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!

September 1, 2017

10-Minute Marketing: Add a Services tab to your Facebook business page

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

10-Minute Marketing: Add Services to your Facebook page

Did you know that Facebook Business pages now have a Services tab? I recently discovered it myself and added it to my Facebook page, but I suspect many organizations are not using it.  It’s an easy way to let visitors know at-a-glance what services you offer (and if it applies, what the costs are).

Adding Services is easy: click on the “Services” tab on the left side on the page, click “Add Your Service,” input your description and optionally add a cost and duration. I suggest using branded images or icons for the most impact.

Need help? Here’s a great how-to from Social Media Examiner. 

This week’s 10-Minute Marketing task:

Add a Services tab to your Facebook page.

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

 

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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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.

July 21, 2016

July 22, 2015

6 tips for an engaging organization newsletter

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

6 tips for an engaging organization newsletter

One of my favorite ways to keep in touch is through my newsletter. Every time I send one, I inevitably hear back from a client or prospect that has been “reminded” of me.

Would you like to have this same effect with your organization’s newsletter? Read on for my tips for a more engaging newsletter.

  1. Write for your target audience: The first thing to consider when writing a newsletter is: what do your members or supporters want to hear about? What are their questions, pain points or interests?
  2. Keep it short: The days of long newsletters are gone. There’s more inbox clutter nowadays, so you have to keep your message short and to the point.
  3. Create a simple and flexible email template: I highly recommend using one of the online email newsletter services (I personally use and love MailChimp). This allows you to create a template that can be easily adapted for each issue.
  4. Develop a basic editorial calendar: Having a schedule for your newsletter not only helps you stay on-track, but your readers will begin to expect to hear from you (out of sight really does become out of mind!) It can be a simple as an Excel file with monthly send dates and newsletter topics. Hint: make things ever easier and plan topics a few months in advance. See an example editorial calendar.
  5. Keep a file of topic ideas: One of the biggest blogging complaints I hear is: I have nothing to write about. Once you’ve considered your target audience (see #1), the ideas should start to come easier. Now, create a file where you can store all these great ideas (I use the app Evernote).
  6. Send it consistently: Readers tend to engage more with a newsletter that is familiar to them rather than one that is infrequent. I send mine monthly, however depending on your organization (say, if you host weekly events) you may need a more frequent schedule.

So there you have it… you’re on your way to a more engaging newsletter.

Have you put any of these tips in practice? Let me know, I would love to know how it works out for you!

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December 14, 2010

‘Tis the season for giving

Filed under: Community Outreach,Local (Chicago) — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 8:29 am

"Hope" gift box from GothamChick on Etsy

With charitable giving taking a hit in the current economy, local and national organizations need all the help they can get. This is a great time of year to reflect on your good fortune and share what you can with others.

I have several friends and clients at local nonprofit organizations, so they are first on my list for giving. Over the years, I’ve seen how these organizations help the community so I willingly do my part to help out.

Ideas for holiday giving

  • Your local food pantry
  • An organization that supports a cause close to your heart or family
  • American Red Cross or other aid organization
  • Organizations that provide housing or care to the homeless
  • An organization that connects with your personal interests. Love music? Support your local music conservatory.

GuideStar.org is a good place to start your research: search by name, location or type of nonprofit organization.

Donating without writing a check

You don’t have to limit yourself to cash donations. Here in Chicago, there is an organization called Leave it for Love that takes unused gifts and “re-gifts” them to a local charity. During this time of year, you can also usually find organizations (or retail stores) that collect donations of coats, eyeglasses or shoes and donate them appropriately.

Do you have other ideas for giving during the holidays? Leave them in the comments!