Nonprofits Need Branding Too

“In the modern world, being opposed to branding is being opposed to contemporary forms of effective action.” – David Fenton

If this is the case, why do so many nonprofits have trouble coming to grips with the importance of effective branding?

Because it’s easy to think about how to market an iPhone, a sexy new mobile application that lets you become your own personal taxi driver, or a wild new variety of Doritos Locos taco. But when you start talking about saving lives, creating social change, and having cultural impact, the tone of the conversation around marketing becomes much different.

But maybe it shouldn’t. Now, that’s not to say you can market child abuse prevention advocacy the same way you can position a fancy new product – but the fear of branding and marketing the nonprofit sector overwhelmingly possesses is an obstacle that must be overcome to see long term success. 

Because just like a business needs revenue to survive, nonprofits need funding in the form of grants and donations to keep themselves afloat and positioned to have an even bigger impact.

So how does an organization that advocates for mental health awareness, or clean water provision, or abuse prevention brand and market themselves? Not unlike any for-profit venture does, by effectively telling their story in a way that captivates and builds support from their audience of fans, investors, and supporters.

  • Articulate the distinct ways your organization is changing the world into content that can be shared through your blog, social media channels, and email newsletters.
  • Create a platform for the people you impact to tell their stories through testimonials, video, and at live events.
  • Mobilize the people who are passionate about your cause by creating (and cultivating) community both online and off.
  • Give your staff the freedom to share their own unique voice about the meaningful work you’re doing.
  • Be yourself and stay true to your brand. But be open to finding new ways to share your impact with the world.

The takeaway? The powerful work any nonprofit or social venture is doing will only be strengthened by effective storytelling. It may seem scary, it may even seem wrong, but nonprofits need branding, too.

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