Branding made clear

More than just a logo: a clear, attractive brand can help your organisation punch above its weight and make your marketing budget stretch further
Tags: Branding

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Since you’re reading this, chances are you already know branding is more than just a logo. You might need a new one anyway, but you know it goes further than that, and you’ve got a job on to convince your trustees – or even to be convinced yourself – that investing in branding is money well spent. But quite rightly, if we started throwing around words like ‘holistic’, ‘experiential’ or ‘immersive’, you’d close this tab immediately and go do something useful instead.

So let’s get to the bottom of this branding malarkey…

What’s a brand again?

Your brand is the identity your organisation presents to the world. You’ve got one, whether you like it or not. Whether you intentionally created one or not. It distinguishes you from everyone else.

It just might not be saying what you think it does, or wish it would.

Because, by the way, it doesn’t exist on paper or on-screen.

Your brand is the picture of your organisation that people have in their heads. It gets drawn and coloured in as a result of everything they see and hear from you, and every single interaction they have with you, from the very first to the most recent.

So, keeping it practical, that means a few things…

  1. If your brand is added to or subtracted from by everything people see and hear from you, then the fonts and typology, imagery, taglines, logos or symbols, tone of voice, colour palette, layout and design you use are all important.
  2. If you want a nice, clear picture and not mixed messages, those important elements have to fit together as a consistent identity
  3. If it will distinguish you from other organisations, that identity has to be distinctive and specific to you
  4. If your brand is the product of every interaction people have with you, then the stuff we can design – those important elements in point #1 – have to be true reflections of you, what you stand for and what’s important to you as an organisation

So what’s branding?

Branding is intentionally putting the effort in to make all that work for you – applying research, skill and creativity to give you a distinctive and attractive identity that people will recognise and associate with your organisation and its mission. To really work, it has to come from knowing and caring about your organisation and what it does, the people that make it, and what’s important to them.

And what about Rebranding?

Like people and our personalities, organisations and their brands grow and develop. Sometimes, what fits a growing brand needs to evolve to stay distinctive and effective.

When we refresh, add to and update elements of an established brand’s identity, that’s rebranding. But it isn’t just making up a cool new name or throwing out existing branding for the sake of it. The key is to be true to the personality of the brand, build on its strengths, and focus on what will have an impact.

But what for? Why’s branding important to my organisation? 

What you do is important. You work hard to have as much impact as possible. But you’re competing for attention and for funds.

Private sector companies large and small have long recognised the value of their brand as an important asset, for attracting and keeping customers, investors and staff.

The most successful charity and not-for-profit organisations have also invested in creating and maintaining clear, consistent, recognisable branding. It gives them an immediate impact and a head start with audiences and fundraising.

But even more than that, a clear, consistent brand will help people really see and feel what you stand for. To trust in and support your organisation, as one that means what it says and will use their money wisely. It will help people feel a genuine relationship with your organisation and want to sustain it – and that includes your people and volunteers.

And investing in branding as a foundation helps make all your communications go further, faster, more effectively, getting more out of your marketing budget.

Sounds nice, but at a price – with branding, do you get what you pay for?

To a point, yes, but only to a point. You can spend a few quid to get a website-generated generic logo, or a few hundred to get a real person to put one together from scratch. But that won’t help your brand. If anything, it will make things worse because it’ll be inconsistent with what you’ve already built up.

But you don’t need the bumper budget of the big dogs to do it properly. A relatively small investment to put the foundations in place will help your organisation punch above its weight, and get more value and impact from all your marketing and communications.

The key is finding a partner to work with, who’ll get to know and care about your organisation and its mission, and who has the skill and creativity to translate what you stand for into a distinctive brand that will last.

Northern Bear can help

We’re a friendly creative agency dedicated to working with charities and not-for-profit organisations.

We work with small and medium-sized organisations on branding, strategy, design, websites and campaigns to help raise awareness and funding so together we can DO MORE GOOD.

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