Howard Adam Levy
Integrating your brand into your nonprofit organization
So, you have a new logo. Now what?
In addition to serving as the key identifying mark, your organization’s logo can tell people a lot about your organization, its values and philosophy. And if your logo looks outdated, unprofessional, or otherwise no longer represents your organization accurately, it can be time to change it. Once you’ve gone through the process of updating your logo, you’ll need to incorporate it into your website, newsletter and other marketing and fundraising materials so that you can take full advantage of your new investment. However, the solution is not as easy as slapping the logo on all your materials. Here are some of the key steps to effectively start using your new logo:
Update Your Materials
Once your new logo has been decided, you’ll want to use it on your stationery, brochures and website. But first, you’ll need to determine your strategy: Will you be updating all of your materials all at once (and discarding the old materials) (often referred to as a hard launch) or phasing in the new logo as materials are used up (a soft launch)?
How do you decide? First conduct an inventory of the materials that you have. Then determine what materials are crucial to making a difference immediately (such as your website, email signatures, and business cards or key brochures). More costly items such as signage, can perhaps wait if cost is a prime factor. Consider items that are going to be used together, such as letterhead in a folder–you’ll want those to match, otherwise your organization will look fractured and unprofessional. Also consider how long it will take you to use up your current stock, and the cost for replacement for what you’ll need going forward (you’ll need to get quotes from a printer).
From there, you can determine a phase in plan so that you can use up more costly materials that are not crucial. Just don’t let your phase in plan be too long, otherwise you’ll undermine the reason for updating your logo in the first place. Immediately to three months is good, six months might be acceptable, but using old materials after a year of introducing your new logo is not going to help your organization.
Have the Necessary Tools
How do you know how to use your logo–does it go on the left side of the page, or the right? What typefaces and colors do you use? A brand manual (prepared by a branding agency or graphic design firm) provides guidelines that will help you use your logo and other brand elements consistently. Typically, brand manuals contain information on the correct and incorrect use of the logo, colors, typefaces, and templates for stationery items, email signatures, brochures, newsletters and publications, websites and other marketing materials.
The brand manual can be a strategic tool for building the value of your organization’s brand, but only if it is used. That’s where staff training comes into play. It is a good idea to educate your staff on what your new logo means for your organization’s brand, and how crucial it is to maintain consistency when developing communications materials—and how they can actually do so, especially, your development and communications staff. The goal is to have everyone in your organization become a “brand ambassador” who can use your logo correctly and spread the word about the value that your nonprofit is creating.
Your organization needs have a procedure in place for launching your new logo. Establish an implementation plan so that appropriate staff understands when they need to be using the new logo and creating or using new materials. The division of tasks needs to be clearly communicated so that responsibilities don’t overlap. If there is an outside agency involved, decide on what needs to be done in-house and what will be outsourced to ensure efforts are coordinated. Designate one person to oversee the effort and answer any questions that arise.
Smart organizations understand which aspects of their marketing have the most impact so they can build on those strengths year after year. Setting marketing goals early on will help you measure the results of your marketing efforts, so that you know which tactics are effective and should be increased, and which are not. It can also give you an idea of where to allocate your resources to get the most bang for your buck.
Once your new logo has been introduced and materials have been updated, your efforts cannot stop there. Maintaining your brand is an ongoing process to ensure the long-term viability of your organization. In large part, the success of your marketing efforts depends upon how well you are communicating your brand—your vision, values and personality—on a consistent basis. If done well, you can form deep and lasting bonds with your donors. Your new logo is just the start.
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