[Slides + Exercise] Start Defining Your Nonprofit Brand

This week I’m speaking at the 2017 On Board Conference at University of Chicago. I’ll be joined by co-presenter Nancy Goldstein, Chief Strategist at Compass(X), to lead a session on Why Brands Matter for Nonprofits.

Brands matter a lot - a strong brand can clearly communicate who your organization is and what you stand for through something as simple as a logo, a color, or a tag line.

However, it can be hard for nonprofits to develop a clear, consistent brand until they have a deeper understanding of the people that brand is really for: their audiences.

We talk a lot about how important your audience is - they’re the hero of your story, the engine that drives your organization’s work forward, the whole reason you’re able to make an impact in the world.

In See3 and Compass(X)’s presentation for On Board, we discuss how understanding your audience is a critical first step to building a great brand, and an ongoing priority for sustaining brands that are already strong. You can check out a sneak peak of the presentation here:


If you can’t join us at the conference, here’s short exercise you can do on your own or with your communications team to help you develop a deeper understanding of your target audience. This exercise should take about 10-20 minutes to complete. If you’re doing it in a group, answer these questions on your own and then spend some time sharing our your responses in the larger group.
  1. Who are your organization’s key audiences? Who are the people you want to move to action? These might include donors, volunteers, or constituents. Try to develop detailed, narrow descriptions of 2-3 unique audiences. For inspiration, check out some of the audience personas we developed for our client Make-A-Wish.

    For example, if you want to target donors - what level of donors? Small dollar? Big dollar? How old are they, where did they go to school, where do they work? What motivates them to give? Why do they care about your organization?

  2. Great brands provide clear value to their audiences. What is your organization an expert in that could be useful to those audiences? How can you provide value to them?

After completing this exercise, you should have a rough idea of who your target audiences are, and a better understanding of how your organization speaks to their needs. You can use this knowledge to influence the development of your organization’s brand identity, and as a guidepost for creating content that drives users to action.

Want to learn more from our On Board presentation? Follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #onboard2017.

Author: Bridgett Colling
  • Conference
  • nonprofit
  • Brand
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