I can't tell you how many times a new client says, "Everyone thinks we must do better branding." Well, they're right. All organizations can be better at branding.
The key is figuring out what your most important issues are, and how the disciplines of brand marketing can help solve them. On a limited budget. In a measurable way. To the satisfaction of a wide ranging group of stakeholders. Without driving you into fits of exasperation. Sound familiar?
How do you boil down a complicated mission and complex range of programs into a simple message that resonates with your most important audiences? This is tough. The simple message has to appeal to donors. It has to set you apart. And it has to be something that works for a diverse group of messengers. It's also the very essence of effective "brand strategy."
Something tells you that the old logo isn't working hard enough. It's dated. It's missing half of our mission. It doesn't work in all applications, such as the web (!). Substitute another aspect of brand identity for "logo" and, yes, that's a branding problem.
Step 1 is making sure that the underlying brand strategy is the best it can be. If it is, refreshing the brand identity can actually be rather straightforward.
Having a major project – such as a new brochure – that leads you into a branding exercise is actually one of the best ways to do it. The discipline of creating the piece/website/activity is great for focus and for testing out ideas. In fact, if you are going to do "branding" I recommend doing a large project such as this simultaneously. Redoing a website is perfect because it requires you to do it all.
One of the most annoying things about marketing is that someone keeps inventing new things to do. Twitter: really? Strong branding is one of the best ways to cope with this. The principles of branding apply in all media, and strong brands rise above the clutter.
The bad news: The inventing will continue and yes, someday you will have to think about how your brand tweets.
You'll see that among my best practices are the importance of managing your dual bottom lines and making sure that marketing is closely aligned with development. Part of sound brand strategy is working out the messaging strategy that will help your fund-raisers best explain the organization's mission to donor prospects.
Anyone who is trying to raise money for your organization will encounter this issue at some point – if not all the time. A critical aspect of brand strategy is making your organization stand out in a meaningful way – making you memorable. Everything you do will be easier if the people you are trying to influence already know something positive about you.