How to update your brand without confusing your donors

How to update your brand without confusing your donors

As your non-profit grows you’ll likely need to make changes to your brand. However, updating your brand carries a lot of risk.

So, to mitigate that risk it’s important to plan out how you’ll update your brand and how’ll communicate those changes to your donors.

Things to consider

Depending on what parts of your brand you’re updating you’ll want to consider the following. These are listed in order from least risky to most risky.

Typography / Fonts

Updating your fonts is the least risky change you can make to your brand. Most people don’t pay close attention to fonts, so unless the change is jarring it’s likely most donors won’t notice the change.

The main thing to think about when changing fonts is to make sure the new fonts work well together.

Colors

Colors carry a lot of emotion and meaning with them —which is why it’s important to pick the right colors

Because of this, it’s likely donors will notice if you change your brand’s color (unless the changes are very subtle). So, make sure your new colors are in alignment with the tone you want to present.

In addition you need to make sure the new colors work well together. Creating a cohesive color palette can be tricky. Because of this we recommend engaging a designer to help you finalize your new colors.

Messaging

How and what your brand says has a direct influence on who your brand is attracting. So, make sure any updates to your messaging answer the following questions:

  • Who is the message intended for?
  • What story are you telling?
  • What is the tone?

If you’re changing the target of the message and/or the story you’ll want to make sure it will resonate with your ideal donors.

Tone changes are more subtle. The biggest challenge with them is ensuring tone changes align with the overall tone of your brand.

Logo

Your logo is the most recognized visual aspect of your brand. Any updates to it (even small ones) will be noticed by donors. Because of this, logo changes often lead to donors questioning if your non-profit has changed.

In addition, a logo change will always lead to a loss in brand equity.

To mitigate against some of these potential issues your new logo should retain some aspect of your old logo (unless you are wanting to completely separate your new brand from your old brand). 

Name

Like a logo change, changing your name will immediately generate questions from your donors. 

So, unless you have to change your name for legal reasons, we don’t recommend changing your brand’s name. It’s extremely risky and the potential benefits are rarely worth the risk.

How to let donors know

If you’ve made any changes to your brand’s colors, logo, and/or name you need to let your donors know. The goal is to inform them of the changes and to ensure they know why the changes were made. In the end, donors want to be confident they are still supporting a non-profit that aligns with their values.

Below are suggestions on how to utilize different communication channels to inform your donors.

Website

Your website is one of the best places to let donors know about your updated brand.

First, your website is evergreen — once you’ve placed a message on the website about the changes you don’t have to update it again until it’s time to finally remove the message.

Second, it provides you a central place to provide information about your updated brand. We recommend creating a brand update landing page.

This page is designed to explain why you updated the brand, how the updates relate to your mission, and what it means moving forward. We also recommend adding a FAQ section so you can head off potential questions donors may have.

Once the page is built you can link to it from the home page. It’s best to draw attention to this page. After about 3 months you can remove the link.

Email

If you have a mailing list we suggest sending out a new email about the brand update.

Also, it’s good to have a section in your next few emails that talks about the update. A few sentences and a link to your brand update landing page is all you need. 

Social Media

A few posts on the next month or two (depending on how much the brand was updated). Link to the brand update landing page. Use this to build brand awareness and to reinforce your mission. 

Be ready for comments from followers. You may hear negative thoughts about the brand update. This is normal and most people will adjust to the new changes.

Press Release

If your non-profit utilizes press releases a brand update is a perfect reason to issue a new one. This accomplishes two things: it informs donors and promotes your non-profit.

When using a press release to discuss a brand update you’ll want to mention the following:

  • Why you’re updating your brand
  • How this update reinforces your mission
  • What can donors expect from your brand moving forward

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Justin Lynch
Justin Lynch

Justin is a Brand Strategist at Avlier, a brand consulting company.