I have enjoyed a unique opportunity to serve in several different roles within the nonprofit industry. From direct service to grant administration. I was responsible for more than a million dollars in federal block dollars to provide funds for substance abuse prevention, intervention, and treatment programs. I believed assisting nonprofits reach their agency’s capacity-building goals was an important element towards agency sustainability and success. Unfortunately, many of those organizations I worked with failed to see brand awareness as an intricate tool, ensuring others see the good work they’re doing, and the impact created by their services and programs.
In my experience, I’ve found one of the most important elements to success for nonprofits is the ability to create brand awareness around program and services. Brand awareness focusses on how familiar others outside of your organization are with your agencies work. I often suggest to new nonprofits that they don’t want to become their communities best kept secret. It’s better to expose your organization to brand awareness strategies, which will mean more people know about your organization and the services you provide.
What’s important to creating brand awareness for your organizations?
Creating your mission, vision and core values is intricate to organizational success and the promotion of your brand to clients, funders, champions, and volunteers. To align your organizations messaging, your agency needs a foundation element to drive it all. That foundation is your mission, vision, and core values, because it sets the stage for how you want your community to feel, think and access your organization. When developing your marketing messaging, consider establishing a framework for your brand awareness strategy. Start with:
- Writing out sample messages to serve as examples of your organizations voice and make sure that these messages aligned with your mission.
- Creating rules and guidelines for how to use this specific messaging to make sure everyone within your organization is using the strategy properly
Design your organization’s visual identity
Organizations need to ensure the visual appearance of the brand, meaning the logo, font choices, colors, and image guidelines, align with how you want your organization to be represented to and received by the public. To develop or determine if anything within your current brand’s visual identity needs to change or is not aligned with how you want to be perceived, consider conducting a focus group or distribute an online survey tool.
Create a content plan to execute your brand strategy
If you write your plans out, anyone can pick them up and run with it. That’s why a content plan is important for creating brand awareness. The plan maps out when certain messaging should go out and to which platforms. Additionally, this will help execute various marketing campaigns that your organization may have to push your program and service goals forward. A content plan should:
- Highlight the impact your organization has on the community by promoting stories from your beneficiaries in the form of user-generated content
- Demonstrate impact, which helps build trust in your brand to your audience, but also showcases your organization as the expert in your area of service and program facilitation
Brand awareness is important for nonprofit organizations to better serve clients. It’s also valuable assisting with fundraising, by engaging potential donors, and establishing trust amongst the communities, funders and clients being served. I believe strong brand awareness helps an organization shape the way their messages are received, ensures they are universally understood across various demographic, and protects them from becoming the best kept secret.