Developing your nonprofit’s brand voice
If you have kids (and even if you don’t) it’s likely that you’ve seen the Disney classic “The Little Mermaid.” In case you haven’t, it goes something like this: A love-struck, young mermaid makes a dangerous deal with a sea witch to have her mermaid tale replaced with human legs in exchange for her voice. She’s quick to realize how important it is to have a voice when she’s unable to communicate with the prince whom she needs to get to kiss her in order to break the spell.
Just like the mermaid was lost without her voice to communicate, a nonprofit cannot identify with or communicate to supporters without their voice; without establishing their personality. Every nonprofit needs a voice to speak their values, share their unique perspectives and be identifiable in the community. And these days, that means projecting your voice online.
How do you do that? Here are five tips to developing your brand voice online:
Define your target supporters
While it would be nice to have everyone be a potential donor or supporter, nonprofits must identify individuals who will be more inclined to identify with their cause. Determine what the characteristics of your organization’s target donor is to help define what your voice should be—what is their age, gender, geographic location, method of communication?
How will you relate?
Once you have narrowed down your target supporters and what defines them, nonprofits must determine how they plan to relate to this demographic. Establish why your donors are identifying with your cause, and tailor your voice and message to continue meeting those needs. Ask yourself what brings your organization all together and what do your supporters all have in common? Understanding how your donors identify with your cause and vision is a key component of creating your long-term voice.
Create a test group
After you have identified your target demographic and what direction you want to head with your nonprofit voice, create a test group of friends, relatives and coworkers who also represent your target. Ask them what excited them about your organization’s mission and goals, what is unique about your nonprofit, and what words or phrases they associate with. Use your test group’s honest feedback to help modify your organization’s voice.
It is often helpful to find other organizations or nonprofits that have similar voices to help inspire your own voice. Use old and new organizations throughout the industry as inspiration—you will find nonprofits that are witty, serious, informative and friendly. Consider describing your own nonprofit voice in three words to determine your personality traits.
Most importantly, once you have taken all the steps to create your nonprofit voice, be genuine and consistent. Your voice should stay true to your mission and the people who are involved in your organization. Your voice should be able to be catered to both your on- and offline messages. A genuine, consistent nonprofit voice will help maintain a personal level with your audience on all channels and create a consistent and identifiable brand image.
Creating your nonprofit voice is not an easy task, but it is important to do so before creating messages, social media campaigns or SMS messages. By following the steps above, nonprofits can create a voice to help their donors identify and relate.