Charity Branding – Why A Strong Brand Matters
In today's highly competitive landscape, charity branding faces more competition than ever before. As trust in the sector declines and numerous brands adopt social purposes, it becomes increasingly vital for charities to establish a strong and resilient brand identity.
Branding a charity goes beyond designing a nice logo for your website or creating a snappy strapline. It’s about creating a unique identity that resonates with your organisation’s mission, values and target audience, using your brand assets to propel your message and positively differentiating your brand.
A robust brand distinguishes a charity from others, fosters trust and credibility, forms emotional bonds with supporters and volunteers, facilitates effective communication, and contributes to long-term sustainability and expansion.
Whether you’re an existing charity or NGO looking to rebrand or a new voluntary organisation looking to make your mark, this ultimate guide is for you. Here, we’ll delve into the process of building a brand, examine its significance, and discover how it can help your charitable organisation achieve its goals while making a meaningful world impact.
Let’s dive in!
What is charity branding?
Similar to for-profit companies, charities also rely on the power of branding to establish a deep connection with their audience. Whether it’s McDonald’s or Martlets, all brands incorporate strong brand identity designs into their marketing strategies to help them rise above the competition. Developing a strong brand identity supported by a well-defined brand strategy is crucial for charities to showcase their purpose, values, and missions effectively.
Essentially, branding for charities involves the art of crafting a unique identity and reputation for nonprofit organisations. It encompasses strategic marketing and communication approaches to create a distinct identity that effectively communicates the charity’s mission, values, and impact to its target audience.
By carefully considering visual elements – such as a memorable charity logo, an impactful website, distinct brand colours, a consistent tone of voice, eye-catching typography, considered fonts and an unforgettable name – as well as storytelling, and communication channels, branding for charities strives to establish a recognisable and coherent image that actively engages supporters, fosters trust, and cultivates meaningful connections with individuals who share a passion for the cause.
Regardless of the industry, successful brands always have a comprehensive and well-executed strategy in place. This strategy empowers organisations to influence how they are perceived and shapes the crucial aspects of their brand image and reputation.
Why should my charity care about branding?
Branding is a critical consideration for all brands. A strong brand strategy should centre all branding projects. It goes beyond merely setting your brand apart in the competitive charity sector; effective branding has the potential to inspire fundraising efforts and drive impactful marketing campaigns that generate positive buzz.
Essentially, impactful branding can amplify your charity’s strong brand and distinguishes you from other organisations, enabling you to effectively communicate your values, goals, brand purpose and accomplishments to potential donors, volunteers, and beneficiaries. It builds trust, credibility, and recognition, instilling confidence in your cause.
A well-crafted brand strategy cultivates a sense of emotional connection, inspiring people to support and champion your charity. It attracts resources, fosters partnerships, and opens doors to new opportunities.
By taking branding seriously, your charity can harness its power to create a distinct identity that motivates supporters, fuels donations, and sparks meaningful engagement. Embracing branding as a strategic priority enables you to unlock opportunities for growth and establish a reputation that resonates with your audience, ultimately bolstering your ability to make a lasting difference.
And, don’t just take our word for it – according to CharityComms’ 2019 report, ‘Branding Inside Out,’ effective branding for charities increases the number of donations a charitable organisation can receive.
Tips to get your charity branding process started
Creating a strong identity for your charity and connecting with your audience starts with branding. To get you started, here are some tips:
1. Identify your mission and values:
Clearly state your charity’s core values and purpose and craft a compelling mission statement that brings them all together. This will help you establish a solid foundation for your branding efforts, providing a useful guide for your visual identity.
2. Research your target audience:
Take a deep dive into your audience’s world to truly understand the demographics, interests, and needs of the people you aim to serve or engage with. This knowledge will inform your branding decisions and ensure that your messaging resonates with them effectively.
3. Conduct a brand audit:
Evaluate your brand presence including your website, social media accounts, printed materials, and any existing logos or visual assets. Assess what is working and what isn’t, and identify areas for improvement or brand realignment.
4. Develop a compelling brand story:
Craft a narrative that communicates the unique story behind your charity. Why do you exist? What do you aim to achieve? What impact do you have? An engaging and captivating brand story not only resonates with your audience but helps them connect emotionally with your cause.
5. Create a strong visual identity:
This is where you dive into the distinct graphic design elements that bring your brand to life. Whether it’s your logo design, colour palette or typography – each and every element should align with your brand’s values and resonates with your audience. Consistency is key.
6. Build a consistent brand voice:
Establish the tone and style of your brand. Are you approachable, informative or helpful? No matter what tone you choose, keep it consistent across all platforms – from social media to official correspondence.
7. Involve your stakeholders:
We hope this one goes without saying. During the branding process, be sure to seek input from your staff, volunteers and donors. Obtaining a 360-degree perspective is essential, and their input and perspective can provide valuable insights and ensure that your brand resonates across the board.
8. Develop brand guidelines:
These are an integral part of all branding strategies. Create a comprehensive set of brand guidelines that document your brand’s visual elements, voice, messaging, and usage guidelines. This will help maintain consistency across all communication channels and ensure everyone understands and adheres to the brand’s identity.
Iconic Identities: Leading Charity Brands
Brands in the charity sector traditionally highlight their vision, mission, and values in their brand strategies. Recent years, however, have seen an increase in brands emphasising their brand personality and purpose. Listed below are a few brands that have mastered the art of branding, responding to consumers’ needs for more authentic and personable brands and engaging them emotionally.
1. Cancer Research UK
In 2012, Cancer Research underwent a complete transformation to enhance accessibility, transparency, and appreciation. They introduced a new brand personality and logo, aiming to increase fundraising activities for their scientific research endeavours. The rebranding effort distinguishes them as more engaging, bold, and courageous, complemented by a vibrant tone of voice.
With its renowned Race For Life event, the brand fearlessly empowers individuals to confront cancer and defy expectations together – as a collaborative, united front. Emerging as an undeniable force in the world of branding for charities, their logo and brand colours have become synonymous with hope, strength and togetherness, inspiring resilience in the battle against cancer.
Through compelling and empathetic communications that deeply resonates on an emotional level, a cohesive visual identity, and a recognisable brand logo, Cancer Research UK establishes a profound connection with their audience. Their human-centric approach places individuals affected by cancer at the forefront of the narrative, drawing people from all walks of life to rally behind their cause. By actively involving supporters, volunteers, and researchers in their messaging and initiatives, they foster a shared purpose and cultivate a network of passionate advocates.
Macmillan has established itself as a true leader in the charity sector. Having rebranded the charity in 2006, it has been able to connect with a broader range of people from a variety of backgrounds. As a result, Macmillan not only improved in terms of audience perception but also became one of the most recognisable non-profit organisations.
With a commitment to providing physical, emotional, and financial support to the public, the brand has earned a high level of respect. According to a study by YouGov, Macmillan has the best brand health among charities. Their distinctive brand identity, friendly font, carefully chosen brand colours (such as green, a colour that evokes compassion, empathy, and solidarity, and is associated with health), and strong marketing strategy have solidified their leadership position in the charity sector. Moreover, their approach to fundraising and resource allocation is transparent and accountable, further enhancing their credibility.
3. Parkinson’s UK
By carefully balancing empathy and empowerment, Parkinson’s UK extends vital support to individuals and families affected by the debilitating condition. Originally known as the Parkinson’s Disease Society, this charity underwent a successful rebranding in 2010. Recognised with a Design Business Association Design Effectiveness Award, their five-year growth plan surpassed all expectations by raising over £122 million. Moreover, their emphasis on finding a cure transformed the charity branding landscape, catalysing a shift towards perceiving charities as social movements.
The strength of their brand is a testament to their unwavering commitment to enhancing lives. They tirelessly champion research, advocate for policy changes, and provide invaluable resources and services. The organisation embraces innovation to confront Parkinson’s challenges head-on, continuously exploring new research, technologies, and approaches to improve outcomes and empower individuals. Their adaptability ensures they remain relevant in an ever-changing landscape. Armed with compelling storytelling, impactful campaigns, and a distinctive visual identity, this award-winning brand has left an indelible mark in the hearts and minds of millions.
Looking to start your own charity branding journey?
Organisations of all types and missions reap the benefits of distinct brand identities and strong branding strategies.
In the charity sector, effective branding plays a crucial role in advancing your cause, showcasing the essence of your foundation, and forging emotional connections with your desired audience. It not only facilitates new donations but also raises awareness for your mission. It’s a win-win.
As a branding consultancy specialising in bringing brands of all shapes, sizes and sectors to life, we’d love to help you kickstart, refresh or remould your charity branding. Whether you’re looking to reach new audiences, boost funding, polish your digital presence or spread awareness for your cause – we’re here to help.