Why Brand Messaging Matters

This post is brought to you by iostudio, Platinum Sponsor for the 2021 ABN Nonprofit Tech Expo.

Whether it’s geared toward major donors, corporate sponsors or individual advocates, fundraising often presents a multitude of challenges. At the heart of all fundraising efforts is an inspiring call to action: you hope they click to donate, place a dollar in the box, put a check in the mail, etc. The slight nuances you employ for different initiatives and audiences are what will set your nonprofit apart from others during crowded fundraising seasons and inspire action in support of your cause. 

At iostudio, we’re passionate about inspiring positive action. Our clients range from nonprofits to the federal government, but they all have one common goal: to change people’s lives. This requires us to embrace our clients’ culture, work within defined budgets and organizational structures, and create work that contains a balance of rational discussion and emotional engagement. 

We understand the vital role nonprofit and community-based organizations play in our society, and we’re interested in helping your organization matter more to your community by generating a response to your cause. Below you’ll find some ideas to incorporate as you prepare for your end-of-year giving campaigns (or anytime) based on success stories we’ve come across through our work with different clients. 

Incite passion through disruption

Passion is a consequence of emotion, and for nonprofit marketers, it rarely results from communicating the obvious. In order to incite passion among stakeholders, it may be necessary to challenge the status quo—to reframe the existing viewpoint of your community. 

Going bold is rarely easy. However, when done right, disruption can drive campaign awareness, especially among Zoomers who seem like they were born with phones in their hands. It can encourage word-of-mouth promotion and advocacy—an extreme advantage in the crowded field of end-of-year fundraising. 

For Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, iostudio created the Hunger Doesn’t Care campaign, which appeared in-market during the peak November-December fundraising season. 

Hunger Doesn’t Care painted hunger as a cold, indiscriminate bully who can affect anyone. Creative executions were designed to specifically show the impact on the food bank’s three main client types: children, families and senior citizens. Targeted print and outdoor advertising let people know how far even a small donation can go to defeat hunger.

The results were inspiring. Our community responded in a big way. Second Harvest reported a 70 percent increase when the concept initially launched, and a 19 percent increase the following year. Here’s the number that really matters: 331,580 more meals were provided in Middle Tennessee, pushing the overall impact of the campaign to an incredible milestone: more than 2 million meals provided by online donors.

Build a brand that resonates 

180 Health Partners provides immediate and realistic access to medical and behavioral healthcare to substance-dependent pregnant women. They deploy teams of experienced counselors, social workers, nurses and peer support specialists to help expecting mothers, prevent and/or drastically reduce neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), and stabilize social frameworks for the mothers’ long-term success. 

180 came to iostudio for a full communications audit and brand optimization exercise. Our research revealed that 180 Health Partners was offering a more comprehensive suite of care than the name alone could convey. We identified the opportunity to clarify its services and create a brand hierarchy that could scale to different donor demographics in the future. We recommended that 180 Health Partners remain the parent brand. The services the company provides for pregnant women facing addiction would become a new brand, with a name that better represents the offering and its impact: StrongWellTM.

Building the StrongWell brand involved in-depth research and ultra-precise messaging. Imagery, fonts and color palettes were carefully selected to represent StrongWell as a healthcare organization: welcoming, empowering and dependable. After forming the new brand, 180 Health Partners saw growth throughout the region and year-over-year enrollment increases.

Need help telling your nonprofit’s story?

iostudio is composed of a team of creative and results-oriented professionals. We help community organizations with multiple stakeholders—from Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee to the Chamber of Commerce Foundation and state government organizations—achieve the goals they set forth.

Contact iostudio to start the conversation.

386 Tiffani Mensch is ABN's Director of Education & Outreach. With 15 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, Tiffani is passionate about helping organizations achieve greater mission impact. If you would like to contribute to the ABN Blog, contact Tiffani at tmensch@betternonprofits.org.