Nonprofit organizations differ from commercial businesses in many ways. But there’s one thing they have in common – the need for a compelling brand that resonates with their target markets. Without it, nonprofits can get lost in the crowd just like any for-profit business that fails to address this critical need.
You may be wondering, “Why do nonprofits need a compelling brand? They already have a compelling cause and it should be easy to raise money.” But nonprofits operate in very competitive markets, and there are only so many philanthropic dollars to go around. Lacking a brand that speaks to people looking to make a difference in the world, nonprofits will struggle to raise the funds to support their mission. And you know what they say… “No Money, No Mission”!
Other nonprofits, such as credit unions, sell products or services that compete against commercial businesses as well as other nonprofits. They need loyal customers to generate the income needed to deliver on their mission, and that requires a compelling brand that encourages people to think, “I should do business with you.”
A recent rebranding project with one of our clients illustrates how a strong brand can benefit nonprofit organizations.
Aging-focused company gets a makeover
Based in Claremont, California, AgingNext is a nonprofit organization providing social services for older adults, their caregivers, and people who want to help enhance the lives of seniors. To achieve their goal of helping seniors age at home, they provide a wide array of services and case management in 16 cities in Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties. But it’s hard to enhance lives when people don’t know who you are or what you do.
For 40+ years, AgingNext was known as Community Senior Services, a generic, nondescript name that people found hard to connect with or thought it was a community center or government agency. The organization had grown so broad and diverse over the years that it lost the ability to define and communicate a clear and compelling value proposition to its target audience. And this is during a time when the fastest growing segment in the U.S. population will be seniors.
“We have always provided quality services for older adults,” says Floy Biggs, CEO for AgingNext. “Yet, people in the communities we serve were confused about our brand and our services – to the point where many associated us with recreation and other types of community centers. As a result, we struggled to attract new clients, service provider partners, and funding.”
Recognizing the need for change, Community Senior Services reached out to BottomLine Marketing. We conducted a deep dive into the organization, its services and the clients it serves. This included a series of interviews with management, clients, and providers, and an in-depth competitive analysis of organizations that provide similar services in their geographies. This work informed our recommendation for a complete rebrand, including a name change.
That’s Who We Are!
AgingNext management was fully on board with the rebrand. Their commitment to and enthusiasm for the project helped us craft an updated, modern brand that better resonated with AgingNext’s target audience at a very personal level. Since launching the new brand, interest in the organization and its services has skyrocketed.
When BottomLine Marketing presented the new brand blueprint to our management team, we instantly knew that’s who we are!” says Biggs. “It was exactly what we had envisioned and what we wanted to transpire. You could feel the excitement and energy in the room.”
Equally important, the rebrand has given the entire organization a new sense of clarity and focus about who they are and what they do.
“As an organization we were all over the place,” says Bea Kirkman, Director for AgingNext Village. “Going through the rebrand focused our thinking and helped us refine who we are and how we want the world to see us. That in itself was a very valuable process.”
New Brand Makes an Immediate Impact
“In a smart strategic move, AgingNext launched the rebrand at their annual fundraising gala. To generate buzz and attract donors, they kept the new name a closely guarded secret until the big day. Attendance at the gala and money raised surpassed all previous records.
“The fundraiser attracted more people than we’ve ever had,” says Philanthropy Manager Liz Weigand. “Our new name and brand color scheme delighted the audience, and we raised $66,000, a 33% increase over the previous year. There’s no question our new look played a key role in the event’s success. Afterwards, as awareness of the new brand grew, so did donations. We’ve already passed our initial fundraising goal for this fiscal year!”
Awareness of the brand has also produced significant increases in newsletter readership, website visits, and social media engagement. The new website, which is easier to navigate and read than the old one, and provides more information in a better designed format, has also drawn increased attention to AgingNext.
BottomLine also worked with us to ensure all our collateral remains consistent with the website and the new brand, and that’s something we didn’t have before,” says Biggs. “AgingNext is now identified with a certain look, and people want to be a part of it. The senior community really identifies with the new brand and its fresh look.”
The new consistency of style, language and messaging has made life easier for AgingNext staff.
“When preparing outgoing communications, we go straight to the brand book provided by BottomLine or our one-sheets, and they tell us what to say and how to say it,” says Kirkman. “For the first time, we’re all on the same page when it comes to communicating with our target market.”
“We’re currently working on a new legacy campaign, and we pulled some of the verbiage directly from the website. Unlike our old website, there is no disconnect between our new site and our collateral. Now, when staff are out in the community, they all speak the same language and we know it aligns with the brand.”
“When I’m out in the community I ask people if they have seen our website and most say yes,” adds Biggs. “The answer used to be no. We’re also getting phone calls directly from the website, which never used to happen. There’s a new sense of pride in our brand and our organization, both internally and with those in the community who support us. It’s an exciting time to be AgingNext!”
Hear what AgingNext said about their experience working with BottomLine Marketing.
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Are you a nonprofit struggling to stand out from the crowd?
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