How to Rebrand Your Nonprofit, With 4 Tips From an Expert
The thought of reimagining your organization’s look and feel can be intimidating, especially if your current brand identity is the only one you’ve ever known. But the decision to rebrand your nonprofit presents an opportunity to powerfully realign with your mission, goals, and direction for the future.
Today, we’re bringing you the expert advice of Katie Stotts, strategist at the Knight Eady creative agency. She dedicates her career to determining when a rebrand is beneficial for foundations and how to achieve their vision strategically.
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The Value of Rebranding Your Nonprofit or Foundation
When you take a step back to envision how your brand identity connects with the outside world, you can make intelligent decisions that impact:
- Your ability to connect with new networks of donors
- How easy it is for someone to understand the impact of each donation on your cause
- Your competitive stance in the growing social sector
- The first impression you make on corporate sponsors, partners, and board members
- Your potential for fundraising revenue
- The connection people feel between timely societal challenges and your solutions
Meet Creative Strategist, Katie Stotts
Katie sits on the strategy team at Knight Eady, which offers full-service marketing and event management. She spends her days helping nonprofit organizations, like the Blocking Hunger Foundation founded by NFL center Travis Frederick, achieve their creative visions for fundraising.
We recently highlighted Katie’s work with the Blocking Hunger Foundation in a customer case study.
I love working at Knight Eady because it allows me to combine my passion for sports and nonprofits through my work. At Knight Eady, we all have an underlying belief in sports. For me, I believe that sports have the power to change lives. Athletes and organizations can use their platform to raise money, do good, and improve communities across the globe.
Today, we’re thrilled to give you the inside scoop on how to successfully execute a nonprofit rebrand. Here are Katie’s top four tips.
4 Expert Tips to Rebrand Your Nonprofit
1. Know When a Rebrand Will Be Most Beneficial
Before we dive into the heart of strategic branding, let’s first figure out if a rebrand is a good idea for your organization at this time.
Here are a few factors that could signal a rebranding opportunity:
- An updated mission statement
- Launched or retired programs
- Changes in leadership
- Shift in target audience
- New partnerships
- New groups of beneficiaries or people served
Most importantly, an organization should consider rebranding when its identity no longer reflects who they are or what they stand for. The best way to ensure that never happens is to constantly evaluate and evolve your brand. Remember, not every rebrand needs to be a complete overhaul. Sometimes minor tweaks are best to ensure your visuals and messaging are still relevant, but that will depend on how often things shift within your organization.
2. Inform Your Strategy with Audience Research
Like all successful marketing efforts, it’s critical to consider your audience when it comes to your messaging and visuals. Think of your rebrand as an opportunity to reintroduce yourself to stakeholders in a way that feels relevant to today’s social landscape and the current events shaping it.
Outline donor personas to better understand the audience you’re looking to reach with your rebrand. Knowing your audience will help you identify the attributes that influence each donor segment so you can make more informed decisions about how to target them.
Consider these approaches to audience research:
- Secondary research compiled by third parties, such as a report on generational donor behaviors, location-based donation patterns, targeted donor behaviors specific to events or recurring donations, or overall donor trends within your cause sector
- Surveys to your existing donors or email lists asking about preferences, age, location, motivations, and passions regarding how they connect to your brand today
- Interviews with your most loyal donors about why they’ve stayed with you for so long, what exactly about your organization makes them feel proud to support it, and what they would suggest for a rebrand to help you grow
Once you’ve done your research, you’re in the best position to embody those missions and goals without fear of rejection.
3. Tell Your Story With Purpose
Your messaging serves as the core of your brand. It informs all visuals that help bring your story to life.
You can technically execute a rebrand simply by altering a logo, but a thoughtful rebrand involves evaluating and updating the story that ties it all together.
Start by breaking down your organization’s true purpose at this moment by drafting a new mission and vision statement. This exercise will help you understand who you are and where you want to go. It also serves as a guide for all other messaging, ensuring it’s clear, consistent, and aligned.
Consider building a brand messaging kit inclusive of:
- Your voice and tone
- A purpose statement
- Your brand’s personality
- Your founding story
- Messaging per audience
- A company description in varying lengths (one sentence, one paragraph, long form)
- Sample calls to action for campaigns, emails, and social channels
Sample social media messaging per platform
4. Establish a Memorable Visual Brand Identity
Once you’re feeling good about your message, see how small shifts in your visual identity can bring it to life for your audience. Look at how your current visuals will serve your organization for years—not just based on what’s trending right now.
You’ll want to regularly review your visuals and illustrations to see how well they represent your brand across all platforms.
Consider creating brand guidelines for any third-party support you get along the way, including:
- Logo placement
- A color palette
- Approved photography library
- Illustrations and symbols
- Templates for social media, slide decks, documentation
- Email headers and signatures
For nonprofits, visuals should create an emotional link between your cause and your donors to bring them into your story. If no one reads the words on your website and just looks at the videos or imagery, would they understand what you do and how they can help?
At the end of the day, your brand identity is the first chance you have to make an impression on new donors. If executed properly, this initial point of contact can be the start of a long-lasting relationship with a supporter who fuels your fundraising efforts.
Showcase Your Refreshed Brand to the World
Once you’ve created your ideal brand, bring it to life across various marketing channels.
Ideas to market your rebrand:
- Drive donors to campaign pages that feature your new branding
- Leverage hashtags and visuals on social media to introduce your fresh look
- Engage influencers with rebranded swag in exchange for shared posts
- Write up a LinkedIn article explaining the “why” to potential corporate sponsors
- Lean into the earned, paid, and owned media model to cover your bases
Check out how Katie worked with Travis Frederick to bring his Blocking Hunger Foundation to life and get inspired to do the same for yours. If you’re interested in doing similar marketing or branding work with the help of an expert like Katie, check out Knight Eady.
See How This Rebrand Hit Home With Donors
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