by Jim LeFevre, Senior Director of Marketing, Public Interest Registry
Just like building a home, you can build your brand with the help of an architect, construction team, and designer—or you could take a do it yourself (DIY) approach! For non-profits and good-for-the-world businesses, paying to develop your brand may not fit into your financial plan, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t achievable.
A solid brand can offer myriad benefits to mission-based organizations. In fact, Stanford Social Innovation Review, www.ssir.org, asserts that, “Strong brands in all sectors help organizations acquire financial, human, and social resources, and build key partnerships. The trust that strong brands elicit also provides organizations with the authority and credibility to deploy those resources more efficiently and flexibly than can organizations with weaker brands.”
Luckily, with good information and tools, a mission-based organization can take a DIY approach to building a strong brand while conserving precious financial and human resources. So, how to begin? When branding on a budget, focus on the basic building blocks like logo, website, and media. And of course, use the following handy DIY Brand Building Guide:
A logo is like a sign you hang in your organization’s shop window—in fact, you can use it on signs, at events, and for anything else internally and public-facing that promotes the cause. The first step toward conceiving an impactful logo is to brainstorm. Grab your team or an artistic friend and brainstorm your ideas. If meeting virtually, share your screen or send sketches back and forth. It should be a fun process, and the Harvard Business Review (HBR) offers some ideas to get your imagination moving in the right direction.
Once you have something to run with, create your logo. Some graphic designers offer an affordable package price for logos, so check around and compare. If budget doesn’t allow, or you prefer to truly DIY, try www.freelogodesign.org. This user-friendly website offers a range of prices from no-cost (for a low-resolution logo) to $39.00 USD (for a high-resolution logo suitable for print as well as digital purposes). They also offer a library of logo ideas and a blog to learn more about marketing, branding, and website management, which brings us to our next topic.
As mentioned above, when you have a logo, you can use it everywhere—including your website. If your logo is a sign in a window, your website is the entire shop for your mission-based organization. Creating an effective website is essential to making a good first impression, raising awareness, and encouraging donations. And, it’s increasingly simple to DIY!
Of course, you’ll first need to register your domain name—PIR offers this helpful list of accredited registrars where you can register .ORG domain names—and then you can get to work on a website. Similar to logo design, if you have the budget, you can compare quotes from web designers to build your site. Many providers such as Wix, Squarespace, and WordPress offer high-quality, turn-key tools to create an attractive and functional DIY website at an affordable cost.
Choose a theme, along with colors that coordinate with your logo, relevant photos or images, and decide whether to include a “donate” button (the answer is yes, according to www.classy.org’s guide to DIY fundraising). “The presentation, clarity, and even the colors you use will influence the way people understand and engage with your content. More importantly, your website design may very well determine whether or not someone forms a positive first impression of your organization. It will also influence whether your visitors ultimately decide to make donations or become fundraisers,” write Ross Campbell and Sean Chisholm on www.classy.org.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to raise funds or awareness for your non-profit or good-for-the-world business. Instead of “paid media” where you spend money on advertising, consider an “earned media” approach by pitching reporters about the mission and purpose of your cause. Mobilizing others in your community to promote your brand on social media is another great way to generate free publicity and come out ahead financially. Some examples of earned digital media include mentions on digital news sites and posts or tweets about your work by users. “Owned” media can include your website, blog, and proprietary social media pages. This article from www.classy.org offers more information about these methods.
The best way to maximize earned and owned media is to create content that people want to mention via their own outlets and share on social media. According to www.classy.org, a blog is a strategic way to leverage content and amplify your brand. “Not only does your blog increase engagement and leverage storytelling to draw in donors, but it can also help improve your search engine optimization (SEO). One of the most important factors to good SEO is great blog content.” Of course, it’s also important to create an engaging social media presence. For budding DIY social media gurus, this piece by www.classy.org offers examples of posting best practices.
DIY home makeover TV shows are all the rage because there’s so much about your home—or in this case, your brand—that is actually in your hands and what is in your home, or on your website, says a lot about you or your .ORG! Using this guide, we’re confident you can roll up your sleeves and get the DIY job done as you embark on your mission. We can’t wait to see your “big reveal” as you launch your new brand!