Most of the you burning ones didn't set out to have a good brand. You set out for a cause that consumed your thoughts, your dreams, your free time and your not-so-free time. You had an idea of how to improve the world and you started doing it, then found others continuing to join you until you realized you were a structure and an organization. Many non-profits and organizations don't set out with a clear vision, detailed plans, and a 20 year goal beyond seeing the world free, loved, and better. They just start doing and their brand develops along the way. If this is your story, great, we can help you reign it in. If this isn't your story, and you're just starting out, even better - we can help you too.
First off, your brand is more than your logo and your colors. It is the promise of who you are and how customers can expect to engage with you. “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”– Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon
So how do we tailor this to fit you? I'm so glad you asked.
1) Be your part of the puzzle.
This usually comes up when we ask "who is your target audience?" and we receive the answer "Everyone. All people." Unfortunately, you are not the answer to the whole problem, you are a part of the solution. You need to find out what part you play? Is your congregation mainly inner city youth? 20's-30's hipsters and young families or bikers and ex-druggies? Are you solving sex-trafficking by informing and resourcing? Prosecuting offenders and creating legislation? Setting up exit stratigies and recovery homes?
We know you'll want to reach everyone and do everything, but that's not your part. Ask yourself, what is my part of the puzzle? What is our role in the bigger picture? Who do we want and need to reach to achieve that? This is who you are talking to. This is who you will need to find out what they need you to be for them. This process is called finding your target audience.
2) Be specific.
Once you know who you're talking to, you can figure out what makes you different than everyone else. You’ll be able to represent you more.
Here’s 10 questions from a Forbes Article "10 Questions to Help You Find Your Brand’s Voice" that we integrate as part of our branding process that can help you start to clarify who you are. If you find yourself answering in a general sense, ask yourself “Yes, but what makes us different from others?” If you were the same, then you would have joined them instead of having your own organization.
- What does your organization do?
- Why did you start your organization?
- Why do people visit your website?
- Who are your customers/vistors?
- Why do people choose your organization over your competitors?
- What other brand voices do you admire?
- If your brand were a person, how would you describe him or her?
- How do you want people to feel when they visit your website?
- Can you describe your company in 3-5 words?
- What do you love about your job?
3) Be sustainable.
A good marketing or branding company shouldn’t tell you what your brand is, but they should pull out who you are and help you adjust, grow, and tailor your voice to your audience. They could make you sound perfect, but you have to daily to live it out and back up the promises you made.
For example: If you're solely online, then it's often easier to portray yourself as something you want to be. You can cast vision with how big you are, how funny your tone is, and how good looking everyone is, and how much enjoyment they can expect from you. If you are interacting daily in person, your promises will be tested on different levels. People will interact with you to know if you really are as funny, sarcastic, professional, classy, comfortable as you promised. People want authentic. You can still state who you want to be, but don't promise smooth and relaxing if your workers are high energy and your chairs are stiff.
4) Be consistent.
Now that you've figured out your personality, tone, vibe, and promises, you can start to apply them across the board. The easiest way to do this is to ask how your brand affects your business.
“How does [brand characteristic] affect [aspect of business]?”
For example: how does new hipster coffeeshop for artistic students affect our customer service? Our product packaging? Our prices? Our customer service? Or, How does hopeful, inspiring, informative anti-sex trafficking affect our messaging? Photo selection? The way we answer the phones?
Asking this question allows you to keep everything consistent and fitting together. When you step back it, your whole businesses should look uniform and like everything fits in place. You’ll notice the things that don't jive very well.
5) Be slow to implement changes.
Most organizations are lead by visionaries. A visionary has many great strengths, but one of the weaknesses of many visionaries is the follow through. Find something you like, sleep on it a few days or a week and then come back to it. You’ll see it with a fresh pair of eyes and then know what you still like and what needs adjusted.
If you’ve been in business for a while and you have your faithful follwing, then you will need to start transitioning things slowly. Benjamin L. Merkle shared an illustration in his book “40 Questions about Elders and Deacons” of a new pastor being fired because he moved the piano from one side of the church to the other. Years later, he visited the church and found the piano where he wanted and asked how the new pastor did it without being fired. He responded, “One inch at a time.” Transition takes time for people who have already bought in and like how things are going for you.
Create a transition process to help the faithful transition. Get a new logo, then a new website, then painting the walls, then new furniture, then new behavior. Visuals are always easier to change than behavior. Once you change the environment around the person, they will adjust to behavior and brand changes as well. We helped one chimney sweeping company in their brand shift campaign moving from "Flue Season" to "White Glove" with postcards to their thousands of faithful clients.
Now you’re ready. As you are branding your own organization, remember to be you, be your part of the puzzle and that will allows you to continually be yourself and be consistent in all you do. Then, don’t rush the horse. Give ideas some time to marinate and be slow to implement the changes if you’ve got the faithful with you. You'll do great! Enjoy discovering even more of you!