Last week, Amy and I were joined on our weekly Toolkit Talks by Claire Taylor Hansen, Creative Director of Big Duck, one of the top communications and branding firms working exclusively in the nonprofit sector.
Claire shared her insights and ideas about branding and communications for capital campaigns. Our discussion highlighted many important aspects of campaign branding and communications that are often not well understood.
Our conversation with Claire helped us think more fully about branding and how important it is for your campaign.
What is an Organization’s Brand?
Your organization’s brand is the voice of your organization, expressed through words and visual communication. Your brand is communicated through:
- style and tone
- the words you use
Your brand expresses the character of your organization and what it values. It should be timeless and consistent, creating a sense of clarity about the essence of your organizational culture.
Should a Capital Campaign have a Distinct Brand?
Capital campaigns also have brands. Campaign brands are often designed to differentiate the campaign from the organization itself. They tend to be distinct in color and type, and even in tone.
Organizations usually begin capital campaigns at an exciting and forward-looking time. And the campaign brand should be designed to capture that energy and spirit. The campaign brand distinguishes the campaign from the organization itself, signaling that with the campaign, the organization is moving forward toward exciting opportunities.
Your campaign brand is used on campaign materials throughout the campaign and then, as the campaign draws to a close, the campaign brand is retired and gives way to the primary organization’s brand.
This shift indicates that the campaign is a special initiative designed to move the organization forward.
What is the Case for Support and How Should it be Expressed?
The case for support is a clear and compelling set of ideas that lays out the story of your campaign — what you are raising money for and what difference it will make to the community you serve.
Your case for support literally makes the case for why a donor might support your campaign.
A case for support is not a campaign brochure. It is a set of ideas that can be expressed in many ways. It might be expressed in donor conversations and solicitations. It might be conveyed through a slide deck or splash page on your website. It might be captured in a social media campaign.
What do you think binds all of those expressions of the case together?
The brand, of course!
Every expression of the case should capture the spirit and energy and key words that make up your campaign’s brand.
And having a distinct brand for your campaign, differentiating it from the organizational brand itself, enables you to breathe life into your campaign during that special period where you are asking people for extraordinary gifts.
How Might you Develop Your Campaign Brand?
Brands don’t have to be complicated. In fact, often the simpler the design, the more effective it is.
But you should invest the time and energy to create a consistent identify and then use it throughout your campaign.
Some organizations have enough internal talent to do that well. But if you don’t, you should engage a firm or designer to work with you on creating your campaign brand.
In fact, for many organizations, even those who have inside talent, bringing in an outside expert can be transformational. And while you might have trouble finding the money to invest in your organizational brand, you can invest in your campaign through a separate “campaign” budget.
Take Your Capital Campaign (and Branding) to the Next Level
If you’re looking for additional information about campaign branding and communications, we encourage you to look at this great post on the Big Duck site:
In this post, Lila Tublin highlights six important resources that will help you make sure that your campaign communications are a cornerstone of your campaign.
Consider Volunteers to Help with Your Branding
While Big Duck primarily serves mid and larger sized nonprofits, there are many ways smaller-sized organizations can create a campaign brand too. This is a wonderful place to use volunteers for your campaign. You can also find affordable options at www.fiverr.com and similar sites.
Whatever direction you choose, do what you can to make sure your campaign stands out. The look, feel, and concept of your campaign should be distinct from your regular brand and communicate the excitement of what’s ahead.