Building Your Brand Points the Way for Nonprofit Organizations
Book - Building Your Brand
Building Your Brand - A Practical Guide for Nonprofit Organizations by Michele Levy promises to help even small nonprofits build and manage their brand—and build and maintain the reputation they want and deserve—by offering a user-friendly manual written for senior staff and board members.

Levy achieves this by answering eight essential brand questions, moving from basic to advanced:
  1. What is a brand?
  2. What is your brand opportunity?
  3. How can we build a high impact visual brand identity?
  4. What behaviors build and support our brand?
  5. How can we organize an integrated marketing and communications plan in support of our brand?
  6. How can we measure our success?
  7. How do we maintain and sustain our brand over time?
  8. When should we hire a consultant, and what can we do ourselves?
Levy, a Boston-based consultant, knows whereof she writes. She is a seasoned brand strategist, and a valuable resource for Massachusetts nonprofits, having worked with hundreds of organizations, including serving as chief marketing officer for the Walnut Hill School for the Arts.

Many nonprofits have historically underinvested in branding work, and if you are one of them, you may have some catching up to do. And if your strategy has recently changed, or if quick conversations with board and staff about your organization reveal markedly different perspectives, or if your materials look like they come from separate organizations, you may need to invest further.

Levy points the way. Her brand definition highlights four foundational elements (core messages; visual identity; brand behaviors; integrated plan) that are detailed in subsequent chapters. She tells us why branding matters (focus; efficiency; clarity; impact; and momentum) in case board members need a gentle reminder.

She maps out action steps, discussion guides, and templates. Concepts are made real through actual cases drawn from her consulting career.

The tone of the book is conversational ”“ as if the author is talking you through something new, with the attitude of a caring and knowledgeable coach. She’ll say, “One of the questions I often ask is...,” and I for one feel confident that she’s seen far worse that what I have in mind, and can take me far further than I can imagine.

Personally, I’m a fan of graphic templates, which embed intelligence into a simple yet powerful framework that I can use to be smarter than I really am. Levy has handy templates for an audience message matrix and a brand hierarchy, among others. She’s also got a sample Table of Content for a brand book, and a marketing and communications plan. These help me organize the materials I have, and know what gaps I need to fill.

Seasoned marketing professionals can use this book to start a conversation with staff leadership and board members. Newcomers to marketing can use this book to properly frame the conversation, and gain the confidence to move it forward. As an organizational development consultant who helps organizations create strategic plans that often recommend greater brand awareness, I recommend this book to my clients.

Building Your Brand - A Practical Guide for Nonprofit Organizations is available from Amazon.

Reviewed by Jay Vogt, president of Peoplesworth and author of Recharge Your Team: The Grounded Visioning Approach, and Board Roles to Board Goals: Creating an Annual Board Workplan.
August 2015