Insights
2 min Read
April 6, 2016

Expressing the hierarchy of your brand

More and more nonprofits seem to be struggling with how to organize communications about their organization versus specific programs, which are often considered ‘sub-brands’. How should an organization visually represent the new program they’re rolling out? What should be done if a particular program or initiative is more visible or better-known  than the organization itself?

If you’re asking yourself any of these questions, fear not! We’ve got an answer—brand architecture. 

Brand architecture is a strategy for organizing and expressing the hierarchy of your brand. It embraces not just how your organization itself communicates, but also the relationship of programs to the ‘mother ship’ so your target audiences understand the relationships between them. It defines the roles of each part of your brand and gives them defined rules for use. Getting all of this organized and expressing it in a clear way helps audiences to not only understand what your organization does, but to see it holistically, rather than as a lot of moving parts.

We have a couple best practices when it comes to developing a strategy for brand architecture:

  1. Keep your communications goals in mind: Updating your brand architecture should be about more than just getting logos in order. It should work toward your larger communication goals, such as increasing program membership or raising money.
  2. Visualize it: Brand architecture can easily become complicated and tough to articulate. Try drawing out the hierarchy or relationships between initiatives, or even show how it might play out on some of your materials to get a sense of what it all means.
  3. Keep it simple: There are many brand architecture structures to consider, ranging from simple to complex, and we recommend keeping your strategy as simple as possible. If your brand structure creates confusion internally, you can bet external audiences won’t understand it.
  4. Use it consistently: As with your logo or messaging, brand architecture requires consistent use to truly resonate with your audiences. Make sure there are strict rules in place for using your new strategy and circulate them staff-wide. Because brand architecture influences sub-brands and programs, updates will affect more than just your communications staff, so make sure everyone’s on board.

Big Duck has been doing a lot of brand architecture work over the past year for mid-size and larger nonprofits. If you’re struggling to figure it all out give us a ring to explore if we might be a good fit to help.

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