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Why brand guidelines are essential for your small charity, and how to make them work effectively

Blog post   •   Apr 25, 2018 16:08 BST

No matter the size of your charity, brand guidelines should be seen as an essential part of your communication arsenal.

There’s a strong likelihood that volunteers and staff alike across your organisation will be engaging with funders, donors and service users using your brand, and it’s not always feasible to get sight of every outgoing message or poster your team will create.

How does your team find resources if you do not have brand guidelines in place?

Maybe they will edit a Word document previously created – or perhaps search for your organisation’s logo on Google images. A simple, understandable set of brand guidelines makes it easier to create a consistent image for your organisation.

1.Keep it simple

A ‘brand pack’ should not be hundreds of pages. The easier it is for your volunteers and staff to understand, the more likely it is to be used correctly.

Provide details of the fonts and colours used in your brand, and where to get them from if they are not likely to be installed as standard. Provide links or include logo files in several versions, for use on both white and coloured backgrounds.

Feel free to include details of visual elements accessible to professional designers further towards the back of the guide.

2.Create editable resources

While you may not want all of your key materials to be produced by those without design expertise, providing easy to edit poster and slide templates in Word and PowerPoint formats offers a quick and easy starting point for promotions.

This helps your team not to feel overwhelmed – they could go off-piste if they don’t understand what to do.

3.Real-life do’s and don’ts

Providing visual examples of do’s and don’ts is a really easy way for non-technical users to interpret your guidelines.

4.Don’t forget the words

Provide a summary of what your charity stands for, who you work with, and how you’d like to speak. Your team may not always be as familiar with this as you – so a handy crib sheet helps avoid awkward conversations and reduces clunky wording.

5.Provide easy access to quality photography

Great photography can transform a weak piece of marketing into a good one. Make sure your brand pack provides details of where quality images can be found – either on a downloads page or internal server.

6.Sell your services

If you have a marketing member of staff, you should promote this in the brand pack, and let your team know who you are and what you can do for them.

If you have a bank of existing physical resources, like tablecloths, feather flags or gazebos, provide details of how the loan of these items can take place.

7.Take inspiration

Most larger charities will make their brand guidelines publicly available online. These are free to download, and a great starting point to help you develop your own documents.

By Christopher Smith, Vibrant Colour Print and Promotional Merchandise

Vibrant Colour provides cost-effective print, exhibition and promotional materials, with direct experience marketing for small charities – we understand your challenges and goals.

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