The term “branding” originates from the practice of cattle ranchers burning a distinctive symbol into the skin of their livestock to differentiate them from those of other ranchers. Today, the term has evolved to define an intangible quality.
In the nonprofit arena, brand strategist Marty Neumeier asserts that a brand is a "person's gut feeling about your organization or event. It's a gut feeling because people are emotional, intuitive beings."
In fundraising, branding is even more essential because giving is often prompted by an emotional connection to the cause. Special events are the perfect opportunity to engage existing and potential donors before, during and after the actual event.
A well-executed strategy begins with a compelling visual image and poignant message that is consistent throughout all event marketing materials, from the event website, ad journal and event presentation to the post-event thank you’s.
Each event’s message should create an emotional connection that creates continued positive engagement with the audience and leads to long-lasting, loyal relationships.
Ten tips for pulling heartstrings with your event brand:
1. Get rid of stuffy or outdated graphics like crests, seals, clip art or anything that’s not original and of high quality.
2. Develop a color scheme that can be used in all event materials, both digital and print.
3. Create an event logo that is used everywhere possible.
4. Don’t skimp on graphic design; a strong logo by a talented designer is well worth the investment.
5. Avoid stilted “mission” talk, statistics and industry jargon. Use everyday language and real quotes.
6. Engage the prospect with the story of your organization to inspire them to get involved.
7. Describe the event in terms that will entice attendance.
8. Make your message, mission and marketing user-friendly and easy to understand.
9. Carry this style into the event program and presentation.
10. In repeat years, continue with this strategy while updating with new quotes, success stories, statistics, etc.
For organizations running multiple events, cross-event branding presents an even stronger opportunity. The events can be very different and the target audiences may vary considerably. Even so, maintaining a consistency between events ties them together with a unified message and creates a unique brand identity.
Seven tips to extend your brand across multiple events:
1. Have all event logos created by the same designer to maintain a similar style.
2. Develop different, but complementary, color schemes for event materials.
3. Whether it’s a golf outing or a wine tasting event, don’t leave out the story of your work and its impact.
4. In viewing your website and event materials, it should be evident that each event is distinct, yet is part of the overall organization’s brand.
5. Language for sponsorship levels and participation opportunities should be consistent between events.
6. Materials should redirect donors to learn more about all of your events.
7. In repeat years, maintain this strategy and update messaging as needed.
The opportunity to benefit from a strongly branded, multi-year, multi-event strategy is boundless. Harness the power of an effective branding strategy to raise more from your fundraising events!
The preceding is a guest post by Karen Perry-Weinstat, founder of Event Journal, Inc., a full-service marketing company for nonprofit fundraising events founded in 2002. She developed the first digital e-journal system that has replaced most dated paper journals and program books. Event Journal offers nonprofits a combination of its unique digital e-journal, event websites, coordinating marketing materials and full-service support and delivery for fundraising events including dinner galas, golf outings, benefits and more.