April 25, 2018

Why your nonprofit needs brand guidelines—and how to create them

Filed under: Branding — Tags: , , , , , — lidia @ 5:13 pm
Why your nonprofit needs brand guidelines

Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

I work with many nonprofits in Chicago, and one of the reasons they choose to work with me is because they need help bringing consistency to their branding and marketing materials.

For an established organization (or even a new one), branding can start to become diluted over time, with marketing materials using multiple versions of logos, colors and images that are not on-brand, and messaging that is not targeted or audience-focused. This is where brand guidelines can make a big impact.

What are brand guidelines?

Brand guidelines (also sometimes called brand standards, style guides, identity guides or graphic standards) provide a detailed overview of your organization’s branding—from the graphic look and feel to the overall voice and tone. It assures that everyone in your organization—as well as outside partners and vendors—are expressing your brand consistently and accurately.

Since many nonprofit leaders or managers handle most (if not all) marketing tasks internally, having strong brand guidelines can make marketing and promotion of your organization much easier as there is always a reference point. Plus, it keeps everyone inside and outside the organization on the same page (literally!) And most importantly, it allows you to focus on what you do best—sharing your mission and serving others.

Why your nonprofit needs brand guidelines

  1. Consistency: It keeps your branding and marketing consistent across all print and online media.
  2. Efficiency: When you have a reference point for your marketing pieces, you can create them more quickly and efficiently.
  3. Professionalism: When all of your marketing materials are consistent and on-brand, it helps to emphasize your experience and competency
  4. Convenience: When everything is in one place, it helps your partners and vendors (such as graphic designers, photographers, writers and print vendors) do their job faster and easier
  5. Budget: When design elements and other brand-related files are easily accessible, projects can be completed faster and more economically.
  6. Accuracy: When brand details are easily accessible, it helps to avoid costly mistakes such as using the wrong color or font on a printed piece.
  7. Timing: When everything is in one place, necessary brand assets (i.e. logos or brand colors) can be easily accessed when needed and project delays can be avoided.
  8. Onboarding: New employees (and vendors) can get to know your organization quickly and easily, so they can get to work faster. It also provides them a constant reference as they get acquainted with their new job and assures that they are sharing your message accurately.

What should be included in brand guidelines

A good set of brand guidelines will assure everything people see and experience related to your organization is an accurate expression of your brand. So, what should be included?

Before getting started, think about how your organization will use the guidelines:

  • What types (and channels) of marketing do you use? (i.e. print, digital, social media, in-person events)
  • Will your in-house team mainly use them or will you share them with outside vendors?
  • If you work with outside vendors, what types of work do they produce? (i.e. brochures, flyers, advertising, email marketing, social media, video)

At the very least, the following should be included in brand guidelines:

  • Mission statement and vision statement: including verbiage about how they relate to your overall brand.
  • Logo usage: including sizing requirements, clear space (the space around the logo that separates it from other design elements), logotypes and icons, logo lockups (i.e. if the logo should always appear with another element such as a tagline, date or URL). It’s also a good to include misuse examples, for example: the logo should not be stretched disproportionately or used smaller than ¼”.
  • Taglines: including when and how to use the tagline, and where it should be placed in relation to the logo.
  • Fonts and typography: including allowable primary and secondary fonts for both print and online usage. Optionally, include examples and/or suggested usage for headlines and body copy.
  • Color palette: including primary and secondary color palettes for print (Pantone, CMYK) and digital or presentation (RGB, HEX) usage.
  • Imagery: including suggested types of photography and illustration that should be used, as well as when images should be used. May also include recommended website for purchasing stock photography or illustration and/or image guidelines for in-house or contracted photographers.

Depending on your organization’s needs, you may also want to include:

  • Voice and tone: including writing guidelines for print marketing, as well as digital marketing such as blogs and social media outlets.
  • Sample layouts: including commonly-used marketing templates such as business cards, stationery, flyers, print ads and social media posts.
  • Social media/content marketing guidelines: including an overview of how your brand will be expressed on social media or content marketing (if available, include an overview or links to the organization’s social media/content marketing strategy and editorial calendar)
  • Guest author guidelines: including guidelines for writers who will contribute articles to the organization’s website, blog or social media.
  • PR reference: including organization blurbs (several versions ranging from a 5-word blurb to several paragraphs), staff bios, headshots, and other materials that may be needed for PR opportunities. Include filenames and shared drive locations for easy access by all staff members and contractors.
  • Email signature: what should be included (logo, name, title, email, phone number, legal verbiage, other relevant links) as well as the specified format (text, HTML). Have a template handy on a shared drive to supply to new employees or contractors.

This may sound like a lot of work, but it can be as simple or complex as your organization needs.

And enlisting the help of a branding designer can make it much easier. Believe me, it will all pay off in the end. As a designer, I know how frustrating it can be to search for logos, color specs and other necessary design elements when working on a project.

Want to see examples?

Sometimes the best way to get started developing brand guidelines is to see what others are doing. A good place to start is by Googling “nonprofit brand guidelines”.

Or check out this roundup of 80+ brand and identity guidelines from various organizations and brands around the world.

If you need help developing your org’s brand guidelines, reach out to me—I would love to help!

January 29, 2018

Recap: how I made an impact in 2017

Filed under: Featured Design Project — Tags: , , , , , — lidia @ 11:07 am

How I made a difference in 2017

2017 was a great year for Lidia Varesco Design. I’m proud to to have collaborated with organizations who are making a difference by:

  • Helping Veterans discover their full potential
  • Responding to children in need
  • Providing housing for the elderly and adults with disabilities
  • Preventing homelessness of individuals, families and veterans
  • Bringing development opportunities to underserved and at-risk young people
  • Educating young professionals to interact, grow and prosper through actionable education
  • Promoting a passion for learning and a commitment to local and global communities

I have always loved working with organizations who are making a difference but now that I’m a mom, I’m even more passionate about making the world—my kids’ world—a better place.

Other ways I had the opportunity to make a difference in 2017

I was able to connect with local nonprofits and small business owners and share my expertise by:

Now booking speaking dates for 2018!

If you are interested in hosting or attending a 10-Minute Marketing or Branding 101 workshop, send me a note.

August 28, 2017

September 21, 2016

FEATURED DESIGN PROJECT: Benefit Invitation Branding & Design

Filed under: Featured Design Project — Tags: , , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

RSSI Benefit Invitation Design

I worked with Renaissance Social Services (RSSI) to develop branding for their annual fundraising benefit event—which happens to be held right here in my West Loop neighborhood (at Wishbone Restaurant, one of my faves!) Our goal was to express their theme while getting across the organization’s important mission.

I designed the event logo, invitation, mailing envelope, reply card and envelope, and email graphics.

Buy tickets to the event on Sept. 26.

RSSI aims to find safe and secure housing for the men, women and families and to provide them with the services they’ll need to lead lives of health, dignity and stability.

April 4, 2016

A to Z of Branding: C is for client

Filed under: Branding — Tags: , — lidia @ 4:27 pm

A to Z of Branding: C is for client

C is for client

Branding is not based on what you think about your organization, but rather what your client thinks about it—from the moment they discover you through the experience of working with you.

This is why a “client first” approach to branding must be incorporated into all aspects of your marketing and outreach (i.e. logo/identity, marketing materials, website, social media, PR, client outreach and office/environment interaction).

In the words of Al Ries, a prominent author on branding: “The primary objective of a branding program is always the mind of the prospect.”

ACTIVITY: Take a look at your current marketing materials and ask yourself: am I speaking to my client, their unique problems or passions?

Follow along with the A to Z of Branding daily blog series here or on twitter at #AtoZBranding

October 29, 2014

5 lessons learned at the 2014 Brand New Conference

Filed under: Branding,Creativity — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

2014 Brand New Cnference in chicago

I recently attended the Brand New Conference in Chicago, a 2-day event that focuses on corporate and brand identity.

In addition to having the best lanyards and stage set-up ever (see above), the conference shared branding wisdom from designers from around the world. In fact, the conference itself was a perfect example of branding at work.

5 lessons learned

  1. Use all of your experiences as influence for your work. (Lance Wyman)
  2. Craft is still important in design. (discussed by most of the speakers)
  3. Use your environment as inspiration. (Sebastian Padilla)
  4. Strategy and brand positioning are the foundation for design solutions. (Sol Sender)
  5. Use your skills to make an impact. (Justin Ahrens)

Heading to a conference soon? Read my tips for designing the perfect conference experience.

May 2, 2014

10-Minute Marketing: define your point of difference [WORKSHEET]

Filed under: 10-Minute Marketing — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

10-Minute Marketing: define your point of differenceWhen I do branding consultations with clients, one of the most important—and enlightening—questions I ask is: What makes you different?

Also known as your point of difference (POD), it’s the product, service or value that you or your organization offers that sets you apart from your competition.

Knowing the answer to this makes your branding—and in turn, your marketing—much easier and more effective because you always have a reference point.

This week’s 10-Minute Marketing task:

Download and fill out my handy PDF worksheet “What is your point of difference?” 

Business Branding Tune-Up: What is your point of difference? [worksheet]

10-Minute Marketing is a weekly series featuring short, easy-to-accomplish marketing tasks. Follow along with past posts here.

March 21, 2014

10-Minute Marketing: write your positioning statement

Filed under: 10-Minute Marketing — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 1:59 pm

10-Minute Marketing: write your positioning statementYour positioning statement, also known as your USP (unique selling point) tells people the “what” and “who” of your business.

It’s a crucial part of your branding and marketing. I refer to mine before doing any type of marketing outreach, i.e. drafting website copy, writing a blog post or planning a marketing campaign. It should be basic and straightforward, without any industry jargon.

Your positioning statement can be broken down into the following:

  1. Your unique service or product
  2. Who you provide it for

10-Minute Marketing task:

Write your positioning statement

Example:

  • Wharton Business School: The only business school that trains managers who are global, cross-functional, good leaders, and leveraged by technology. (via dummies.com)
  • typebaby: typebaby is a line of baby & kids apparel for urban parents that lets kids share their personality type through typography.

10-Minute Marketing is a weekly series featuring short, easy-to-accomplish marketing tasks. Follow along with past posts here.

February 5, 2014

Branding: what others say is more important than what you say.

Filed under: Branding — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 4:41 pm

Quote_Ries_outehr-say-brand

September 16, 2013

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