What is a brand?

 

A brand is how you are known. 

 

We’re all familiar with brands like Apple, Nike, Google, and Facebook. When we see the swoosh or the apple, we know instantly what company it represents. A brand not only helps us recognize companies, it evokes perceptions, emotions, and thoughts about the companies behind the logos. 

 

Your brand is the set of perceptions people have about your organization. Branding is the set of actions you take to cultivate that brand. When you brainstorm a new ad campaign, that’s branding. When you design a new logo or choose fresh colors, that’s branding. Your branding should come from your mission and vision statements as a way to communicate who you are and what you’re about to the community.

 

Heading  into a new year is the perfect time to evaluate your brand and determine if it’s working for your center. In this guide, we will help you think through the branding process and determine if your brand helps you reach pregnant women facing unplanned pregnancies in your community. We want your center to  succeed at serving abortion-minded women who need your help!

 

Why does branding matter?

We know you’re busy and you likely wear many different hats. Marketing and branding can seem like one more thing on your plate. But branding matters for the longevity of your pregnancy center and your success hinges on successful branding. 

 

Your brand incorporates all of the assets – colors, logo, fonts, etc. – that make up your visual brand. But, it’s more than those things, too. It’s how you’re perceived. It either conjures up positive or negative ideas in people’s minds about who you are. It makes an impression that lasts a long time and is hard to reverse. 

 

This is why being intentional about your brand is so important!

 

  1. It helps get people in the door

Remember, branding is the set of actions you take to shape people’s perceptions of you, so it is vitally important to the success of your mission. 

  • If the people who need your services don’t know you exist, then you likely have a branding issue. 
  • It helps you stand out in the crowd. If women are drawn to you, they will walk through your doors before they find your local abortion clinic. 
  • If you aren’t running regular marketing campaigns to drive awareness of your center, it’s likely women aren’t going to find you in the critical moments when they need the truth, hope, and resources you have to offer!

 

  1. It builds brand recognition

Your marketing and branding efforts will not only help promote your organization’s services to your community, but will help people recognize your pregnancy center as an authority on the issue of unplanned pregnancy and choices. Through client’s positive experiences and reviews online, people will know you as kind and compassionate towards women facing unplanned pregnancies.

 

  1. It creates a connection with your clients, helping them spread the word about you

     

As your clients connect with your brand, they’ll become part of your branding efforts, helping spread the word through their positive experiences with your center. The more people experience your center and see that it matches your branding, the more likely they’ll be to promote and share your center with others.

 

The next step is to evaluate your own brand and branding efforts to determine if improvements can be made and things you can do today to begin that evaluation process.

 

How can I improve my brand today?

 

It can be helpful to pull together a task force to help you evaluate your brand and branding. This should be made up of people on your staff as well as people who fit the key demographics of your clients. Include millennials and Gen Z in this process if you can because they’ll share perceptions from their generation which will be enlightening and helpful.

 

After your taskforce is assembled, go over your mission and vision statements to see if they are still relevant. Many nonprofits decide on those statements in the beginning stages of ministry and never revisit them. Even if you don’t make changes, it’s always good to review and make sure people understand your mission and vision.

 

From there, begin to look at the design elements you use in your branding efforts. These include things like your logo, fonts, colors, and any other images you use in your marketing and branding.

 

Fonts

In general, you shouldn’t use more than two fonts in your digital or printed materials. One should be some kind of script or serif font that matches your brand’s aesthetic, and one should be sans serif, and they should complement each other. “Serif” fonts are ones that have little flourishes at the end of some strokes, and sans serif fonts do not have those flourishes.

 

Here are some fonts to stay away from, especially if you’re hoping to successfully market and brand yourself to millennials and Gen Z:

  • Comic Sans
  • Papyrus
  • Brush Script
  • Curlz
  • Vivaldi
  • Bradley Hand

 

All of these fonts are older and when used, they carry the perception of being out of touch.

 

Colors

Think about the colors you currently use and the various emotions they communicate. Do they match your vision and mission statements? Do they all go together well?

 

Some of the same font rules apply to colors. Less is more, especially so you don’t distract from the message you want to communicate. Try to stick to a few main colors, with variations on those in your design. 

 

As tempting as it is to use all the colors, once you pick the ones that best represent your brand, stick with those in all of your marketing materials. This doesn’t mean you can’t stray from them a little for things like holidays, but in general, your marketing materials should all utilize the same color palette. Research the meaning of colors (i.e. blue = calm, green= life, yellow=happiness, etc.) to pick the ones that best represent your brand!

 

Logo

When was the last time your logo was updated? If you’ve had the same one for 20+ years, it’s probably time to revisit it and see if it’s still serving your brand well. You don’t have to make massive changes or incorporate a complete overhaul, but even Apple makes adjustments to their logo to keep up with the times and stay fresh and relevant to an emerging audience.

 

Because your audience is generational, it’s good to review your logo to make sure it’s still a design people can resonate with every few years or so. Again, this doesn’t need to be a complete redesign, but rather little tweaks here and there to keep it fresh. 

 

There are times when a logo should be re-examined completely and you should plan to invest in a new one. This is likely the case if your logo still incorporates images like hearts, butterflies, roses, etc. These are overly feminine and could alienate male clients or feel unprofessional. They are dated which means they can be ineffective at reaching your target audience. 

 

To reach as many women as possible means you must look critically at your marketing and branding assets and choose the ones that speak to your audience the most, not the ones you prefer or you think your donors will like the most. 

 

Social Media Channels

While these are the main elements to your brand and branding efforts, other aspects matter, too. If you’re only present on Facebook but your target demographic is on Snapchat, that will signal that you’re out-of-touch with the generation you’re trying to serve. Clients will not see the flyers you put in churches, ads you run in newspapers, or ads on Christian radio stations. These are good places to reach your donors, or those who may influence your clients, but you will have a greater impact reaching clients where they live – on their phones. 

 

Office Decor

If the decor in your waiting area and exam rooms hasn’t been updated in 20 years, that can also signal that your center is dated, lacks medical professionalism, and perhaps doesn’t understand the current generation. Donated furniture and decor is such a generous gesture, but make room in your budget to invest in clean, current, new, durable furniture and get rid of the donated items if they are dated, stained, or don’t match your brand. Be mindful of the art hanging in your center as well, and make sure it’s not too feminine so men who come will feel comfortable, too. And remember that many of your clients are abortion-determined, so pictures of babies will not serve them but make them feel like they’re in the wrong place.

 

Donor Materials

One last thing to think about is your branding materials that are specifically for donors and spreading your name in the community. You want these to match the professionalism of your branding for clients which will interest investors and donors who have the means to help support your ministry. Make sure you have banners, letterhead, marketing materials, and signage that reflects your brand and incorporates all of your brand elements. These should be professionally designed, which means outsourcing if you don’t have someone on your team who can produce high-quality materials. Again, this is worth the initial investment because it will either draw people in or keep them from being interested.

 

As you think about branding and how you want to be known to your clients and in the community, be willing to conduct an honest assessment and incorporate changes. As you enter a new year, these will only make you a stronger presence and known name in the community, which is what you’ll need to reach the women you want to serve. 

 

As always, if you need help with your branding efforts, please reach out. Our team would love to help give you a fresh, updated, relevant look!

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