I spend a lot of time talking about branding in the for-profit space, but a powerful and clearly defined brand is a critical asset for any organization. Last week, I had the opportunity to chat with Hugh Ballou and Russell Dennis of SynerVision Leadership Foundation about how nonprofits from churches to charities can use the TWIST to stand out, get the attention their good work deserves, and build a loyal community of followers, donors, and volunteers.

Watch the video here and read on for key takeaways your organization can start implementing right now.

Take off your brand blinders

Your brand is much more than your logo or name—it is your story, and great stories have a TWIST. A TWIST is a point of differentiation. It’s what’s unique about your organization, the hook that gets stakeholders interested in hearing more and wanting to become involved.

The first step in discovering your organization’s unique TWIST is to take off what I call “brand blinders.” If you spend all your time thinking about what other organizations in your own space are doing, you will end up doing the same thing. Removing your brand blinders allows you to break free of “me too” marketing by looking at brands unlike yours for inspiration.

Pick a few of your favorite brands. What experiences are they providing? How are they engaging customers? What differentiates them from the competition? And finally, how can you take those lessons and apply them to your own organization?

Don’t build your brand by committee

Committees are key to building a successful organization, but they can actually do more harm than good when it comes to building your brand.

When I work with nonprofits, we often get input from many sources—including leadership, staff, members, donors, and the community—but I always insist that we identify a much smaller group that will actually champion the brand direction.

I do this because making important branding decisions by committee—in other words, expecting consensus on the name, logo, or positioning—is branding by the lowest common denominator and the result is often vague, confusing, and unremarkable.

Remember, your brand is not for everyone

Speaking of trying to please everyone, it may sound counter-intuitive, but the narrower your focus, the closer you’ll connect with your ideal target. You can’t be everything to everyone—and trying is only going to dilute your brand and the caliber of followers it attracts.

Women age 25-54 is not a target. People looking for meaning in their life is not a target. Instead, you have to zero in on a single person who personifies your best “customer,” and start thinking about what they want that you can offer.

Ready to revolutionize your nonprofit brand? I am offering 15% off Brand Health Check strategy sessions with code SVLF.

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Julie is the Founder and CEO of BrandTwist, a brand consultancy that helps entrepreneurs and corporations build stronger, more profitable brands.


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