Our own Mel Quinlan: Branding for Nonprofits

As a board member of the Rensselaer County Chamber of Commerce Mel was featured in the “Ask the Expert” column of the Chamber’s monthly newsletter.

Q: Why is branding important to nonprofits?
A:  Nonprofits usually focus resources on their mission but they also need to attract private donors, corporate sponsors and volunteers who feel confident they are devoting time and money to the right cause. That’s where a strong brand makes a difference. Your brand has to clearly show your core message and it needs to appeal to people on an emotional level. Branding is the art of communicating your message clearly, and with the greatest impact, in order to influence your target audience.

Q: How does it differ from business branding?
A: Business branding is about trying to find a unique way to differentiate yourself from a sea of similar businesses. Nonprofits are usually unique in what they offer, so differentiation isn’t the main concern. But since there are so many other nonprofits competing for the same funding, you want to tell your story in a more compelling way. Noprofit branding is about building an emotional connection so the public feels compelled to not only donate to the cause but help move its message along to others. One major agency describes it as “Loyalty beyond reason.” That’s where you want to be.

Q:What are some basic dos and don’ts?
A: Your website is the strongest vehicle. Invest in photos and videos–a picture is still worth a thousand words–and you want to connect emotionally. Don’t be concerned that things will look too expensive. Focus on your message and make it as impactful as possible. It’s also imperative to have all collateral consistent and true to your established brand, even when there are different agencies involved in the production of your materials (and even if they are donated.) Otherwise you risk diluting your message.

Oberlander Group has been helping clients deliver their message with award-winning design and communications for 25 years by creating websites, printed communications, advertising (print, digital, electronic) and identity programs. For more information visit oberlandergroup.com or contact John Oberlander at 518-720-0050 x222 or jober@oberlandergroup.com.