Over the years, I have worked at a wide range of jobs. This evolution has included some more interesting jobs like being a postal worker and researcher at a primate facility to international healthcare program manager and now a visual communications manager. Throughout this seemingly non-cohesive career path, one aspect has remained the same. My employer’s visual brand has always set the tone for the job. Whether or not I was conscious of it at the age of 16, the logo of the children’s museum at which I was first employed made a huge impact on me. The logo had a dinosaur with an arching rainbow behind it and made the museum seem like a fun and exciting place to work. After a few rounds of interviews, I found my instinct was correct.
Regardless of what type of organization you are, your logo and your visual identity are almost always the first impression others have of you. It is a first impression you can control so why not make the most of it?
Many NPOs in China and around the world have limited resources. They don’t have funding. Staff members manage multiple departments or programs because there is no one else to carry the workload. Investing in the organization’s visual identity can seem like an inevitable large sunk cost. Why don’t people evaluate an organization based on the efficacy of their work instead of their outward appearance? The unfortunate reality is that potential clients, donors, beneficiaries look at your logo and visual brand and make snap judgments on your professionalism and ability to execute based on these first impressions.
If this is the case and an organization does not have the resources to hire a specialist, here is a list of questions to ask yourself and your staff as you begin to build your visual identity.
- What is your mission and vision for your organization?
- Ensure these items are very clear in you and your staff’s mind.
- With your mission and vision clearly in your mind, think about what you want your organization to be known for. What is your organization’s core personality?
- Are you a fun and personable organization that efficiently assists migrant children? Are you an incubator who professionally executes trainings to NPOs?
- Now you want to translate these components in your logo and visual brand through intentionally picking colors, shapes, and fonts.
- If you are unsure what colors, shapes, and font suit your organization, poll people around you and ask them what they think of when they see components of your brand identity.
With these components in place, you are ready to start building a brand brief. A brand brief is important as you start to create marketing materials. We will explore brand briefs in our next installment but until then, remember that your logo is your first impression so make it a good one!