Branding and Messages

Passion is Contagious & ConnectsLast summer, my husband and I finally visited The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms, which had been on our go-to list for a decade. It’s the former country estate of noted turn-of-the-20th-century designer Gustav Stickley, a leader of “the Arts and Crafts movement in decorative arts, home building, and furnishing styles.” It’s the only house Stickley ever built for himself, so showcases his design esthetic, utopian vision and radical approach to daily life.

Here’s what surprised and delighted me:

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Nancy Schwartz on May 28, 2015 in Branding and Messages | 0 comments

Flickr: Bradley JohnsonHere’s how I partnered with a wonderful client organization to develop relevant, memorable messages (and guided graphics to match) that are bringing employees, supporters, partners and participants closer and motivating them to get more involved. YOU can do it too

The Challenge: Outdated Messages Were Deterring Key Actions: Registering, Donating, Partnering 

I recently completed an all-new message platform (tagline, positioning statement, talking points or key messages at organization and program level and elevator conversation) for the largest human services organization in Massachusetts.

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Nancy Schwartz on May 20, 2015 in Branding and Messages | 0 comments

Break-the-Rules CommunicationsWake up, girls and boys! It’s time to change our ways.

Here’s the thing: I’m a rule follower, and I bet you are too. After all, nonprofit communications isn’t the Wild West. But…

Rules are made to be broken, at least once in a while. And as much as I believe in defining clear goals to guide your right-now marketing decisions, and staying consistent within that framework for as long as its relevant, sometimes you just need to bust out. Here’s how:
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Nancy Schwartz on April 8, 2015 in Branding and Messages | 0 comments

Nonprofit Branding

Thanks to guest blogger Caryn Stein, VP at Network for Good

I’m so eager to share with you the incredible learning experience I had at the recent Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) . I learned all about nonprofit rebranding via Farra Trompeter, Vice President of Big Duck, and Will Nolan, Senior Vice President of Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD). Here are a few key takeaways to help you understand the potential of brand for our causes, and knowing when it’s time for a change.

First Things First: What’s a Brand?
Your nonprofit’s brand represents your identity, your promise to donors and constituents, and the consistency of your work. The principles outlined here are relevant whether you’re shaping a first-time (intentional) brand for your organization, or you’re rebranding.

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Guest Blogger on March 25, 2015 in Branding and Messages | 0 comments
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Nonprofit Branding Case StudyHow one organizations shows, rather than tells, its unique value and impact (a.k.a. brand)…
Bittersweet news from the Upwell team. I opened this email tentatively this morning, a little afraid of what I’d be getting. I’ve followed Upwell with great excitement since its founding four years ago—learning so much from its fresh, collaborative and completely open approach to ocean conservation.

I’ve also been thrilled (comms nerd that I am) by Upwell’s practical but inspired communications approach, built on authenticity with a dollop of humor. Take Upwell’s tagline, The Ocean is our client. Seldom do I see an organization so sharply and succinctly convey its passion, approach and hoped-for impact in a way both provocative and memorable.

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Nancy Schwartz on January 13, 2015 in Branding and Messages | 3 comments
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17-year-old Malala Yousafzai gave an unforgettable speech as she accepted her Nobel Peace Prize today. Despite her youth, Malala’s words show her insight and communications finesse! In fact, this core message from the speech is an unbeatable combo of passion, specificity and brevity.

Use this triad as a checklist for your organization’s messages. Less IS more—much harder to craft but totally worth it.

Nancy Schwartz on December 10, 2014 in Branding and Messages | 1 comment
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Delight with Your Nonprofit Communications

Zappos is known for its operations smarts and customer-friendly orientation. But this delightful addition to the return confirmation email I received from Zappos this morning was a real surprise—That trip over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house went smoothly.

Here’s what I love about it:

  • Transforms a transactional communication from mundane to meaningful, so Zappos is far more likely to be remembered and returned to for a future purchase
    • Zappos emails on returns, purchases and marketing millions (billions?) times daily. That’s a lot of relationship nurturing power, at little cost (time, effort or dollars)
    • Consider the possibilities for making your donation thank you or program registration emails more meaningful and memorable.

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Nancy Schwartz on December 9, 2014 in Branding and Messages | 2 comments
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Nonprofit Message Impact

When my friend and colleague Stephanie Bowen announced her new job at MAMA (Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action), I was thrilled for her, but didn’t really probe what MAMA was about. Knowing her search had been focused on development organizations working with women, I figured MAMA fit into that category and left it at that.

But last week, after jealously Facebook-following Stephanie’s work-related travel adventure in India, I had to know more. Naturally, I went right to the Who We Are page on MAMA’s website…

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Nancy Schwartz on November 18, 2014 in Branding and Messages | 0 comments
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Keep Relationship CurrentI’m a huge fan of the charity clearinghouse GlobalGiving, and have donated through them several times to causes I wouldn’t have been able to connect with otherwise.

That’s GlobalGiving’s sweet spot—connecting donors like yours (and you, and me) with causes that we may not find, know of and/or be able to easily donate to. They do a fantastic job of it: Since 2002, GlobalGiving has raised $151,783,082 from 407,034 donors who have supported 10,812 projects.

So I was surprised to receive this could-be-better email from them, updating me on the work they’ve done with my donation 3 1/2 years ago to the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund.

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Nancy Schwartz on November 5, 2014 in Branding and Messages | 1 comment
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Nonprofit Branding Case STudyRead Part One first

There’s so much to learn from the approach United Animal Nations took to rename and rebrand the organization….as Red Rover.

Here’s Part Two of this useful case study, via Director of Communications, Marketing and Development, Leili Khalessi.

Q: So you went directly to renaming on realizing United Animal Nations wasn’t working for you?

A: Nope. We tried something much easier first (and we’re glad we did).

We began using UAN as an acronym to attempt to correct misconceptions about our organization. But…

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Nancy Schwartz on October 29, 2014 in Branding and Messages | 0 comments
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