This season we’re bringing you the best of the best - many of whom we work with! In this episode, we’re speaking with Laura Beauparlant, Creative Director and Branding Expert at Lab Creative, who helped us define and design the brand for The Good Partnership. Tune in as we learn about how to deep dive into your organization’s brand (hint: it’s more than just logos, colours and fonts!)
baking your branding cake
When people want a rebrand, it’s easy to automatically think of a new logo, website and so on. But that’s just the marketing component of your brand. Your brand is so much more.
Laura challenges us to imagine our brand is a beautifully decorated cake. Your logo, website and all the visual things people see are the icing and sprinkles. This is what makes the cake look good and enticing.
When you cut into the cake, you see the layers and all the things that went into it to give it substance. Think about the ingredients that had to be put together in the right order and proportions to create this delicious, fluffy cake that not only looks good but tastes and smells amazing. When you think of your brand, it’s not just what people see, but also, what’s on the inside.
If you had a cake that was only icing and sprinkles - it wouldn’t be a very good one (unless you’re my 5 year old son, in which case it would be the best cake ever)! When thinking of your brand, you can’t just think about what people see.
Just like a cake, there is an order where you can’t just start with your icing and then add the other ingredients. You have to start with the basic ingredients and the right chemistry. Then you bake it and shape it before you finally get to decorate it.
what goes into your brand chemistry?
The process for building your brand is about getting the clarity and confidence around who you want to work with, right up to the essence of your brand. The first step is to look at your audience - what do they value? What are their challenges? How do you help them and what links all of those people?
Then, you look at others in your space. Think about what they’re doing right and what you can do better or different from them. Looking at your competition is not saying you want to copy them or steal ideas, but it’s looking at how different you are from each other despite being similar. Think about what their message is and what they promise. How do they work and what is their process?
Then, think about your organization and why you exist, who you want to help and what impact you want to make - what benefits do you offer to the people you serve and your donors? Laura challenges us to reframe how we talk about what we do by speaking from the perspective of our clients.
staying on brand with multiple audiences
It’s so important to have clarity on who your audiences are especially when you can’t be everything to everyone! In the charitable space, we’re always talking to donors and clients which means that we’re always thinking about two audiences.
Laura suggests looking at your overarching brand - what is the essence of it? Think about the personality of your brand and the benefits you provide to your audiences. While you may need to tweak your words here and there, your tone with one group should be the same as your tone with another group. As long as you stay true to who you are and who your brand is, you should be able to speak to both audience groups seamlessly.
When you’re more authentic in the way you write, your photography and the way you approach people, you connect better with them. In the not-for-profit sector, donors are being pulled in so many directions, you need to connect with them heart-to-heart in order for them to give up their hard-earned dollars for your cause. People want to engage with those they know, like and trust - not an anonymous face behind a screen.
your brand personality
Personality tells you what tone of the language you can use and how you’ll speak. This also indicates what look and feel your brand has - using brand personality and colour psychology determines colour palettes and font styles. It reveals whether your brand is more fun and quirky or resourceful and powerful. Think about how you would want somebody from the outside to be able to describe your brand as a person. This helps your employees understand your tone - how do we sign off our emails and do we use emojis or exclamation marks? You can understand your brand personality once you understand your brand essence.
The essence is the heart and soul of the brand, it’s what you stand for and want to be remembered by. Think of it as an elevator pitch - when someone asks what do you do, you want to start with your brand position. It has to be intriguing, unique and get people asking more questions. You wouldn’t want people to hear “charity” or “non-profit” and think “Oh no, they’re going to ask me for money.” Instead, describe your work by positioning it from your clients’ point of view.
At the very end of Laura’s process, everyone on your team (depending on the organization) gets a copy of your brand guidelines which outlines all of the key elements of the brand foundation. Anytime someone, whether a new employee or one that just needs a reminder, isn’t sure how to respond to an email and needs to refresh their memory, the guideline is available for them. This also includes what others can and cannot do with the logo and what fonts to use to ensure that your brand is consistent. It’s difficult to create an annual report and you have no structure to your brand. If you’re inconsistent with your colours, fonts and tone of your messaging, it affects how recognizable you are - which puts you at a disadvantage especially with tons of competing organizations fighting for donor dollars.
seeing the bigger picture
Another way to look at your brand is to view it as a puzzle. When you don’t sit down and reflect on your brand essence and what makes your organization different from the rest, you build your puzzle without knowing what the bigger picture looks like. It’s easy to settle for where you’re at with your business, but having a foundation lets you know what you’re working towards and guides you towards it. This way, the way in which you present and conduct yourself is aligned with how you connect to your audience.
Laura warns us that skipping the foundation can lead to your audience not connecting with your messaging or cause. This can also affect your organization internally - sometimes the people in the organization actually don’t feel connected or aligned with the organization of you may have someone on your team that isn’t a good fit. Developing this foundation for your brand can actually help them realize that this isn’t the right fit for them. On the other hand, someone else might see your brand and will want to work for your organization. Whether you get people who love it or people who don’t either way, your organization will have a clear picture of who you are, what you stand for and why you exist.
Without a brand foundation, you may attract the wrong employees, donors and clients. But a powerful brand can attract the right donors, clients and employees and more.
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Resources from this Episode
Read Laura’s book Brand Chemistry
Follow Lab Creative on Instagram
Connect with Laura on LinkedIn
The Small Nonprofit is produced by Eloisa Jane Mariano