Phase I branding

An impressive brand makes a great first impression and provides a quick insight into the service your supporters can expect. Often nonprofits (and smaller businesses!) with limited resources are the ones we see put off their branding, and yet they are the ones that need to make the biggest first impression.  

The good news is that every aspect of branding isn’t necessary right from the start. Rolling out your brand in phases is a great option! Below is our tried and tested recommendation for Phase I. We will cover Phase II in the next blog. 


After filing necessary paperwork to establish your organization, the next step is to define your brand identity with a logo. The best logos have three main components that help them stand out. The first is your organization’s name. The second is the brand mark, or graphical part of the logo. Something simple and relevant to your cause or industry is best. The third is a tagline, which is a short phrase that helps to add context to your brand name and preferably can sum up your mission statement. 

You should have a primary logo, a secondary logo, and a symbol or icon which can be used to brand images and marketing materials. Below is an example of the American Red Cross’s primary logo, and two graphic elements. The simple red cross is easily recognizable in all three, so even though the designs are different, they’re all still using the same components to clearly represent the organization.  

A notable logo makes it easy for your supporters to recognize you, and it can help distinguish you from other organizations. Your logo tells people who you are, what you stand for, how you’re helping, and why your cause is significant.  


A brand guideline helps you identify and solidify the look, theme, and even expectations for your organization. For example, if you were hosting a fundraising event and you wanted the theme, invitations, and marketing materials to align with your brand, this guide can serve as a reference so your event planner can capture your brand appropriately. If you hire a web designer to update your website, you can give them your brand guideline to follow so that they know the exact colors and fonts to use.  

Your brand guideline will contain all of your logos; primary, secondary, and symbol or icons. It should also include your color palette of primary and secondary colors. You should stick to 2 to 6 colors that you use to unite all of your marketing materials, logos, and media. Your color palette will help to create a cohesive and attractive brand.  

Your brand guideline will also contain your font styles from your logo and print and online marketing materials. Define your brand voice, tone, emotion, and keywords. This will ensure that all of your marketing materials are in line with the language and tone used on your website, social media posts, and in emails. 

Last, include photos, illustrations, or artwork that you feel captures the style and essence of your organization. The look, feel, and words should all be cohesive across the board, and your brand guideline has helpful visuals and exact information so there’s never any confusion.  

We talked extensively about building your organization’s brand identity and voice in a previous blog, so be sure to refer back to that if you’re still hashing these out. 


After your logo is designed and your brand aesthetic is established, you’ll want to have a website built. This is the first place your supporters will look for information about your cause. Before you establish social media profiles, you’ll want your website to serve as the primary place for people to find information.  

Have an easy-to-navigate layout with a simple design, an easy to find search bar, high-quality images, and clear call to actions and large “donate” or “join” buttons that stand out. These are essential for building your email lists, getting donations, and encouraging supporters to spread the word or help your cause in other ways. 

Referring back to our earlier example, the American Red Cross has a very simple logo of a white circle with a red cross in it, and their website matches and uses red throughout to create a cohesive and distinctive look.  


Now that people can find your organization online, print materials make an extra impact and can help you reach expanded demographics.  Depending on your industry and how you reach supporters, you may need business cards, a digital and/or print letterhead design, notecards, and envelopes. The best practice here is to use your primary logo and your tagline on these pieces. 


Your website will be the primary source of information for your supporters, however, print and digital materials you can send or give out are great for expanding your pool of support. A single well-designed postcard, flyer, or rack card can be extremely useful. Postcards, flyers, and rack cards all essentially serve the same promotional purpose, but their sizes and materials vary. They are a great format to attach as an email when communicating with potential supporters. Whichever promotional piece you choose, it should contain information about your cause, the work you do, how others can get involved, your website address, and the best way to contact your organization.  

Your logo, brand identity, website, and initial print and/or digital materials will help establish your organization as a legitimate and trustworthy operation. These first simple steps help your supporters to recognize you from other nonprofits or businesses like yours, and will hopefully identify you as the leading trusted resource in your field or industry. Now that you’ve got the basics taken care of, you’re ready for the next phase.  

Insquired creates meaningful branding solutions for nonprofit organizations and small businesses. Our creative process and strategic thinking results in high-impact design with purpose, tailored with each client’s target audience in mind. If you’re ready to upgrade your branding and visual identity, please contact us for more information. We’ll customize a solution that embodies your core values and supports your mission. 

brand phase II