Key Reasons Your Nonprofit Needs Branding

Chalk board with branding and marketing words

When you consider the word “branding,” what comes to mind? You may think of well-known companies like Apple or Target, that advertise on a large scale and whose characteristics are immediately recognizable to most of us, who come into frequent contact with them.

But the concept of branding is just as important for small businesses as it is for large companies. And, it’s an essential piece of increasing awareness for nonprofits as well.

The obvious reason for nonprofit organizations to spread awareness of their brand is to increase donations and build a reliable donor base. However, according to the Stanford Social Innovation Review, many nonprofits are stepping up their brand management in order “to explore the wider, strategic roles that brands can play: driving broad long-term social goals, while strengthening internal identity, cohesion, and capacity.”

Why Should You Build a Brand?

Like any other entity, your nonprofit has a unique set of goals, characteristics, and stories. When you bring these together to form a recognizable and repeatable persona, you have a brand. The first thing most people think of when they hear the word brand or branding, is an entity’s logo. While this is one branding element, it’s only the beginning. The style, graphics, and words your organization uses to communicate all convey your brand.

But what can branding do for your nonprofit?

Differentiate

Creating a brand around your nonprofit allows you to separate yourself from the crowd. There are a lot of nonprofits out there (over 4,000 in VT alone!) and invariably there are other organizations with the same general mission as yours. To make a connection with donors and bring precious fundraising dollars your way, you must tell a story that illustrates the unique mission of your nonprofit.

Illustrate Your Goals

black and yellow dart board with multicolored darts
Business image created by Waewkidja – Freepik.com

Helping donors to understand the specific goals your organization is working to achieve is a critical reason for developing a brand. Branding allows you to project your mission as an indelible piece of your organization. Potential donors can recognize these goals as the core of your brand, helping to reinforce your purpose.

Establish Authority

Nonprofits follow the same sales and marketing rules as businesses—it’s going to take multiple touches before a potential donor will make a gift. They will have to encounter your organization several times until it becomes familiar to them. Having a brand allows you to create one cohesive image that you can present to the world. The more a potential donor sees that image, the more recognizable you become, and the more likely they are to engage with you. Branding can also give you a professional image, increasing your sense of authority.

Strengthen Internal Identity

man and woman volunteers posing
Business image created by Peoplecreations – Freepik.com

The Stanford publication referred to branding as a way to reinforce internal identity. While your brand works to become familiar to potential donors, establishing a brand also helps to give your employees, volunteers, and board members something to rally around. They will feel like part of a team, helping to strengthen internal bonds.

Importance of Consistent Branding

A key piece of developing a brand is consistency. By constantly presenting your nonprofit using the same language, imagery, and message, you’re helping to build awareness and create a reliable image for your audience.

You should update all your marketing and fundraising materials to reflect your branding. Your social media content should echo what a visitor to your website or a recipient of your postcard will see. Consistency helps to establish the notion that you have clear, defined goals, and the experience and authority to achieve them.

Consistency can also apply to the frequency of your communications. You may have more activity leading up to an event, but work to stay in regular contact with your audience without being overwhelming. For instance, you could send one mailing per month, rather than several mailings during your campaign period and none the rest of the year.

The Power of Print

Like many nonprofits, you may be using direct mail for your fundraising campaigns. If so, you know that direct mail is an effective way to spread awareness and increase gifts. In part, this is due to the physical nature of a mail piece in our digitally saturated world. It reflects the power of print to connect with an audience—print boasts a 70% higher recall than digital.

In addition to direct mail, do you have other print collateral, such as business cards, brochures, banners/signs, or letterhead? These are all elements that contribute to the building of your brand. Where do you source these from?

By collaborating with a single source for all your printing, you can ensure that the donor experience is consistent. Each print piece can be consistent in terms of color, paper stock, and the overall look and feel.

Also, when you work closely with a source for something as important as fundraising, that source truly comes to know your organization, and can suggest avenues to explore that will accurately and effectively reflect your organization.

Want to talk about building your brand? Paw Print can assist with all your printing, mailing, design and promotional product needs. Contact us today!

 

How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything

cartoon of businessman riding rocket toward space
Business vector created by Dooder – Freepik.com

The place: a recent introductory meeting with the newly-hired Marketing Director of a local established and respected mid-sized company.

The topic: the state of the company’s marketing collateral.

This is a good-sized business selling big ticket services that regularly invoice in the $100,000 to $1M range. Yet, you would never perceive this when handed one of their business cards or company brochures.

The firm was seemingly still holding on to their start days, when print collateral was designed in-house using Microsoft Word, then printed on the company copier. That may have been appropriate and practical then. But given the size and capabilities of the company now, the state of their print collateral imparts a huge perception gap on the brand.  This company was attempting to continue to grow business and generate leads. However, the amateurism of their branded handouts did not match the professionalism of their work.

First Impression Is Everything

Have you ever heard the phrase “how you do anything is how you do everything”?

The way you handle one situation in your life tends to reflect how you handle every situation. If you tend to be a detail-oriented individual in your personal life, it’s highly likely you are detail-oriented in your professional life as well.

Contemplating the phrase “how you do anything is how you do everything” may incite introspection on many levels. For the context of this article on marketing tips, how you convey your brand can have deep implications for the success of your company or organization.

It’s All About Perception

Returning to the detail-orientated example. Say your car needs service. When you walk into the service center, does the cleanliness and orderliness of the facility and perceived expertise of the staff affect your level of confidence in the work to be done? Do these traits impart a perception on you as to how well you and your car will be taken care of?

Either consciously or subconsciously, your perception and confidence are affected. If the waiting area is clean and organized, and the service writer clearly explains the work to be done, what it will cost, and how long it will take, then you’re more likely to feel confident that the mechanical work will follow suit. Your level of confidence and willingness to refer this business will likely be lower if these details are missing.

This is the power and impact of the statement “how you do anything is how you do everything”! To your current and potential customers, the implications of this statement influence their perception of your entire brand.

This is why it’s so important for every business leader to take time on a regular basis to step back from the daily work routine and ask – how do my customers experience my business in relation to how I’d like them to experience it?

If there’s a disconnect between how you want your business to be perceived and how you actually conduct business, it’s time to take a critical look at potential gaps and make the necessary changes to bring intent and reality into alignment. Your business’ success depends on it.

Focus On Brand Excellence

cartoon businessmen building target to improve brand perception
Background vector created by Iconicbestiary – Freepik.com

You are expert at what you do. Your knowledge of your field is extensive and well-versed. But is this reflected in how you present and market your business? Do your actions backup your claims?

You may have just one opportunity to show you have the skills to get the job done, and done right. Whether it’s the manner in which you and your staff answer the phone, the quality and professionalism of your business card and company brochure, your website, asking important qualifying questions, or handling an unforeseen issue…all of these have the potential to generate new business or lose a potential customer forever.

And, just because “we’ve always done it this way”, doesn’t mean it’s the best way to continue if there’s any doubt as to how your brand is perceived. The systems you have in place may function. But to generate consistent, profitable business, you need to be more than functional. You must align all areas of your business to present the same cohesive image and delivery of service.

Your Print Collateral

businessman smiling and holding out business card
Logo psd created by Freepik

Let’s concentrate on print. Say you’re a construction company that regularly builds impressive structures that are made to last, that exceed your clients’ expectations and are always completed on time. You offer a great product, delivered with reliable and excellent service.

To get the word out, you likely have print collateral, like business cards and brochures that you hand out or send to potential clients. Now try this – pick them up, put yourself in your prospects’ shoes, and ask yourself: How do these look?” How do these feel?” Do they show quality and professionalism, or not so much?

Returning to the phrase how you do anything is how you do everything, if your business card is printed on thin, flimsy paper and not squarely trimmed, or your company brochure is not professionally designed, printed on office copy paper, and irregularly folded (yes… we still see this all too often), what does that say about your company? What would you think about a company if you received something like this from them?

Odds are, you’d toss that business card and brochure and look to another company to meet your needs. If a business card doesn’t hold up to the barest scrutiny, it leaves the impression that your product will also come up short.

Take an objective look at your marketing materials, strategies, and policies. Put yourself in the place of the customer. If you’re unimpressed with what you’re seeing, start taking steps to consistently present your business in the best light.

The Takeaway

Not everyone you come across is going to come to you for their needs. But by consistently presenting quality marketing collateral, you can ensure you’ll stay top of mind with customers. They’ll hold on to your business cards, and they’ll think of you before calling anyone else.

Want to revamp your marketing strategy, but aren’t sure where to begin? At Paw Print, we have the knowledge and tools to assist you with all your print, direct mail, and branded promotional product needs. Contact us to start improving your branding today!

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Paper 101: What Different Terms Actually Mean

Paper stock samples
In addition to various shades of white, stock is available in several colors and textures to meet the needs of any project.

When asked about the details of the paper stock you are choosing for a print project, do your eyes glaze over? Do terms like basis weight, points, and color cast sound like Greek to you? If so, here is a quick list of basic terms to help you better understand the process.

paper stock characteristics chart
Stocks are generally available in a variety of finishes and colors, and are identified by terms such as points, weight, brightness, and whether they are used for text or cover.

Basis Weight

This is the weight in pounds of a ream (500 sheets) of a paper at its basic size, or the size of the uncut sheet supplied to the printer. For example, the basic size of book paper is 25 x 38 inches, so a ream weighing 70 pounds would be 70-lb. paper. Sometimes metric is used: 70-lb. book paper is equivalent to 104 g/m2.

Points

Cover, card, and other thick stocks are often specified in points, which refers to the thickness of the paper. This is often abbreviated “pt.”— for example, “8-pt. cover.” One point is 1/1000th of an inch, so an 8-pt. stock is 0.008 inches thick.

Paper Grade

“Grade” refers to the end use of the paper. Bond is used for letters and documents, book paper is used for books, offset is used for offset printing, and so on. Digital presses generally have their own grades. Thicker grades include cover, bristol, tag, and index.

C1S and C2S

These terms refer to coatings. Paper is often coated during manufacture, which improves the reproduction of fine halftone screens and color fidelity. C1S means “coated one-side,” which is useful for labels, packaging, and other materials destined for single-sided printing. C2S means “coated two-sides” and is preferred for two-sided commercial printing.

Brightness

Brightness refers to the percentage of light reflected from the sheet’s surface. Basic white copy paper has a 92 brightness. Brightness by component wavelength (red, green, or blue) is also determined, as paper can reflect different amounts of certain colors, imparting a color cast to a printed piece if you’re not careful.

Paper can bring life, texture, and beauty to your projects. Want to learn more about how different choices complement different projects? Let’s talk!

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5 Ways Direct Mail Enhances Digital Fundraising

Emails with young woman holding a tablet

Are your fundraising campaigns multi-channel yet?

Digital developments are changing the way many non-profits fundraise. If you aren’t making use of digital channels to reach your donors, you risk falling behind.

While digital is vital to success, the most effective fundraising campaigns make use of direct mail and digital resources to create a cohesive donor experience, increase gifts, and be more impactful.

Here are 5 reasons to implement digital strategies into your next fundraising campaign:

1) Increase Your Reach

Direct mail is popular because it’s personal. There’s a lot to be said for being able to hold something in your hand, especially when it’s been personalized to you. We are inundated with so many emails throughout the day, and it’s easy for your message to get lost in the shuffle. At the same time, we’re receiving fewer pieces of physical mail. When we do receive mail, it gets our attention. According to MobileCause.com, donors are 3 times more likely to give online due to receiving a piece of direct mail versus an email.

man with megaphone to communicate
Background vector created by Dooder – Freepik.com

Direct mail is effective for making a connection with donors. And it’s even more effective when combined with other methods of communication. It’s likely that your donor base is a diverse group that wants to receive communications in different ways. Donors may be more likely to give online after receiving direct mail. But they also are more likely to act on direct mail if they are getting your message across multiple channels.

2) Create a Cohesive Experience

Because you have so many channels at your disposal, and you know that receiving messages across platforms increases giving, it’s important to be consistent with the look and feel across platforms. That means the same language, tone, imagery, color scheme, message, etc. should be reflected in each piece of fundraising material that you produce.

If you want to make online giving a part of your strategy, start by creating a landing page on your website consistent with your mailing. You can use the mailing to get the donor’s attention. Then, drive them to go to the landing page to learn more, engage with you, and ultimately make a donation. You can continue the theme throughout your email, social media, and other print communications.

One way to make the donor experience more compelling is to have a story at the core of your message. Maybe it’s a specific individual or group who has benefited from your organization. You can tell their story through video, imagery, and quotes, using these throughout your communications and campaign period. The repetition of these elements also helps to instill a sense of familiarity with your organization.

3) Make it Easy to Give

According to Nonprofit Source.com, 25% of donors complete their donations on a mobile device. And, 51% of high-wealth donors prefer giving online. Statistics consistently show that online giving is growing from year to year and that donors appreciate the ease of giving digitally.

However, simply having an online giving platform doesn’t mean you’re creating the best possible giving experience for your donors. Put yourself in their shoes, and go through the process of donating through your site or app.  If there are many steps to making the donation, or your platform does not work for mobile devices, you may want to make some changes. Look into using QR codes or text to give to make your donors’ mobile experience even more user-friendly.

4) Step Up Response Rates

Would you be surprised to learn that annually, 1.3 billion pieces of mail fail to reach the intended recipient? Or that 20% of addresses on nonprofit mailing lists are outdated? This means that 1/5 of the direct mail pieces you send out have the potential to be a dead end, with your message not reaching the recipient.

List hygiene digital data That’s why list hygiene is so important. Mailing to bad addresses not only decreases your reach. It also costs you money and gives you a lower campaign response rate. Plus, it’s simply ineffective. Having a smaller, more accurate list ensures that you’re investing your resources more wisely.

One effective investment to make to improve the quality of your mailing list is to add an Ancillary Services Endorsement on the mail piece at least once per year. By adding “Return Service Requested” to the mailing panel, the post office will return both undeliverable and change of address pieces for you to update your list from. You’ll pay the going postage rate for the returned pieces. But considering the money wasted on undeliverable pieces you are not aware of, this is money well-spent.

You can use digital communications to encourage donors to update contact and address info throughout the year, while keeping them apprised of the goings on at your organization.

5) Provide Value

Donors give because they feel a connection with your organization or mission. This means that your communications with them must be more than just an ask.

Send direct mail simply to stay in touch with donors and provide them with updates about your nonprofit. You can use digital resources to engage donors beyond the giving process. Create a blog for your organization that encourages donors to comment and share. A blog also helps to establish your authority when you write about topics that affect or are related to your nonprofit’s mission. You can direct donors to your blog through both direct mail and digital channels, helping them to understand the goals you’re working to achieve and creating more motivation to give. Blogging is also one of the best SEO strengthening tools in your digital marketing and fundraising toolbox.

Ready to make direct mail a part of your fundraising strategy? At Paw Print we specialize in direct mail fundraising appeal campaign production, taking your mailing from design to print to fulfillment. Contact us today to start the conversation.