In this article I’ll talk about what we mean by brand identity, how to define your charity’s brand identity, and how this can help you get more supporters, more followers and more donations.
What is a brand identity?
When we run our branding workshops, brand identity is the thing we aim to establish first. In basic terms, it is your brand’s personality. We like to think of a brand identity as being the promise you make to your audience - it’s a set of expectations your audience has of you that you need to fulfill in everything you do.
We break brand identity down into two key components:
Brand attributes are a set of descriptive words and/or phrases that sum up your brand personality across a range of key factors. These words act as a cribsheet to help agencies like us ensure creative work is always on-brand, and to help you internally to get all your communications on-brand too.
Brand positioning relates to how you position your brand in relation to your audience, and in relation to other players in your field. It’s a tool that allows you to define what key benefit you deliver to your audience and how that sets you apart from other brands around you. This can drive your marketing strategies.
We articulate brand positioning in a one-sentence statement that follows this structure:
For [your audience], [your brand] delivers / achieves [key benefit] by [how you’re different].
By always keeping in mind your brand positioning statement and your brand attributes, anyone who creates assets for your charity, or who speaks for your charity, can easily stay on-brand. Everything your organisation does and says should reflect your brand identity.
How do I create a brand identity?
Your brand identity should tell a coherent story that communicates your organisation’s personality, mission and values. It covers what you should look and sound like in order to connect with your target audience.
As an example, here’s what the brand identity of Rusty Monkey currently looks like.
We’ve found it’s usually easier to work on your brand attributes first, as this will help you decide what your brand positioning statement should be.
Here’s how we work out our brand attributes.
What archetypal role does your brand play in the market?
Who is your key audience?
How do you want to communicate?
What kind of visual identity do you want for your brand?
How do you want people to feel when they interact with your brand?
As you can see, it’s then fairly easy to lift the key pieces of information from your brand attributes to build your brand positioning statement.
It’s worth noting that your brand positioning statement and your brand attributes themselves are not intended to be public-facing documents - they are there to help you steer your organisation in the right direction.
So although it’s worth taking the time to make sure they’re right, you don’t need to worry about wording them perfectly or making sure they are universally understandable. As long as they make sense to you and any third-party content creators, they are doing their job.
It’s also worth noting that your brand identity, like every part of your brand, is a living, breathing thing that may well change over time. Don’t feel obliged to stick to something if it’s no longer representing who you are - instead, reevaluate and rebrand.
Why is brand identity important for charities?
Brand identity is important for all organisations, because it helps them connect better with their target audience. Essentially, building a brand identity is like creating a personality for people to identify with, and this relationship can lead to loyalty and even love.
Because of the nature of their work, charities rely on the love and support of their followers, whether that is measured in sponsors, followers or donations. So having a strong, coherent brand identity is vital for making a success of your charity.
What attributes work well for charities?
In a research study conducted by Savanta [this link will open as a download], they found that the following brand attributes generated the most love and loyalty:
It makes sense that people look for these qualities in the charities they support. However, Savanta claims that ‘they are important but don’t allow differentiation from other leading charities.’ In other words, these attributes are a great foundation, but it’s important to stand out from other charities in your field. If everyone has the same brand attributes, how do people make a decision to support one charity versus another?
Savanta writes, ‘There is room for charities overall to take a bolder stance in their positioning, and to drive love through stronger expression of their vision and expertise.’
We are strong advocates for disruption because we’re natural rebels, and it can be an extremely effective branding tool. Disruption is the process of intentionally taking your brand in a direction that differs, contradicts or challenges other brands in that market.
Disrupting the market is a great way to get noticed when a lot of organisations are competing for the same thing as it helps you to stand out.
Disruptive brands can be controversial, and not everyone will like them. But those that do will follow them loyally. Disruption can be a great way to sift out the audiences you don’t want and increase the loyalty of the audiences you do want.
Want to work with us?
We can help you to develop your brand identity in a collaborative workshop. We’ll advise you on the best balance between conforming and diverging and share our insights into how you can use your brand to improve audience connection and open up new funding channels. Get in touch!
Who wrote this?
She / her; red / blue. Mel is a writer, editor and designer. Equally happy hiking a muddy trail as playing tabletop roleplay games by candlelight. Will seize any opportunity for a party, as long as said party features copious food, prosecco and hits from the 1980s. Her true passion lies in words. A student of literature, she is fascinated by enduring myths, etymology and science fiction. Kurt Vonnegut is her hero. “We are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different.”