BRAND-AID: Simple strategies to improve your brand today

Did your marketing materials come together on-the-fly? Do you long for stunning and unified communications that serve as a beacon of hope for your nonprofit? You’re not alone. Most nonprofits are working with limited resources. Many don’t have a communications department let alone a graphic designer. Newsletters, websites, brochures, emails, and social media come together on the run. Over time this reactive approach to communication takes its toll on your brand.

Until you’re able to work a rebrand into the budget, here are some useful tips to help strengthen your image today.

#1 Understand the difference between your logo and your brand.
First and foremost: your logo is not your brand.

It helps to imagine a brand as a person. A person has a vision, goals, values, and their own personality. They have a unique way of talking and their own fashion sense. They have quirks and some bad habits too. As Apple illustrated in their Mac vs PC guy ads, your brand is the impression you make. The impression that you make is largely based on what you do, how you look, and what you say.

Being lazy about your brand is like going to work in your pajamas.

#3 Use typography (fonts) consistently
Typography is the art of arranging type. While you’re not expected to have a mastery of typography, you must do your best to use it consistently. It is best to select two typefaces – one with serifs and one without. Use one for body copy and the other for headers. If you all-cap your headers do so consistently. Simply using fonts consistently will give your materials a unified feel.

#4 Color palette
Color palettes are not subjective. Your color palette should support your brand. Colors elicit feelings. Yellow is connected to joy and happiness, while green symbolizes growth and harmony. Red is associated with strength and power, while blue symbolizes trust and wisdom.

Identify your color palette and use it consistently through all of your materials. Once you’ve identified your color palette find the corresponding PMS colors. PMS stands for Pantone Matching System, which is the standardized color reproduction system used by all printers.

#5 Use images well and often.
In a perfect world you’d have a database of professional images of volunteers, staff, donors, and program participants with amazing stories to tell that inspire people to support your cause. Often this is not the case and organizations must turn elsewhere for images. There are many free resources available that feel less “canned” then traditional stock photography.

If your images look amateurish it will make your organization look the same. Check out these websites to look for professional images that will reflect your brand well.

http://www.freeimages.com
http://www.stockvault.net
http://www.freemediagoo.com
http://www.freephotosbank.com

It is amazing how much an organization can button-up their brand with a little thought and know how.

Is it time for a brand check-up? Get in touch.

To start, take some time to develop your brand platform. A brand platform is a document that clearly and simply states your mission, vision, objectives, values, personality, competitive advantage, and tone of voice. Maybe you’re a forward thinking environmental organization that is hopeful and excited about the future of the Chesapeake Bay, or perhaps your a nonprofit that provides free legal services to to woman subjected to domestic violence – two very different people!

#2 Have an EPS file of your logo
Every organization must have a version of their logo in an EPS format (encapsulated postscript). Too often organizations only have a JPEG or GIF, which are commonly used image formats. The trouble with a JPEG/GIF is that they cannot be resized without loosing quality. If you don’t have an EPS version, and you plan to continue using your logo you will need to have a graphic designer recreate it for you in Adobe Illustrator.

Example 1:

Example 2:

#3 Use typography (fonts) consistently
Typography is the art of arranging type. While you’re not expected to have a mastery of typography, you must do your best to use it consistently. It is best to select two typefaces – one with serifs and one without. Use one for body copy and the other for headers. If you all-cap your headers do so consistently. Simply using fonts consistently will give your materials a unified feel.

#4 Color palette
Color palettes are not subjective. Your color palette should support your brand. Colors elicit feelings. Yellow is connected to joy and happiness, while green symbolizes growth and harmony. Red is associated with strength and power, while blue symbolizes trust and wisdom.

Identify your color palette and use it consistently through all of your materials. Once you’ve identified your color palette find the corresponding PMS colors. PMS stands for Pantone Matching System, which is the standardized color reproduction system used by all printers.

#5 Use images well and often.
In a perfect world you’d have a database of professional images of volunteers, staff, donors, and program participants with amazing stories to tell that inspire people to support your cause. Often this is not the case and organizations must turn elsewhere for images. There are many free resources available that feel less “canned” then traditional stock photography.

If your images look amateurish it will make your organization look the same. Check out these websites to look for professional images that will reflect your brand well.

http://www.freeimages.com
http://www.stockvault.net
http://www.freemediagoo.com
http://www.freephotosbank.com

It is amazing how much an organization can button-up their brand with a little thought and know how.