Revitalising Your Charity: A Complete Guide to Rebranding
Just as brands in other industries require brand updates to connect with fresh audiences, adapt to internal shifts, or align with evolving consumer preferences - brands in the charity sector require fresh branding to help them make a difference and remain relevant.
These organisations often operate with limited budgets – heavily reliant on the generosity of donors and volunteers to pursue their missions. However, even the most successful charities recognise the need to adapt and reinvent themselves to remain relevant and impactful in a constantly changing landscape. This is where the concept of branding comes into play.
Refreshing a charity brand extends beyond the mere creation of a new logo, name change, new strapline or website facelift; it represents a strategic and all-encompassing process that breathes new life into an old brand, reigniting its mission and ultimately enhancing its influence.
Rebranding efforts can entail substantial costs and time investments, sometimes seen as an ‘unnecessary expense.’ However, when done well, it can enhance understanding of a cause, expand the organisation’s reach, and generate increased support. Essentially, a revamped brand is the foundation that enables organisations in various sectors to stay competitive, relevant – and meaningful.
In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of charity rebranding – when to do it, why to do it and how to do it effectively – unveiling strategies and insights that will empower your charity -whether you’re a global titan or a small charity – to thrive.
When Change Is Necessary: Understanding the Drivers for Charity Rebranding
Deciding to undertake a brand overhaul or refresh is often a daunting task. Where do you begin, and more importantly, why might it be necessary?
When it comes to updating a charity brand, it’s not a choice to be made lightly. It’s a thoughtful, strategic move that needs a strong foundation and a clear purpose. Charities often face a dilemma: should they spend their hard-earned money and resources on a new brand identity when their main goal is to direct those resources to the people they’re helping?
However, in today’s world, having a professional image, a modern brand, effective marketing, and engaging fundraising strategies are essential. If you try to cut corners and delay a brand refresh, your brand can become outdated, failing to represent what your charity now stands for, and losing touch with the audience you need for donations. Just like in any business, success requires an investment of time, money and passion.
Often, brand refreshes or overhauls in the charity sector are motivated by the need to adapt to an ever-changing social landscape. As societal issues undergo shifts and changes, charities must keep pace to remain relevant.
Another driving force behind updated branding can be the perception of a dated or stagnant image. In a world where visual and messaging trends evolve rapidly, charities risk falling out of favour if their branding doesn’t stay current. A fresh, modern identity not only captures attention but also conveys an organisation’s commitment to remaining up-to-date and responsive to the needs of the community it serves.
Brand updates can also be a strategic move to broaden a charity’s reach. As charities seek to engage new demographics or diversify their donor base, a tailored brand strategy can make them more appealing and relatable to these audiences. This approach helps the charity connect with previously untapped supporters who may be more inclined to get involved with an organisation that resonates with their values and interests.
Last but not least, brand updates can prove to be a crucial tool for charities seeking to set themselves apart from their competitors. In a crowded nonprofit sector, where numerous organisations address similar causes, establishing a distinctive brand identity can be a game-changer. Not only does it empower the charity to define its unique value proposition clearly but enables it to assert its position as a leader in its field.
Essential Steps in Refreshing a Charity Brand
1. Build a Strong Foundation. To kickstart your journey, it’s crucial to lay a solid strategic foundation by conducting a thorough assessment of your current brand identity and how well it aligns with your charity’s mission and goals. Without taking a deep dive into your existing brand and highlighting what works and what doesn’t – you’ll struggle to craft a new brand image that resonates with your audiences and amplifies your brand.This step is essentially about gathering as much information as you possibly can. Approach this with a fresh perspective, as if you’re discovering the charity for the first time. Take a holistic approach to your charity brand and gather your initial thoughts. Analyse your marketing materials, website and social media accounts to see if they match the reality of your organisation. Consider who your charity’s brand is communicating with and pinpoint any areas that may require adjustment or improvement.
These insights will form the foundation of your brand refresh, highlighting which brand elements need updating and more importantly – why. From here, you’ll be able to create a comprehensive plan that outlines the entire rebranding process, setting clear objectives and key milestones to guide your way.
2. Engage Your Key Players. It’s always important to involve your key stakeholders in the process – right from the start. This includes everyone from your dedicated staff and volunteers and valued donors to your brand managers, chief executives and board members. Their input and insights are invaluable so be sure to encourage them to share their vision for the charity’s future identity. It’s also important to allow them to share their thoughts and feelings honestly, so consider using anonymous surveys that remove pressure and allow them to speak freely. After all, you want to hear what they really have to say about your brand.Relationship building is key, so be sure to keep your stakeholders engaged. Maintaining a strong connection with your existing donors and fostering an ongoing relationship can be as simple as staying in touch through updates, social media posts, case studies and announcements. We know it can be tempting to focus on acquiring new donors and sponsors, but it’s essential not to overlook those who already support your cause. They’ve been with your charity for a long time – so make sure to make them feel valued.
3. Craft Your Brand Identity. Define or refine your charity’s brand identity, encompassing your mission statement, brand vision, core values and unique selling points. This is all about diving into the core of your brand to uncover what drives you, who you serve, and why people should care – and contribute to your cause. Ask yourself those all-important questions to uncover what you’re all about. What is your reason for being? Who do you help? Why is it important? What role do you play? Once you have the answer to these questions, you’ll be able to craft a compelling brand story that not only resonates deeply with your audience – ensuring your charity’s narrative strikes a powerful chord – but authentically represents your charity brand.During this stage, it’s important to ensure that all of your employees and stakeholders are aligned and on the same page with the new brand identity and messaging. A mismatch between your internal and external brand perceptions can cause huge problems down the line, so be sure to provide the necessary training and resources to equip your staff and volunteers to authentically and correctly represent the brand.
Maintaining a crystal-clear mission, vision, and a concise strapline is crucial. As charities evolve and diverse teams contribute their perspectives and goals, clarity can sometimes get muddled. While it’s essential to acknowledge all viewpoints, excessive complexity can bewilder your audience. Always strive for simplicity by offering a clear mission statement and vision that both internal teams and external stakeholders can easily grasp. Summarise this into a single, impactful proposition that gets straight to the point. Consider this: What’s the ultimate value you provide through your existence? Break it down, keep it simple and you’re heading in the right direction.
4. Be Consistent With Your Messaging. You don’t need us to tell you that consistency is the key to success when in the world of branding. Without consistent and on-brand messaging, it’s all too easy for your mission, values and impact to be misunderstood, so be sure to develop a messaging strategy that consistently communicates your charity’s impact, values, and goals across all communication channels. A thorough communication plan that charts your communication strategy across all channels is always helpful as it helps you to easily spot any off-brand messaging. Not only should your messaging be consistent, but it should resonate with your various audiences. Charities typically interact with a variety of audiences, spanning from boards and frontline staff to donors and people in need. Each of these groups possesses distinct needs and concerns and it’s crucial to keep this in mind while crafting your communications.
Ask yourself if you’re addressing each audience in a way that resonates with them. Are you conveying what they genuinely want to know? What holds their interest? Developing audience personas can be an effective and straightforward technique to break through the information clutter and make sure that you’re hitting the right notes.
5. Create a Visual Identity. This is where it all comes together. Collaborate with experienced designers to breathe life into the visual aspects of your brand. This includes crafting a fresh logo, defining a harmonious colour palette, selecting typography, and creating any other brand assets you might need. These design elements should vividly reflect your charity’s values and mission, and of course, they should work in harmony with one another.Your logo and brand name hold significant weight, so be sure to pay special attention to them. When embarking on a refresh, be sure to create a logo that will stand the test of time and that is authentic, distinctive and memorable. Your logo essentially stands as the physical embodiment of your brand, so it’s paramount that it’s on-brand and authentically represents what you’re all about. Likewise, your new name stands as the verbal embodiment of your brand, so be sure that your chosen name encapsulates your identity, is easy to remember and full of positive connotations.
You want to avoid costly mistakes that require subsequent corrections, so be sure to invest the necessary time to ensure precision and consider seeking expert assistance if available.
6. Unveil your New Face. Last but not least, execute a well-planned launch campaign to introduce your revamped identity in all of its glory. Update your website, social media profiles, marketing materials and any physical branding with the new look and spread the word. Be sure to connect with your community and engage your supporters and donors in the launch to generate excitement and anticipation. You don’t want your new brand to go unnoticed so consider launching a brand campaign to generate excitement about your new identity. It doesn’t end there. After revealing your fresh identity, it’s crucial to uphold a consistent and professional approach in your marketing efforts. Maintaining a professional image consistently is key, as even a single out-of-place leaflet, website banner, or presentation can swiftly undermine your diligent branding efforts. Utilise uncomplicated templates and establish clear brand guidelines to ensure uniformity across the board. This way, you safeguard the integrity of your brand identity.
Six Tips to Ensure a Successful Charity Rebrand
1. Define Your Objectives for Impactful Change. Begin by outlining clear and specific goals for your charity’s branding efforts. Are you aiming to expand your donor base, revamp your public image, or better convey your organisation’s evolving mission and impact? Having well-defined objectives will be your guiding star throughout the entire process, so it’s pivotal to define your goals early on. For example, if you are a wildlife conservation charity, your objective might be to attract a younger demographic of eco-conscious supporters.
2. Conduct Comprehensive Research. Delve into a deep analysis of your charity’s existing brand. Seek feedback from not only your donors and volunteers but also your beneficiaries and partner organisations. Conduct thorough research on your target audience’s needs, tastes and preferences and consider conducting competitor analysis. For instance, if your charity focuses on providing education in underserved communities, understanding the specific needs and aspirations of the children and families you serve is key.
3. Establish a Distinctive Brand Strategy. Develop a robust brand strategy that encapsulates your charity’s mission, vision, and core values. Ensure that your branding strategy reflects your organisation’s inherent purpose and effectively communicates its cause. For example, if your charity works to combat hunger, your brand strategy might emphasise the urgency of addressing food insecurity and the dignity of providing meals to those in need.
4. Tell a Compelling Impact Story. Storytelling is always of the utmost importance, so be sure to craft a moving and compelling narrative that connects emotionally with your audience. Share real-life stories of the lives your charity has touched and the transformations it has made possible. Not only will this amplify your mission but will provide tangible examples of the important work your charity does. For example, if your charity provides clean water access, share stories of communities liberated from waterborne diseases thanks to your efforts.
5. Communicate the Change Effectively. Keep your stakeholders informed at every step of the rebranding process. Clearly articulate the reasons behind the refresh and how it will reinforce your charity’s mission. Share your success stories, impact, and the outcomes your supporters have helped achieve. This builds trust and commitment and makes your supporters feel valued and personally involved in your actions. For instance, if your charity focuses on animal welfare, be sure to show how the transformation aligns with the evolving needs of the animals you protect.Don’t shy away from leveraging the power of your existing network of donors and volunteers to champion the rebrand. Encourage them to share the news through social media, emails, and word-of-mouth. By transforming your loyal supporters into advocates who can amplify your charity’s message, you will organically amplify the reach of your brand, attracting new supporters along the way.
6. Measure, Adapt, and Amplify Impact. A rebrand doesn’t end after you’ve unveiled your new identity, and after introducing your updated brand, you should closely monitor its impact on your charity’s performance. Analyse whether you are attracting new supporters, if donations are increasing, and how the public perception of your charity has evolved. From here, you’ll be able to use data and feedback to make necessary adjustments, continuously improving your brand’s resonance and impact in the world.
Common Challenges in Charity Rebranding
Just like any brand makeover, charity rebranding presents its own set of hurdles. Here, we delve into the specific challenges that many third-sector organisations may encounter during this transformative process.
Resistance to Change
One of the most significant challenges in charity rebranding is resistance from within the organisation itself. Staff, volunteers, and board members may be attached to the existing brand and hesitant to embrace change. It’s essential to communicate the reasons for a brand update and involve these stakeholders in the process. Make sure that they understand the reasons for the change and even better – are excited to see where your new identity will lead you.
Balancing Tradition with Innovation
Many charities have a long history and tradition associated with their brand. A brand refresh while preserving the organisation’s heritage can be challenging. Finding the right balance between tradition and innovation is crucial to avoid alienating long-time supporters.
A brand overhaul can be resource-intensive, requiring funds for design, marketing and outreach efforts. Smaller charities, in particular, may face budget constraints, making it challenging to execute a comprehensive branding strategy. Careful financial planning is essential to overcome this challenge.
A poorly executed brand update can damage the reputation of a charity. If stakeholders perceive the branding as insincere or inconsistent with the organisation’s mission, it can erode trust. Mitigating this risk requires careful planning and execution and of course, thorough research in the initial stages.
Charities often have diverse donor and supporter bases. Tailoring the brand update to resonate with different audience segments can be challenging. A one-size-fits-all approach may not be effective, requiring targeted messaging and outreach.
Transforming Charities: Real-world Examples
In 2020, right in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) made a bold and strategic decision: they decided to take a fresh look at their brand identity. This was no small matter, as a decade earlier, in 2010, the organisation had undergone a brand transformation, becoming Action on Hearing Loss.
However, the challenges posed by the pandemic, particularly the isolation it brought to the forefront, prompted RNID to go back to its roots and revert to its original name, RNID. This marked the beginning of an exciting journey to reshape their brand and reconnect with their audience.
At the core of their mission lies a steadfast commitment to improving the lives of individuals grappling with hearing loss, including tinnitus, through innovative research and practical support. As part of their comprehensive brand update, RNID redefined their purpose, aiming to foster a more inclusive environment for people facing hearing-related challenges. A striking new logo and a vibrant colour palette were introduced as visual symbols of their reinvigorated identity.
To spread the word about this transformative shift, RNID harnessed the power of digital media by releasing a compelling YouTube video. This video not only showcased their cause but also emphasised the profound significance of their new branding campaign. This move underscored RNID’s unwavering dedication to evolving and adapting, even in the face of the most daunting circumstances, all in the service of bettering the lives of the communities they serve.
2. Macmillan Cancer Support
In 2006, Macmillan’s brand identity underwent a noteworthy transformation. Their goal? To broaden their appeal to a more diverse range of fundraisers, spanning different generations – from young people to Baby Boomers – and embracing various cultural backgrounds.
Beyond inclusivity, their rebranding aimed to capture the essence of optimism in their work. They wanted to inspire individuals grappling with cancer to embrace life more fully, shifting the focus away from end-of-life care.
With this in mind, their revamped logo embraced a more playful and vibrant look, featuring a bubbly font in a lively shade of green. Meanwhile, their secondary colour palette expanded to include an array of cheerful colours, such as yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, red, orange, and brown, radiating energy and positivity.
To complement these visual changes, Macmillan introduced a series of illustrations spotlighting everyday items like teacups and gardens. This made their materials more relatable and accessible to a wider audience. In line with this, their brand voice adopted a positive, approachable, and everyday tone, perfectly aligning with their renewed mission to inspire and support those affected by cancer in leading vibrant and fulfilling lives.
3. Cancer Research
This year marked a significant turning point for Cancer Research as they set out to revamp their image with a fresh dose of optimism and digital prowess, breaking a decade-long status quo.
In this bold makeover, the charity made calculated choices to convey a message of vitality and simplicity. They waved goodbye to the sombre greys in their logo, instead embracing the enduring magenta and blue hues, symbolising the essence of life itself. Their goal was clear: create a logo that seamlessly fits into the digital landscape. By discarding the overlapping circles and grey tones, which unintentionally hinted at lifelessness, the new logo elegantly forms a unified circle, craftily shaping the letter C. This visual symbol beautifully encapsulates the collective strength required to triumph over cancer.
In their pursuit of authenticity, they carefully curated a fresh bank of photography, opting for images that radiate humanity and sincerity, removing anything that felt sterile or contrived.
Furthermore, they devised a new strapline and brand strategy to fortify their mission. At its core, Cancer Research is a charitable organisation dedicated to eradicating cancer through groundbreaking research, innovative treatments, and steadfast support for those impacted by the disease. Their revamped identity mirrors this unity, vitality, and determination in the face of this life-altering illness.
Ready to Revamp Your Charity’s Identity?
Charity rebrands offer an excellent opportunity to expand your influence, strengthen your brand, and ultimately advance your vital mission. Instead of perceiving a charity brand update as a daunting task, consider it an exciting chance to invigorate and reintroduce your organisation to the public.
We understand the dedication required to create a successful brand, and whether you’re short on time or after expert insights, we are seasoned branding specialists who would love to help rejuvenate your brand.
As a dynamic design agency based in London, we take pride in collaborating with incredible charities, and we’d be delighted to assist you in enhancing your cause with a new brand identity that empowers, connects, and resonates.
If you need some assistance refreshing, updating, or strengthening your charity’s brand, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’d love to contribute to your mission.