Branding is not the stuff of men in suits and thin ties. Rather, it’s key to the success of newsrooms that rely on links and citations from larger media outlets, giving the newsrooms increased exposure and impact.
Branding is “the process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers’ mind,” according to the Business Dictionary. “Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.”
In other words, branding is necessary for nonprofit news organizations wishing to cultivate an audience and support.
When considering branding, independent publishers should think about both the visual identity of their brand and consistent phrasing to describe their organization, its value and what it does.
Organizations that have the budget should consider hiring an outside creative agency to help put the required assets together. At the very least, I recommend using an outside logo firm for the visual identity. There are several very low-priced and reliable services on the web that can build a logo and identify for a couple of hundred dollars.
An organization putting together a visual identity package should create a standard set of graphics that are used consistently across their digital, print and multimedia assets and communications (e.g., the website, letterhead, marketing materials, YouTube videos). These elements should include logos in multiple sizes and formats, and a standard set of brand-associated colors.
While there are fewer outside resources that can help put together consistent wording to describe your organization, its mission and its services, creating and sticking to specific language that describes your organization in your content, communications and website are just as important.
When finalizing the visual and text branding elements, it’s important to test them with your target audiences to ensure that the values actually communicated by your materials match your perceptions. Once you have assembled your branding package it is also highly advisable to keep files and copies in a shared drive that can be easily accessed by all parties that need the information.
While an organization cannot control how it is described and referenced outside of its products and social networks, it can still ensure that its values and messaging are conveyed through consistent and proactive brand management.