I just finished reading an excellent book Branding for Nonprofits, Developing Identity with Integrity by DK Holland. This book should be a mandatory read for board members of any nonprofit, including those that have been around a while and others that are just starting up. Branding for Nonprofits introduces the importance of developing a strong brand as a vehicle to push a clear message to an audience, both investors and constituents. It also addresses the criteria nonprofits should use to measure the expertise of a designer seeking to cultivate that message into physical and electronic materials. It serves as a how-to guide for nonprofits who want to be distinct in a world of crowded messages by exploring and outlining with great detail, the process of branding the organization, both internally and externally. The book also provides case studies, complete with before and after branding comparisons.
The nonprofit sector is a special arena because funding is almost paramount to the operation of the organization. From my experience, not all nonprofits have seen the value in sourcing a quality, design professional to earnestly translate their message into a cohesive brand. In fact, many nonprofits don’t recognize the value of even undergoing a branding process—they would much rather put something out. Branding is indeed a time investment (for good reason), but the value of the time spent is invaluable considering it will be your brochures, business cards, and websites driving how people engage your organization when you can’t be around, and will often be a deciding factor for those who wish to donate to your cause.
As an unkanny! designer, I am tasked with not just making things pretty, but with organizing visual elements to relay a specific message, using what I understand about the psychology of human behavior and what I understand your brand to represent. Before we even begin to talk design, I will educate you on the importance of understanding the messages you will be sending because it may not be of significance to you, but it is of the highest importance to me.
Are you a member of a nonprofit? Has your board of directors completed a thorough branding process? Please share your thoughts.