We all need a fresh start sometimes. We move, take vacations, get rid of clutter, or streamline our lives in other ways to make it simpler, give perspective, re-energize, or become more focused.
Nonprofits also need fresh starts sometimes.
Today’s operating environment is fast changing. It can be difficult to maintain the proper perspective and sustain the momentum your Nonprofit needs. Rebranding is an investment; you must carefully look at your Nonprofit from as many angles as possible, in order to determine whether or not it requires a rebrand.
Most of the time, people view the branding process as simply something that provides an organization with its own identity. Brands are simply designed to capture the work and vision that the founders hope to carry out. As in every organization however, changes occur within the organization as it grows. Goals change, missions expand, new partnerships are formed. These are positive signs of growth, which most often take place under the old brand.
Rebranding narrows and sharpens your focus. It takes into account changes within your Nonprofit, as well as the environment where it exists and works, and formulates a new image for your organization.
Does your Nonprofit’s messaging still adequately reflect the work and vision of that you currently undertake? Most organizations who go through a rebranding process will do it for one of these four reasons.
Your mission has evolved.
The issues a Nonprofit sets out to change most always link to other related ones that also have to be addressed. You may have to make your mission broader in response to this. If not, you may find that most of the work you do does not fall clearly under your current goals. Consider whether you need to change the vision and mission statements or start afresh with a new name and logo.
Your current brand doesn’t reflect everything you offer.
You may have found that your Nonprofit requires that you offer a wider range of services to properly fulfil its mandate. Sometimes it is just moving to new premises that you need to account for in your brand strategy. These are positive reasons to rebrand; it captures the growth that your Nonprofit is experiencing. A rebrand is important because it should showcase who you are in the present time.
The old brand is ineffective.
You may not have put much thought into developing a brand that really strikes a chord with audiences. Take a minute to think through popular brands you know; there is something about them that makes them memorable. This is always the result of careful thought and deliberation. What comes to mind? Either a cleverly designed logo, a brief but powerful mission statement, or the overall reputation they have established through proper messaging. Compare these brands with your own. Is your messaging not targeted and focused enough? Does your choice of colours work well together? Most great brands grab and hold people’s attention. If yours does not, work with experts who can help you develop a suitable, unifying, identity.
Your brand does not communicate who you are.
One sign of an effective brand is this; people immediately understand who you are and what you do when they see it. This is one of the most urgent reasons for a rebrand. Today, people spend a minimum amount of time going through an overwhelming amount of content and information. To stand out, you must make a powerful statement. Always work toward having a simple logo that captures the heart of your work. Colours and design should be consistent. Your mission should be clearly stated and most of all, have a compelling message.
Rebrand or a Refresh?
So should you do a full rebrand? For many organizations, the answer is no. You may find that your brand works for your Nonprofit as it is. You may only need to touch up and update a few things. Some brands just need a refresh and not a total rebrand.
If you are considering a rebrand, remember that it is a significant investment. A rebrand also requires that the organization adjust and make room to attend to changes at different levels.
But, if you see your organization in any of the examples above, ask yourself and your colleagues: Does your brand really reflect your work? Does your brand resonate with you and do you feel pride when you think of it? Does your organization’s brand inspire your staff, donors, and partners?
If the answer to any or all of these questions is no, you might just need a fresh start.
The Full Rebrand
A rebrand is a process. It begins with you thinking through what your Nonprofit really is and does, and then requires that you reflect on the environment where you work. Take note also, of the reasons that led you into considering a rebrand. Is there a competitor from whom you want to distinguish yourself? You will have to look into all the possible ways that your rebrand touches on your stakeholders. Some of them may need to engage with you in this, so they will also have to invest some time with you.
For most stable and functioning brands, any changes that need to be made are a reflection of the organization’s growth. At times, it is the needs of the community that have changed, and your Nonprofit needs to incorporate this in their work.
Rebranding helps to align your Nonprofit with current realities. Check for instance, if your logo still works for you, as well as your messaging, and how you convey them through your networks. Changes in technology often require an assessment of whether you are visible on all channels where your audience can be found. Assess your Nonprofit for weaknesses, and speak to your partners for insight into areas that may no longer work for either of you.
A full rebrand entails, developing new messages from your new mission and vision, and creating action plans. You may need to rethink your visuals, including logos. Moodboards are of great help during this process. They help to set a new direction, and tone for both written and visual languages.
This basis allows you to come up with assets reflective of the new brand. Ensure that you publicize and launch your brand anew, so that your networks and partners are fully aware of this change. You also need to reassure them that this process strengthens your ties and relationships with them.
The passing time changes design trends. For your organization to show that it understands this, it may require a general facelift, even if the brand as a whole is working fine. Revitalization gives you a current, modern feel that will make your Nonprofit look in tune and able to grapple with change. You may just need to make sure all assets reflect this. This renewal is of the ways you keep your brand promise, and it continues to inspire your community and build their confidence in you.
A partial rebrand focuses only on what needs to be renewed, or made stronger. On the whole, branding seeks to strengthen your Nonprofit, so it delivers on its mission. A logo might just need to be adjusted, to reflect the design patterns of the time; the colours may work just fine. Work with brand experts to identify what should be changed, and what can continue to serve your Nonprofit.