PUBLISHED IN BELLE MAGAZINE IN OCTOBER 2011

By Merry Mac Miller, DNA Creative Communications 

With more than 1.5 million nonprofits in the world, the surest way to stand out among the masses is through the strength of your brand. Effective branding has unmatchable value. Organizations with a strong brand stand out as credible, authentic and worth being part of. Think Susan G. Komen, Livestrong or the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Sound familiar? Each of these nonprofits is widely recognized because they live and breathe their mission and stick to their brand.

Revitalize Your Brand (without emptying your pockets!)

Complete brand overhaul can be expensive and time consuming: here some practical, cost-effective tips for strengthening your organization’s brand –right now.

1. Check Your Work.

Performing a communications audit can be vital to the long-term stability of your organization’s brand. This type of audit gives you an in-depth analysis of how your brand and communications materials are working with one another to propel your forward (or hold you back). DNA recommends having this type of audit done professionally – the benefit for your organization is immeasurable!

2. Make It Shine.

Your organization has a compelling mission – is it shared that way? Often, communication materials can be filled with industry jargon or inundated with dull, repetitive copy. All of your materials, from your website to your brochures, should capture the interest of your readers and engage your audience to take action! Your materials should make your brand sparkle and inspire whoever may read them next. Tug at the heartstrings and share your story like no one else can. Give it feeling and meaning, and use testimonials to make it shine event brighter.

3. Plug Into Social Media.

Four out of five people interact with organizations on social media outlets. There’s no better time than now for your organization to develop its own presence online! Be sure you having a social media plan in place before you begin and know how you will measure your success. Use social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to reach out to your target audiences, advance your cause and spread your message. It’s free, easy to use and far-reaching.

4. Be Consistent.

There is no single path to success in branding. In fact, successful branding is made up of a variety of methods in a well-developed communications plan customized to meet the specific needs of your organization. Without a plan or measurable goals, success will not be knocking at your door. But relax – it’s never too late to start! We’ll prove it to you – here’s an example of how we assisted a nonprofit in our community in their branding efforts.

Live Here Give Here – the DNA Way 

DNA’s annual Live Here Give Here (LHGH) program is one way we use our branding and public relations expertise to help make a difference in the Upstate community we live and believe in. Through an application process, we donate our in-house services every year to a local nonprofit to assist and strengthen their communication campaigns. We also provide mentorship by helping identify cost-effective strategies that will make them stronger and more proficient.

This year, we have been thrilled to partner with the Cancer Society of Greenville Country (CSGC) as they work to provide financial, physical, educational and emotional assistance to local cancer patients and their families, as well as cancer awareness and prevention programs to the public. We teamed up CSGC to create new mailing pieces, a social media plan, quarterly newsletters and re-designed annual “Hope Ball” event materials.

Hats Off to An Amazing, Brand-Centered Year

 In the beginning, we visited CSGC, spoke with staff, took a tour and evaluated all of the current communications materials and outlets. Based on our results, we focused our project-based campaign on solidifying their brand of being a local agency helping local people.

Each project was discussed, crafted and evaluated in depth, as well as carried out through high efficient (and effective!) means. For instance, while DNA created the CSGC quarterly newsletter, CSGC did all printing in-house in order to cut costs. In addition, DNA created an e-newsletter format for CSGC to potentially expand its outreach electronically and help out the environment! Our team also implemented a social media plan for CSGC – their “Holiday Greenery” benefit is now up on their new Facebook page and receiving great feedback. Through every project, the goal of consistently branding CSGC was implemented – all the way to the DNA-created “Save the Date” cards and program for their annual Hope Ball.

CSGC has also been pro-active and forward-thinking in its communications strategy. The organization’s staff are regular attendees at DNA’s “Shine the Light on Your Nonprofit” Seminar series and loyal participants in community events. We are glad to have donated our agency’s efforts and resources to the Cancer Society of Greenville County’s cause, and are equally proud of the work they have accomplished in driving their brand and message forward – impacting lives in our community every step of the way.