nonprofit branding

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.


Guest Blogger on March 25, 2015 in Branding and Messages | 0 comments
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Visual StorytelingWhen executed well, visual storytelling cuts through the clutter, delivering  a mental image that resonates and is remembered (so more likely to be repeated).

Take this unforgettable example from MAMA (Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action). I couldn’t look away, but instead lingered on the image, taking in the different women and their range of expressions. Most importantly, the photo quickly and memorably conveys not only what MAMA does, but how—improving health through educating and supporting moms via mobile messages. That’s a tough concept to get in a flash, but this photo says it all.

You can do it too! When you have your message hat on, keep an eye out for the image that says it all, and ask and train your colleagues to do the same. You’ll know it when you see it (or get a vision of what set up will be unforgettable), just like the  MAMA folks did.

BTW, MAMA does great here on the relevance scale as well, leading linking this visual story with International Women’s Day (coming up later this week).

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More on Visual Storytelling

Nancy Schwartz on March 4, 2015 in storytelling | 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.


Nancy Schwartz on January 13, 2015 in Branding and Messages | 3 comments
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High-Impact Nonprofit Website DesignThanks to guest blogger Alex McLain, who designs engaging websites for nonprofits as a member of the Wired Impact team.

Creating a new website for your nonprofit is a mind-boggling task. You’ve got a million questions reeling through your head throughout the process, but one of the most important to consider is: “How important is the role of design in our website?” Without a doubt, your answer should be, “Very important.”

In order to wow website visitors and keep them returning to get more info, make more donations, or sign up for events, your site needs to stand out in a sea of websites that “get the job done.” Here are 10 ways great visual design drives website impact:


Nancy Schwartz on November 19, 2014 in High-Impact Websites | 4 comments
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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…


Nancy Schwartz on October 29, 2014 in Branding and Messages | 0 comments
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Within the first five minutes of meeting Leili Khalessi last year, I learned that she and her colleagues were in the process of rebranding their organization, including a new name. As Marketing and Communications Manager with (what is now) Red Rover, Leili was right in the middle of that challenging project. So I jumped on the opportunity to ask if she’d share the organization’s experience in this marketing adventure.

Most important takeaways:

  1. Pinpoint the problem you’re trying to solve with your marketing decisions, especially when it’s as big as a new name
  2. Ensure your organizational name/brand is recognized (and repeatable), before you invest in program branding. If you don’t, you’re likely to end up with people thinking your organization provides that one program only, which limits your growth in size and direction.

Here’s part one of this useful case study:


Nancy Schwartz on October 14, 2014 in Branding and Messages | 4 comments
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Use summer to rejeuvenate I’m seeking your ideas this time round!

Please tell me (in the comments below) what your summer camp looks like—i.e. how are you planning to use summer to get inspired, energized and even smarter? And how will you integrate that experience and the results into your work approach and/or activities in the fall.

Pls share your ideas and hopes here. I’ll report out via a guest post for Network for Good.

BTW, here’s my plan.

P.S. Get more nonprofit marketing tools, templates, case studies & tips delivered right to your in-box! Register here for the Getting Attention blog & e-news.

Nancy Schwartz on June 10, 2014 in Professional Development | 0 comments
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Fundraising GoalsHere’s what my dear friend and colleague, Kivi Leroux Miller, said when I asked her to share the most important takeaway from her just-released 2014 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report:

In far too many organizations, communications/marketing staff and development/fundraising staff aren’t talking or cooperating, and in the worst cases, are working at cross-purposes. Your goals don’t have to be completely in sync, but they must be aligned.

Oh yeah, they do. If your goals—and all the activity that flows from them, both marketing and fundraising wise—aren’t aligned, you won’t get anywhere with your outreach on either front. Actually, the impact will be far worse than that—you’ll alienate prospects and supporters by confusing them with an inconsistent experience, a proven recipe for pushing folks far, far away.

Kivi’s must-do recommendation comes from learning that communications directors and development directors vary widely in their take on:


Nancy Schwartz on January 16, 2014 in Fundraising: Innovations & Research | 0 comments
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Privacy Policy is vitalAs I combed the infinite number of 2014 marketing recommendations shared in recent weeks, I was surprised to see this one—review, revise and recommit to your privacy policy.

Didn’t we all do that already, during the advent of our websites and email programs?

But on further reflection, I realized just how important your organization’s privacy policy is in our age of data-driven marketing. In fact, your commitment to a comprehensive privacy policy is a prerequisite to increasing your 2014 marketing and fundraising results.

Here’s why, and how, to review, refresh and recommit to your privacy policy a.s.a.p.:

1) Your supporters and participants are sharing more personal data than ever before.


Nancy Schwartz on January 8, 2014 in Relationship Building | 9 comments
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Naming Netcentric Campaigns-4Part 1: Name Change Why, When & Hows

Naming and messaging are so tricky, yet so vital. I saw that again last week with your strong response to the Green Media Toolshed -> Netcentric Campaigns case study. So I reached out to the Netcentric team to learn more about their process and tips on shepherding a name change, or creation, for your organization, program or service.

Thanks so much to Bobbi Russell, Netcentric’s COO, for sharing experiences and tips.


Nancy Schwartz on October 10, 2013 in Branding and Messages | 0 comments
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