Advice From the Front Lines on Branding Via Social Media
It's important in any economic conditions for nonprofits to effectively promote their missions, programs and fundraising campaigns — in other words, to properly establish and maintain their brands. And it's especially essential for them to get the branding right before jumping into new arenas like social networks.
In the session "Effective Branding in a Social Media World" presented at the 2009 Bridge Conference held just outside Washington, D.C., in late July, presenters Holly Ross, executive director of NTEN; Bev Stanton, Web manager for National Parks Conservation Association; Wendy Harman, social-media manager for the American Red Cross; and Danielle Brigida, social-media outreach coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation, talked about the ins and outs of branding and shared tips for ensuring organizations stand out in online social networks.
A nonprofit brand is not what your organization stands for in the collective mind of your community, Ross said, and it's not your organization's self-image, mission or logo. It's the intersection of what's unique about the way your organization does its work and the interests and needs of your community. Building a brand means creating a consistent, recognizable, clear and unified voice or personality that conveys your organization's focus and uniqueness.
Branding matters because nonprofits are vying for a share of an increasingly smaller well of contributions and need to make themselves stand out to potential donors, as well as volunteers, board members, clients, etc. What's more, stakeholders are looking for something to hold on to. If you don't participate in the conversation going on around your organization, someone else will … and potentially with the wrong information.
A strong brand is essential to developing and maintaining strong relationships with your members of any social network you use. It’s important to create a brand that stands out, generates action and builds loyalty, and to be consistent and avoid confusion.