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Collection of logo concepts as part of a nonprofit branding effort for JOE NYC.
  • Tips for your Team

Choosing the right nonprofit branding effort: small, medium, or large?


Are you looking to get nonprofit branding help from a partner? Check out this article for tips on different types of branding efforts.

If you are thinking about branding for your nonprofit, there is a lot to consider. The field of branding and different approaches to branding is diverse and deep. It may start with wanting a new logo and quickly evolve into something far more involved. In this article, we share a bit about different branding efforts and present small, medium, and large examples. Our goal is to help you explore the right effort and partner fit for your organization.

Wow, this is a lot of branding

Branding is a term that describes a whole field of work. It's broad enough to support dedicated agencies that focus only on branding work. Check out this list of different aspects/products of branding efforts.

  1. Logo Design: Creating a logo that represents your organization.
  2. Visual Identity: Developing a consistent and recognizable look for your brand, including colors, fonts, imagery and more.
  3. Brand Guidelines: Rules for how your brand should look and feel, and how your brand tools should be used.
  4. Brand Strategy: Figuring out who you want to reach and what you want to say to them.
  5. Brand Messaging: Deciding on a message that your target audience will connect with.
  6. Brand Voice: Defining your brand's personality and how it should communicate.
  7. Brand Experience: Making sure customers have a positive experience with your brand.
  8. Brand Audit: A review of your brand to identify areas for improvement.
  9. Brand Architecture: Structuring your brand and its sub-brands, products, and services.
  10. Brand Refresh/Rebrand: Updating your brand's look, message, and position to better fit your current goals and audience.

Each element of the above represents a chapter in the book of branding. So when you say you need branding work, it's no surprise that you might get a broad set of responses.

Three levels of nonprofit branding

To have a branding conversation, we like to break things down into three sizes/types of efforts. Here are your "small", "medium", and "large" sized branding efforts. The following apply whether creating your first brand or refreshing/rebranding an existing one.

"Small" - Just a logo please

The simplest way to create a brand is to design a logo. A logo is a type treatment on its own or with a symbol/icon that represents the organization. This is the baseline of creating a brand with the deliverable being the logo itself.

"Medium" - A logo and complete visual foundation

This level is most often called, "Visual Identity". Designing a visual identity is a more comprehensive effort. It provides a foundational set of tools for you to use in your designed materials that help with brand recognition and consistency. It includes a logo and other design elements like colors, fonts, and imagery. The goal is to make the brand recognizable and appealing to your audience wherever shown.

Deliverables for a visual identity effort might include the following:

  • Logo
  • Mood board
  • Visual style guide that outlines how to use the logo, colors, fonts and image style

"Large" - Includes everything in the small and medium options plus the strategy, messaging and visual deliverables. This is the "works" effort.

Getting the complete branding treatment may have many names. A Brand Deep Dive is a common one. A deep dive goes into the organization's mission, values, and audience to create a detailed branding strategy. This strategy includes both visual and messaging elements. It helps communicate the organization's unique value to its audience.

Deliverables for this type of effort might include the following:

  • Brand research findings - competitive research, interview findings, and more
  • Logo
  • Mood board
  • Messaging guide
  • Brand Guidelines - includes visual style guide, architecture, and more.
A style guide created for MediaMKRS as part of their nonprofit branding effort. It showcases the logo in different formats and brand colors, imagery, fonts, and more.

A style guide as part of Minds On Design Lab’s branding work for Reel Work’s MediaMKRS program.

Which "size" of branding effort is right for you?

When deciding on a branding approach for your organization, consider your budget, timeline, and goals.

Budget and timing are the "easier" criteria to assess. A logo only approach is going to take much less time and money to do compared to a full brand deep dive

  1. Small - Logo Design: $1,500-$5,000 (weeks), depending on the complexity of the design and the experience of the designer.
  2. Medium - Visual Identity: $10,000-$20,000 (1-2 months), depending on the scope of the project and the experience of the branding agency or consultant.
  3. Large - Brand Deep Dive: $20,000-$50,000+ (4-6+ months) or more.

These are rough ballparks based on our experience. Cost can vary based on a host of factors -- the complexity of the brand design, experience of the branding agency, and more.

Beyond budget and timing, what is the problem new branding will solve?

  • Small - Logo Design: You are confident with your messaging and overall brand look, but your logo needs some modernization. It needs to work better in a square, circle, or similar orientation for your social media presence. This might be a situation where rethinking your logo may be all you need.
  • Medium - Visual Identity: You are a new organization needing your first look and feel. Or, you are growing and your look just doesn’t match the quality of your work. You are confident in your messaging. These might be scenarios that merit a new visual identity.
  • Large - Brand Deep Dive: You are not sure of the best way to connect with your audience or how well what you have to share will resonate with potential supporters. When you don’t have the confidence in your overall positioning, this is when a deep dive can be helpful.

Your needs and budget will guide you and any potential partners you seek to engage.

Minds On Design Lab's Approach

Our services include logo work, visual brand work with a bit of strategy, and brand rollout. We do not offer deeper brand study and messaging work, though we can refer and even collaborate with some great partners that do.

Logo Design/Refresh

We help create or revise a logo to address some pain points. Sometimes we create a logo for a program, campaign, or event. Organizations who need this are confident about their general brand strategy/messaging. They often feel the need to modernize their logo a bit or create a different one for something new.

Visual Brand Foundation

We take a little time to get to know our clients and their key stakeholders. We tailor the visual branding strategy to their specific mission and audience.

This starts with light research where we talk to our client's teams through interviews and/or surveys about mission, impact, and goals. The information gathered informs our logo, mood board, and style guide design work.

Brand Activation

Whether it is for branding we have created or one done by another agency, we roll-out the brand across all designed materials. We excel at helping the expression of a brand extend to all our client's digital and print assets with consistency and confidence.

The branding help you need

We hope this overview of common branding efforts and things to think about as you consider your needs is helpful. If you'd like to discuss our services or are in need of an agency to do a brand deep dive, please reach out. We would be happy to help explore your branding next steps.


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