Creating Nonprofit Brand Guidelines
February 1, 2023
Which nonprofit do you associate with a red cross on a white background?
The Red Cross, of course.
Brand recognition is knowing who or what a logo represents regardless of where it’s used.
Your target audience might encounter your organization on multiple channels. So, consistently representing your nonprofit can affect whether people recognize your brand and your mission.
What is a Brand Style Guide?
It’s a set of standards that regulates your content strategy, like that used in print and digital media. A brand style guide usually includes your nonprofit’s logo, font, colors and a description of its voice. Those standards are the lens through which you produce and review assets and content. The nonprofit branding guidelines define how your organization should look, sound and feel.
Benefits of Brand Guidelines
Other nonprofit branding benefits include:
Eliminating inconsistency: A brand style guide can help your team create content for your brand that maintains a uniform look and feel.
Brand recognition: Using consistent colors and fonts increases the likelihood your audience will recognize your nonprofit, whether they see your direct mail piece or a social post.
Loyalty: Delivering professional, branded content requires dedication and can elevate your nonprofit’s reputation in the eyes of its donors, volunteers and stakeholders.
Nonprofit Branding Best Practices
Logo: Outline the acceptable uses and formats of your logo, including how much space surrounds it, the sizing and acceptable color variations. Include incorrect examples, too, such as unspecified color variations, horizontal or vertical stretching, encroachment of negative space and unacceptable backgrounds.
Colors: You should define the primary colors associated with your logo and the secondary color palette that complements it. Provide CMYK files for print materials and RGB files for digital assets to ensure the correct color use.
Typography: Describe the specific fonts to be used for your marketing materials. That includes font styles for headlines, subheads, body copy and calls-to-action.
Word choice: What would your nonprofit sound like if it had a voice? Would it be straightforward, casual or eloquent? It’s important to use words and phrases that represent your organization and the people who support it. That gives your nonprofit a unique personality that’s easily identifiable.
Images: Establish visual standards for photos, videos, infographics and illustrations. You’ll need to define the style, color palette and tone of your visuals to create impactful images that leave a lasting impression.
Implementing Your Nonprofit Brand Strategy
Walk your team through your nonprofit branding guidelines to get everyone on the same page regarding marketing materials and content creation. Discuss how brand standards will be used in emails, social media posts, letterhead, annual reports and other assets.
Accessibility is key to successful implementation. Your team can’t create the right branded content if they don’t have access to the files for logos, fonts and colors. A cloud-based library or network provides a place to archive visuals for digital and print marketing materials. Establish a review and approval process so your team can efficiently produce and edit branded content.