Defining your brand is a critical first step for any successful fundraising effort. It can be a tough process — but it will make all the difference: Donors increasingly think of their giving as investments, and they choose to invest with organizations with which they have a valued connection. Without a strong, clear brand identity, potential donors won’t be able to determine if their values and your mission are the same.
Here are some important things to remember when embarking on the process of defining your brand.
1) Understand your Purpose
Don’t confuse branding with identity. Brand comes from understanding your core purpose. People often get confused and assume that the brand is the logo, the color scheme, the fonts, the look and feel. Actually, that’s the organization’s identity. The brand flows from the inside out; first, you need to understand your brand’s core purpose.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What is your organization creating or designed to do?
- Why does your organization exist?
- Why is no one else doing it?
- What sets your organization apart?
Don’t let your purpose be your mission statement — it’s deeper than that. Keep asking yourself “why” to get deeper and deeper until you identify the driving passion behind your organization. It is at this level you will be able to fully define and articulate your purpose.
2) Build your Core Ideology
Next, take that organizational purpose you have painstakingly identified and build on it to define your core ideology or core culture. What is the mission, what is the vision, what are the unchanging values?
3) Define the Brand Essence
Nail down the services you provide, the personality you choose to exhibit while providing those services, the distinctives that set your organization apart (unique sales proposition), and the benefits that people receive because of your services. Used together, these create your brand essence.
4) Determine your Brand Promise
Ultimately your brand is all about the promise you make to your donors. What is the one thing about your organization that will always consistently be true? What is the ONE BIG THING that you want everyone to know about your organization? Carefully articulate that promise to create a memorable position in people’s minds and firmly anchor your brand.
In defining your brand, it’s about doing first things first, and following the process in order: Purpose, Core Ideology, Brand Essence, and Brand Promise. After that is done, you can start working on your Brand Identity – but not before.