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Creating your NGO brand

Someone once said that branding is what people say about you when you are not in the room. Interesting way to put it, right? What are the lasting feelings that people around you feel when you’re no longer in their presence? 


In order to create a cohesive and authentic personal brand, you need to have a clear focus for how you would like people to perceive you. Although figuring out who you are as a ‘brand’ might seem a tad inauthentic, you could think of it in the same way you might adjust your clothes in order to suit different situations. When you are with friends, you are casual and relaxed and your clothes and language reflect that. Other times, when you want to be seen as more professional, you will dress in something more formal and speak in a more eloquent, authoritative tone. 


Personal branding is not about trying to carve a new identity for yourself, it is an exercise in highlighting your true strengths, not creating ones that you do not process. If you are hoping to connect to an audience, you have got to get to the bottom of your value proposition. That is, what are you offering people and what problem are you hoping to solve for them? People will be drawn to you for your true passions, so work on amplifying these. Somewhere in between your knowledge, personal experience and passion will be your true unrivalled niche. 


While following the beat of your own drum is important, you must keep your audience in mind—with any luck, if you have carved your niche correctly, your audience will be the kind who is interested in what makes you, you. Start by constructing a profile of your typical audience member, who they are, what they like and dislike, as well as what other brands do, they associate with. If it helps, put a face to them and give them a name to round out your vision of them as much as possible. 


Branding goes so much deeper than the ‘look’ and in order to maintain that all-important consistency, you need to get clear on what kind of words make them distinctly yours. Be certain to maintain a specific tone that accurately reflects you. Sophisticated brands are not going to send out emails with ‘Hey, what’s up?’ as a greeting, and likewise, you can not establish a fun, casual, friendly tone if you apply language that is overly formal. If you are not sure about what tone suits your brand, then write some sample tweets, emails or messages. Give yourself some scenarios, for example: would it better suit your brand to say, we apologise for the inconvenience or sorry about the mix-up, we are on the case? Have a look at brands you admire and see what might also suit your brand check out their syntax and tone and swap and change elements until you get a tone that is just right for your brand, and that accurately reflects you. 


When it comes to being memorable, you can channel your uniqueness into the visuals of your brand, too. The visual representation of your personal brand, from your portfolio, website or LinkedIn page, can incorporate consistent elements of colour and typography (think fonts) that have the power to change perceptions about your brand, generating certain emotions and feelings and can help drive people is perception of you. If your personal brand centres on problem-solving for example, a sunny yellow used in places through your website might be more appropriate than a serious, stark black.


Remember, social media is not purely a recreational tool anymore; organisations use social media to network, advertise, show off their skills, and shape their brand. This is where streamlined digital assets will be particularly important: creating a brand does not mean you can just create a logo and colour palette and stop there. In reality, there are many other elements that can enhance your brand. Take Facebook for example. There is a profile picture, cover photo, image posts, content design and app button images, for starters. Beyond that, you have Twitter headers, Twitter image posts, Instagram posts, Google+ headers, YouTube Channel Art, and so much more, depending on what sites you choose to put your brand on. 


Oftentimes, the dimensions, sizing, cropping of each digital deliverable is different. So, to make sure your designs are perfectly sized and optimised for each social media, use specialised templates in order to avoid having to recreate assets from scratch for every platform. 


Visit Canva for any design templates you might need. 


Beyond social media, consider what other digital elements you might need. Do you need content for your website? Do you need a signature for your email? Try to think about every channel that you will be using professionally and pad it out with cohesive designs. 


To streamline the process, make a checklist of every element you need to create for your digital mediums and create them together. This will keep your designs consistent, prevent any inconsistencies (e.g. if you used a slightly different colour) and make it way easier and quicker for you to launch. 


Another great physical deliverable to have in your artillery is a portfolio. So many portfolios these days are online or digital, and while this is great for convenience in some cases, if you plan on meeting clients, consumers or employers in person and have a good body of work to show off, handing them a physical portfolio can be a nice way to stick in their minds. 


Assess your brand, note down its needs, and work from there. Do not think you need to spend a fortune on graphic design (or anything at all, for that matter!); there are thousands of free templates to choose from to support your design needs. 


To learn more, go to Introduction to brand building using Social media.