Is your brand really more than your logo? | PBA

A logotype collection of well-known world brand's printed on paper. Include Google, McDonald's, Nike, Coca-Cola, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo, YouTube, and others.

In the not-for-profit sector, many brands have strong names or logo recognition but while this is important, NFPs must also create a strong connection between their brand and their audiences if they are to stand out and survive in this cluttered and competitive environment, writes brand strategist Caroline Healy.

More and more NFPs are competing for clients, funding and awareness not only against other NFPs but also with for-profits who are entering the market. This means all organisations need to understand exactly what their brand stands for to ensure it connects with audiences. It’s key to understanding why your audience would choose your service, give you funds or promote your cause over another so that you can build your marketing and customer experience around this. 

So, can you say your brand is more than your logo? 

Brand is perception

A brand isn’t something you can physically hold or see, but the feelings and opinions that people hold about your organisation as a result of their interactions, whether that be through a Facebook ad, radio commercial, flyer at the doctor’s or in-person contact as a client. It’s the perception of your organisation – how your audience knows, understands and perceives you. 

When people hear your organisation’s name, do they think ethical, trustworthy, successful? Or do they think innovative, leading and altruistic? Most importantly, do they think what you want them to? 

Knowing what you want clients and other stakeholders to think about your brand is critical. It’s this position that informs your visual identity and marketing. Being in control of this ensures you meet clients’ needs effectively. If your brand doesn’t trigger a connection, in the increasingly competitive NFP sector, clients and donors won’t choose you over others who do the same great work.

Brand is also a promise 

Your brand makes an overt promise to stakeholders. It could be to provide clean water, connect people living with disabilities to employment or to reconnect someone with their community. Whatever it is, the experience needs to live up to that promise. If your promise is delivered, your brand is maintained or enhanced, but if the promise isn’t delivered, trust and connection with clients can be damaged. 

It only takes one bad deed to ruin a good reputation, so when organisations don’t deliver on their brand promise, due to poor service, then clients start to look elsewhere to get their needs met. In the NFP sector, this is getting much easier than in the past, with the shift to client choice and the introduction of systems like the National Disability Insurance Scheme. 

Brand is not a logo 

Your logo is one way to bring your brand to life. It’s a visual representation and expression of who you are and what you do. Logos and names are important, but far more important is knowing what your brand’s promise is and building a service and customer experience that delivers on this promise. 

When your brand is managed, it is an asset that can attract clients, donors and funding. Strong brands with clear promises also create a sustainable competitive advantage. So, it’s worth articulating your brand promise and knowing why, where, when and how your brand should and shouldn’t be used. This will help your organisation attract and maintain clients. 

When your audience looks at your brand, they aren’t just seeing an image and a name. They may think they are, but what they are seeing is what you stand for, your values, promise and reputation. This shouldn’t be by chance; it should be strategic. 

Knowing what your brand stands for will ensure your NFP connects with audiences over competitors, and that your brand is more than a logo. 


About the author: Caroline Healy is a brand strategist, marketing and communications leader and the principal consultant at Healy Business Consulting. She has over 20 years’ brand, marketing and communications experience, specialising in developing engaging and practical strategies that make an impact. Caroline has worked across the not-for-profit sector in mental health, community services and education.

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