We believe nonprofits require five fundamentals to be strong and sustainable in the 21st century. One of those fundamentals has gained a lot of attention recently: identity.   Identity is most commonly perpetuated by the notion of brand. Establishing and sustaining a strong organizational brand is no longer a luxury for nonprofits. But a great brand can do so much more.

A recent article in CausePlanet reinforces the idea that brand is now a “nonprofit imperative.”  An organization’s  “social purpose”  and “value proposition” can be communicated through a brand that focuses on outcomes.  As a result, your brand can be a tool for engaging with your community, building accountability and maintaining strategic focus. The Stanford Social Innovation Review’s article, “The Role of Brand in the Nonprofit Sector,” masterfully explains this multiplier effect.  A strong brand can drive “broad, long-term social goals, while strengthening internal identity, cohesion, and capacity.”  Employees and volunteers should live the brand collectively and consistently, while outward manifestations can help to catalyze impact.

While the private sector has been harnessing the power of brand for a while, businesses are capitalizing on the concept of a “mission-oriented brand.”   Nonprofits and for-profits are using strategic partnerships to boost their individual identities while promoting social change. Brand can be a vehicle to higher value creation and value capture for both organizations.

How hard is your brand identity working for you?