Why brand consistency is essential for your non-profit’s brand

Think about the last time you purchased a product that failed to live up to your expectations. 

Why did it not meet your expectations? Were you expecting a different result than what you experienced?

There are many reasons why something may not live up to your expectations. However, the most likely reason is there was a disconnect between what you thought was going to happen versus what really happened. And, because of that you’re now less likely to trust that brand in the future.

That disconnect is an example of an inconsistency eroding brand trust.

Why brand consistency is important

Sometimes we’re personally to blame for a disconnect (we set unrealistic expectations), but oftentimes the disconnect comes from a brand promising us one thing yet delivering a different result. 

Those moments of disconnect, however small they may be, add up over time and erode the trust you have with a brand.

So, as a non-profit, it’s essential your mission and tone are pulled through into every aspect of your brand. Luckily, you can build brand consistency by following a set of proven rules. 

What to look for when building brand consistency

Your brand resonates with a person on two levels:

  • Consciously 
  • Subconsciously

The most common disconnects happen when there is an inconsistency between the conscious and subconscious aspects of a brand. This often occurs because the fundamental values of the brand have not been properly established. Let’s take a look at how to properly establish both sets of levels.

Conscious

This is the easier level of the two to understand. The conscious aspects of your brand relate to the elements a person can articulate how it makes them feel. 

Videos, the messaging on a marketing material, or even your website are all things a person can have an immediate opinion on. And, when they have an opinion, it’s often aimed at a specific thing that affected them. You know something is affecting the consciousness when you hear things like:

  • That video made me think of my best friend
  • Your flyer felt like it was written to me
  • Your website made it easy to find out about your next big event

Subconscious

Subconscious aspects of your brand are hard to describe, yet they have the most impact. Elements such as color, typography, and tone evoke emotional responses from people even when they’re not aware of it. This is why it’s critical for the subconscious aspects of your brand to align with the conscious aspects.

When a subconscious aspect is affecting a person, they often feel strongly about it, but have a hard time articulating why. You’ll often hear phrases such as:

  • I don’t like this, but I’m having a hard time figuring out why
  • Something feels off about this

This is an indicator that your brand is affecting someone on a subconscious level.

Brand Consistency Alignment

To align the conscious and subconscious aspects of your brand, you need to start with the tone of your brand. It’s important to remember that tone is different from your brand’s mission. 

Your mission is the reason your non-profit exists. The tone of your brand describes how you plan on carrying yourself when bringing that mission to life.

Tone

Choose two tone words that best describe your non-profit:

Bold Bright Calming Classic Clean Confident
Creative Dynamic Elegant Energetic Feminine Flourishing
Gentle Honest Joyful Luxurious Modern Neutral
Organic Passionate Playful Positive Powerful Prosperous
Pure Reliable Respectable Sleek Soft Trusting

Colors

To ensure the colors of your brand are communicating your values, find the colors most often associated with the tone words you chose. 

Note: Colors can mean different things in different cultures. So, treat this list as a guideline, not a definitive law of branding.

Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Purple
Passionate Energetic Joyful Prosperous Trusting Respectable
Powerful Playful Positive Organic Calming Luxurious
Dynamic Confident Bright Flourishing Reliable Creative
Pink Black Gray White
Gentle Classic Modern Pure
Soft Bold Neutral Clean
Feminine Elegant Sleek Honest

 

Typography

The style of your fonts (formally known as Typefaces) can play a big part in how someone perceives your brand. Similar to colors, there are tones associated with the different styles of typefaces.

Note: Once again, this is a guideline. In addition, some tone words don’t have a strong association with any particular style of typography. In those cases, any typography style will work well with that tone word.

Serif Sans Serif Slab Serif Script
Classic Clean Bold Calming
Honest Creative Confident Elegant
Luxurious Neutral Modern Feminine
Prosperous Positive Powerful Flourishing
Reliable Pure Respectable Gentle
Trusting Sleek   Organic
      Playful
      Soft

By aligning your tone, colors, and typography, you’ll create a brand that provides consistency on a conscious and subconscious level. While there are still many elements that go into a powerful brand, this will provide you the necessary foundation for building the next great non-profit brand!

Need pro bono help with your non-profit's marketing? Reach out to set up an Introductory Call.

Justin Lynch
Justin Lynch

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