger sets of work as they grow. This is an obvious time to revisit your brand narrative as it simply may no longer accurately reflect the work that your organization is currently doing. If you change the direction or scope of your work without changing the way you talk about it, you can lose out on reaching the audiences for whom your work is relevant or alienate those integral in making the change such as donors or key staff.
Questions to ask about your brand narrative if your scope is growing or changing
- Do we need to let audiences know about this change as part of the narratives? If so, when will we phase out that message and transition fully to a new one?
- Do we need to change any other elements of our brand assets, such as visuals, to ensure that we accurately reflect our new scope?
- How are other organizations in this space describing their work and how can we ensure we use language that explains what we do?
You’re going through a visual rebrand
If you’re in the process of creating a new visual identity for your organization, it’s a perfect time to think about whether your brand narrative matches the story your visuals are telling. Ideally, you would review your tagline, slogan, and standard “about” text alongside your other brand assets during the rebrand process to ensure that they all reflect the same brand pillars. However, if you have already started or have just finished a rebrand, it’s not too late.
Questions to ask about your brand narrative if you’re rebranding
- Why are we rebranding to begin with? Are we trying to bring our design aesthetic into the modern era, has there been a strategic shift, or is it something else?
- How can our brand narrative be revised so that our visuals and content are telling a cohesive story about what we do?
- Do our tagline and other supporting narrative elements support the brand visuals’ messaging or confuse the meaning?
What you have isn’t working
The details of your brand matter. When they start to break down, so does your ability to tell your brand story effectively. If your organization is missing a cohesive story across all your assets—visuals and content—it may cause confusion, disinterest, and, worst of all, decrease in re-engagement. If what you have right now is falling short of reflecting what you do and falling flat in terms of engagement, you should consider taking another look.
Questions to ask about your brand narrative if what you’ve got isn’t working
- Is our brand narrative easy to understand and clear?
- Are there alternative ways to describe the work that we do?
- Is our brand narrative telling a cohesive story across all our platforms and formats?
Your brand narrative is an important part of your brand story, so it should be considered just as carefully as your visuals. After all, a brand is more than a logo! Just as audiences may see your logo in isolation and you would strive to evoke a certain feeling from your audience, it is the same with your brand narrative. There may be instances when audiences may only hear audio about your brand, read an excerpt in the news or on social media, or read your boilerplate in a publication. Each element of your brand should tell a similar story so that audiences always get the same experience (your brand promise!) no matter where or when they experience it.
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