Why a brand is essential for your project or organisation – 3 brand basics you should know

There is a lot of faff and fuss flying around the internet about branding. The standard advice is to create a brand with a spiffy logo…you know the drill.

You would be forgiven for thinking to yourself, ‘that stuff doesn’t apply to museums/visitor centres/community arts co-operatives/(fill in your type here), it’s only for businesses and big corporates like Coca Cola’.

In some ways you’re right. Building a brand for your small project won’t change what you are. It won’t bring thousands of people through the door signing up for what you have to offer.

But what it WILL do, is tell the world about you and your core purpose and encourage them to reach out and connect with you, if they share your values.

Here are three basics of branding your project, which we think you should take seriously…and why.

Get your name right

Yes, it’s very basic, but think of it this way, the name of your project or organisation is your first opportunity to get the attention of your user/visitor/viewer. You don’t want to waste it with something benign like ‘Blahville Cultural Centre’. That will tell your potential audience (which has never heard of you before) absolutely squat about you and they will quickly move on to something more interesting.

Your name should evoke something in your listener. Think about what you want them to feel when they hear it. How can you arouse their curiosity about what you do? Like a snake-charmer, draw them through your front door with your name.

Keep the logo simple

Logos are tricky things. It can be extremely difficult to get consensus, and the final decision often ends up in the hands of one or two individuals. You may not like it. You may think it looks like an upside-down turnip with a moustache. But if we could distill our advice down to the basics, it would be

Keep it simple – people have to be able to recognise it when they see it from a distance

Go for one idea – let your logo say one thing about you, just one.

Be bold – this is no time to be shy! Use colour. Make a statement.

Figure out who you are and what you are like

Organisations and projects are just like the people who make them up. They can be sassy or reserved. They can be gentle, or boisterous. Is yours traditional, or progressive? Does it maintain a quiet presence, or leap to the front and sing?

Knowing who you are is the key to creating a great brand. If you don’t really know what your organisation is like, or you’re not sure, you will give out a fuzzy message and a confused brand.

If you put out a vague or inaccurate representation of who you are via your brand, you will attract people who are a poor fit. These people will never be satisfied with what you do. They are more likely to be negative, and can even damage your efforts with bad or unfair reviews.

But…by letting the true nature of your organisation or project shine through your brand, you will attract the right people. Fans will be pleased with what you offer them, and they will be keen to see what else you come up with.  If you get to this point then congratulations! Because your brand is an accurate reflection of your purpose, you have managed to attract people who share your values.

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