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!

November 21, 2017

September 21, 2017

Featured Project: Event Branding & Marketing Design

For 10 years, All Stars Project of Chicago has brought growth opportunities to young people and adults living in the poorest communities. They needed event branding and marketing materials for their 10th Anniversary Benefit Luncheon—where they were unveiling plans to reinvest growth into the city by “Connecting Communities Downtown.”

I developed a design that expressed their mission of connecting communities across Chicago with business partners in the downtown community—as well as a special 10th anniversary logo.

I designed the Event Logo, Sales Pack, Invitation Package (Invitation and Mailing Envelope, Reply Card and Reply Envelope), Program and Insert, Power Point Presentation, and Onsite Signage.

See all of the designs here.

August 28, 2017

January 11, 2017

How to make the most out of working with a graphic designer

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion — Tags: , , , , , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

8 ways to get the most out of your graphic designer

Having a graphic designer partner can make a huge difference for an organization. Since your branding is probably the first thing a potential client or partner notices about you, investing in a well-designed logo and other marketing materials is one of the keys to success.

I recently shared my top 8 tips for working with a graphic designer on the Keyword Marketing Blog:

  1. Let us know what your goals are for the project (aka the “who, what and why”): This includes WHO you are trying to reach, WHAT you are trying to accomplish, and WHY you chose this type of marketing piece. The more we know about your project and your goals, the better the end result will be.
  2. Send us copy that is complete and well-organized: This will cut down on the number of potential edits (saving you time and money). Let us know if you need referrals for a copywriter or editor. Or ask us for help editing your content to fit your message.
  3. Provide graphics that are high-resolution and in usable file formats: Please, no graphics pulled from the web! Also let us know of any potential copyright issues—if you are unsure about using an image, we can help you investigate or find appropriate images.
  4. Inform us of deadlines and crucial project milestones: It helps us create a working production schedule—and we are happy to keep you on track if necessary!
  5. Let us know how and where your project will be used: If you need print materials, a website, online advertising, social media profiles or graphics, promotional or staff apparel, etc., we want to know about it.
  6. Provide samples: If you have existing marketing materials or branding, please provide samples at the start of the project so we can keep everything consistent.
  7. Bring up any concerns as they arise: Please let us know as soon as possible of any concerns you have during the design process. Frequent and honest communication is appreciated and will help both of us stay on the same page.

  8. Bonus points – if you have Brand Guidelines, please send them: This helps us keep our designs on-brand (And if you don’t have brand guidelines, we are happy to create them for you)

Above all, know that we are here to help. If you have any questions as we go along, please ask. Remember, our job is to make your business look good so the more we communicate, the better your business branding—and our relationship—will be.

Do you need a graphic design partner? I would love to chat with you!

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December 2, 2016

10-Minute Marketing: Make a list of this year’s accomplishments

Filed under: 10-Minute Marketing — Tags: , , , , , , — lidia @ 10:39 am

10-Minute Marketing: Make a list of this year’s accomplishments

Now that 2016 is drawing to a close (whaaaat?) it’s a great time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished this year. We spend so much time focused on achieving our goals, so it’s nice to spend a little time basking in the glow of our accomplishments. And once you start writing it down, you will realize you’ve accomplished quite a lot.

You can do this is a few different ways. For example, I keep a running list of monthly highlights so that at the end of the year, I can review a few key areas of my business: client growth, sales growth and press/PR highlights. These highlights also come in handy for my press mentions, website copy and content marketing. I also recently made a list of my accomplishments related to the yearly goal I made in my accountability group.

However you do this exercise, I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the end. Feel free to share here or on my Facebook page so we can all cheer you on!

This week’s 10-Minute Marketing task:

Make a list of your accomplishments this year.

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

 

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September 27, 2016

FEATURED DESIGN PROJECT: Child Welfare Services Brochure

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

VOA of Illinois Child Services Brochure
I’ve been working with Volunteers of America of Illinois to develop marketing materials that are more cohesive and consistent with their mission and brand. This is the third in a series of brochures I designed to highlight and promote their programs, this one is for their child welfare services foster parent program.

See the entire series of program brochures I designed for Volunteers of America of Illinois.

Volunteers of America of Illinois is a national nonprofit organization providing local human service programs for veterans, the homeless, children and the elderly. Learn more about them here.

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.

August 3, 2016

7 tips for getting email marketing right

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion — Tags: , , , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

7 ways to do email marketing the right way

I’m amazed by the amount of spam I receive, specifically email lists I’m added to without my permission by someone who I don’t know. (I use a different email address on my website contact form so I can easily identity when this happens. I know, sneaky…) Today, I got another one of these emails and said to myself: something must be done!

Email marketing is a great way to reach qualified prospects—the key here being the word qualified. Adding people indiscriminately to your mailing list in the hopes of making your list bigger can backfire: your messages will get marked as spam, eventually leading to your account getting closed down.

So, what’s the right way to approach email marketing? Focusing on quality, not quantity is my approach. My list is small but very targeted, so every email newsletter I send results in a reconnection, conversation or new project.

7 tips for getting email marketing right

  1. Keep a clean list: Every now and then, go through and delete contacts on your list who are no longer prospects or have outdated email addresses
  2. Be very careful when adding names: Only add people who have specifically given permission to be added to your list (see #4 & 5 below) or with whom you have worked in the past.
  3. Write for your audience: Make sure your email content is tailored to your list or they may unsubscribe
  4. Have an opt-in freebie on your website: Create a freebie (report, eBook, tipsheet, etc.) for prospects to download in exchange for their email address
  5. Send a cold email: If there is someone you really want to connect with, send them a friendly introductory email with a request to join your list (make sure they will find it useful, see #3)
  6. Give them an out: Make sure your messages always include an easy way to opt-out or unsubscribe
  7. Focus on quality, not quantity: Yes, a huge mailing list sounds tempting, but it only takes one successful connection to generate results, so focus on adding good, qualified prospects rather than increasing your numbers

Are you breaking any of the “rules?” By focusing on quality not quantity, you will quickly see the benefit of having a well-managed email list.

Need help developing your next email marketing campaign? I can help with design and strategy, as well as managing your campaign. Let’s chat!

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July 21, 2016

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