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We recently participated in an Impact Growth panel for SOCAP’s flagship conference in San Francisco, where our Director of Strategy talked about branding and marketing for social impact organizations.

But we couldn’t keep all that knowledge contained within the walls of the conference, could we? In this post, we’ll start to answer one of the most frequently asked questions we get from clients:

Can you walk us through the branding process?

Whether you are revisiting an existing brand strategy or developing one for the first time for your nonprofit, foundation or social impact organization, diving deep into four key elements of branding are a must.

This is part one of a four-part series, where we’ll dive into each of these elements as you go through the process of developing your organization’s brand strategy.

Developing Your Audience Profiles

Knowing who you exist for and why is always the first step. The power of branding is that it can inspire audiences to take action. If you don’t know who you’re communicating with, how can you draft messaging or create a style that you know will resonate with them?

At Briteweb, we typically see that organizations have anywhere from an intermediate to advanced understanding of their target audience segments. But they usually don’t have that information documented anywhere—typically those nuances live in the heads of key staff members. What that means is that the information isn’t transferable or scaleable. This can be a real problem for organizations, especially those who are growing.

In a nutshell, the steps for developing audience profiles are as follows:

  • 1

    Unearth the knowledge that already exists within your organization. Get together with your colleagues from all levels to brainstorm who you understand to be your target audiences.

  • 2

    Augment that knowledge with demographic and psychographic data that you collect from a number of sources (ie. Google Analytics, CRM, Hotjar, Quantcast, Hubspot)

  • 3

    Conduct stakeholder interviews. Gather current information about your audiences with surveys, questionnaires, or facilitate focus groups. What’s most important is that you hear directly from members of each segment.

  • 4

    Augment again. This time use third-party data on trends in the market. Find relevant reports published by credible consulting firms like Mckinsey, Deloitte, Edleman etc.

  • 5

    Literally build profiles. Gather your augmented data and create a persona for each audience segment. Get personal and give them a name.

Focus on the Psychographics

In the social sector demographic data can be a bit scattered, especially as there can often be great variation in demographics within a specific segment.

By focusing on building psychographic profiles, we can understand what motivates each group to act, what communications material they resonate with, what FAQ’s they often have and what you could address earlier on in the sales and communication cycle.

Ultimately, we want to discover what inspires them, what’s important to them, where they find belonging in their communities and how you can draw the connection between your cause and their motivations.

How Many Audience Profiles You Should Have

By the end of this process, you should have your audience segments broken down into three groups, with one of those groups acting as your top priority. Of course, every organization is different, so you might find that your magic number is two or four.

Once you have your profiles developed, run them by your team again and augment if needed. Over time your audience segments may change, so consider updating your profiles once every few years or when a significant change occurs. Changes in leadership, programming or services, core mission, vision or a shift in communications priorities all warrant a revisit.

What’s Next?

In our next post, we’ll put these profiles to work by walking you through how to develop your brand positioning statement. If you’ve read our post, Why Your Organization Needs Brand Guidelines, you already know that consistency breeds familiarity, and familiarity breeds trust.

A brand positioning statement is the key to keeping your brand consistent with your marketing.

We’re always here to lend a hand. If you have any questions or would like a free consultation, give us a shout and we’ll be happy to help.