Why Every Nonprofit Needs a Brand Guide

Have you ever found yourself looking over your website or social media accounts and noticed inconsistencies?

  • Maybe that blue in one graphic isn’t quite right.
  • Maybe the font used on another graphic is different than the font on your website.

Or, perhaps you haven’t noticed any issues at all. If that’s the case, I suggest you take another look. You may be surprised what you find after a closer inspection.

If you do find some inconsistencies, don’t worry. It happens to everyone. Which is why a Brand Guide is an essential tool for your nonprofit.

What is a Brand Guide?

A Brand Guide is a document that outlines the visual elements of your brand.

P.S. It may also outline emotional elements as well (such as tone, vision, etc.) but for now we’re concerned with the visuals.

By documenting these visual elements you create a reference every time a new design needs to be created. Your Brand Guide tells a designer the exact color codes of your brand’s colors. It also dictates the fonts that can be used, how the logo can be arranged, and any other visual styles.

Consistent visuals are nice, but why is it so important to have one? Keep reading to find out…

A Brand Guide Strengthens the Brand

The strength of any brand lies in it’s ability to consistently deliver a promise over and over again.

As a nonprofit, the promise of your brand is closely tied to the purpose and mission you’re serving. Volunteers and donors need to know that your non-profit is committed to the cause. This requires you to build and maintain trust.

Inconsistencies, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem, eat away at trust. Enough inconsistencies over a period of time will change people from advocates into dissenters.

Your Brand Guide helps you mitigate against inconsistencies by providing everyone a consistent rulebook to play out of. For example, as long as a designer uses the correct color codes in your brand guide, your colors will look the same every time.

Building Your Own Brand Guide

Luckily you don’t need much to make your own Brand Guide. Simply open your word processor of choice and note down the following:

Logo Usage

This section covers how designers can use your logo in designs. It should answer the following questions:

  • When can the logo be used?
  • What colors can the logo be?
  • How small can the logo be?

Colors

This section covers your colors and when they should be used. In general you want 2 – 3 main colors and up to 3 secondary colors. For each color answer the following questions:

  • What is the Hex code?
  • What is the CMYK code?
  • When should this color be used?

Fonts (or formally known as Typography)

  • This section covers your fonts and when they should be used. In general you don’t want more than 2 total fonts. For each font, answer the following questions:
  • What styles of this font can be used (bold, italic, etc)?
  • When should this font be used?

That’s it! Simply outlining those three main elements of your brand will provide you the foundation of your Brand Guide. You can get as detailed as you want, but as long as you have those three elements you’re well on your way to building a strong, consistent brand.

If you have any questions regarding Brand Guides make sure to reach out to us!