Matchstic
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A change in identity is a complex, involved process, with unforeseen obstacles to navigate with care. Any organization will find a rebrand challenging, but nonprofits have added complexities when it comes to expressing their mission and vision in the right way and properly navigating change with emotionally-charged stakeholders.

Seeing through a number of brand launches firsthand, we’ve developed a guide to help you navigate this journey.

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1. Determine Your Budget by the Distance You Want to Travel.

The total cost of updating an identity depends largely on the degree of change from your current brand. There’s the fixed cost of the process itself, but there’s also the price tag that comes with applying the new brand across all touchpoints. For nonprofit organizations, spending a large sum on a rebrand can be very apparent to key stakeholders, so it’s important to set the budget responsibly, with clear outcomes and results in mind.

There are two extremes when it comes to making changes to your identity, and they come with different price points, pros and cons.

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Evolutionary

If your brand has significant brand equity and recognition, you might choose to evolve what exists. Launching evolutionary change is more cost-effective, as existing assets aren’t very different from the updated brand—you could start by refreshing your website and one to two other major touchpoints. All other updated touchpoints can be produced on demand or as needed, leaving previous inventory in stock.

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Revolutionary

Designed to leave old perceptions behind, a revolutionary rebrand might include a name change, new colors or even a completely new mark. Revolutionary updates can be costly—if the new and old identities look very different, you’ll need to put in tremendous effort and resources to replace outdated materials.

It’s wise to take stock of all brand assets or touch points that will need to change before moving too far into orbit. No one wants to re-fuel before cresting the outer cosmos.

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2. Think Inclusive when Staffing the Mission

Donors, volunteers, the board, your staff—all of your stakeholders—want to help shape the brand. Give them the chance to speak up! Often organizations only invite top management and leadership to make brand-level decisions, which comes with the risk of end results that don’t connect with your teams and outside audience. So who do you include and in what capacity?

We suggest staffing this initiative using the following framework. You want to be inclusive while keeping the team small enough to make decisions.

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Core Team

2-3 members of leadership team, including the CEO

Start by recruiting the people that already lead the creative team or marketing department and add in the final approver(s) for any major change. As the high-level decision makers for both the rebrand project and at your organization, they will be the first to review work, help reconcile disparate feedback, and champion a final decision.

Brand Team


10-15 managers and/or employees representing cross-functional areas of the organization (includes the core team)

This team’s function is to review the work, check for blind spots, share opinions and weigh in to narrow options. Rarely will a clear decision be made from a larger team like this, but their goal is to understand the process, share updates with their respective teams, and eventually champion the final decisions.

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Steering Committee


Additional 15-20 people, not comprised of the core team or brand team (e.g., board, volunteers)

Meant to advise and give additional feedback in the process, the role of this committee is not to make decisions but to review just a few milestones and give feedback on problem areas. For example, the might give input into the final logo direction but not review options. This team knows the brand well, and you may want them to provide input at multiple points along the way. Careful here. Be sure to communicate that their role in the process is to give input, not to make the decision. You want them to feel like they are part of the crew but not the flying the shuttle.

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3. Don’t Lose Sight of the Horizon When Communicating the Change

After all of the hard decisions have been made and you have a new brand strategy, voice, look and feel, what’s left is sharing the results. The launch is symbolic of your new vision, signaling a strategic shift, giving clarity and direction for further exploration. All eyes will be on you, so you want to make sure you’re telling a compelling story.

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Start from the inside out.

If your brand has significant brand equity and recognition, you might choose to evolve what exists. Launching evolutionary change is more cost-effective, as existing assets aren’t very different from the updated brand—you could start by refreshing your website and one to two other major touchpoints. All other updated touchpoints can be produced on demand or as needed, leaving previous inventory in stock.

Share the perilous journey.

It’s easy to focus all of the fanfare on the logo, but reflect on all of the hard work that has brought you here. While the logo is a tangible piece that’s easily understood, if that’s all that’s visible, the symbol can be easily misunderstood as well—as an expensive exercise in vanity.

Change with real significance.

Make sure to tell the larger story and explain the strategic changes people are seeing. Change for the sake of change can fall flat; your rebrand should have an undercurrent of real business significance. Don’t be afraid to talk about what all of the updates truly represent and frame it all as much bigger than just a logo.

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