Inc Magazine's article, The New Rules of Branding Your Business Online rang a bell, and not just for businesses. It is an easy thing to subsitute "nonprofit" for "business" in this set of very useful tips.
I totally agree with the article's observation, "It's no longer enough to have a sleek website, social-media presence, and consistent brand aesthetic online. The new rules of branding your business on the Web have a lot less to do with presentation, and a lot more to do with interaction."
Here are the new rules that I thought most apply to nonprofits:
- Be persistent in finding and targeting your niche. Yes, even as a nonprofit you have a niche. One of the best ways of finding the right donors and supporters is to emphasize that niche and really stand out within it. See Starting a Nonprofit? Find Your Niche First for more about why this is so important. Also keep an eye on the trend of smaller and smaller niches, what Shel Israel calls nichenets.
- Excel at telling your customers "About Us." Who knew an About page could be so important? The Inc article suggests that you, "Avoid writing a soliloquy (too much text can be a turnoff) and focus on connecting with your site visitors." Do have your employees write their own bios in a friendly manner, including some personal information. Include their email addresses to show that you are really open to feedback.
- Fully integrate social media into your site. That means going beyond just the usual buttons too. Find out how Alex's Lemonade Stand entices readers to engage through social media.
- Monitor your brand's reputation and be ready to respond. There is an assortment of tools out there to set up your listening post, and many are free such as RSS and a reader.
- Showcase your best work. You need great content on your website, and it needs to be updated frequently. Check out some good examples of nonprofits "curating" terrific content that appeals to their supporters.
Branding isn't just about logos and pretty graphics. It's about being engaging, inviting, being the best in your sphere, and knowing what your supporters want and need.