Hi everyone! Becca here. I’m taking over Amy’s blog this week because I was so inspired by our “Building Your Brand” Speaker Series session yesterday that I wanted to share my thoughts with you.

You probably saw in Amy’s last blog post that Giving Tree Associates was looking forward to hosting a group of incredible panelists yesterday. Hopefully, some of you were able to join us in person! For those that are not in Chicago or who weren’t able to make it, I’m sorry that we missed you! But don’t worry, I’m here to make sure you still benefit from some of the key take-aways.

Yesterday’s panel discussion focused on differentiating your non-profit organization through branding. We were joined by Emile Cambry Jr. of Blue1647, Jonny Imerman of Imerman Angels, Diane Latiker of Kids Off The Block, Inc. (KOB), and Diana Shulla-Cose of Perspectives Charter Schools.

I was inspired by the passion of each panelist, all of whom are also the founders of the successful non-profit organizations they represent (as an aside, hearing founders tell the stories and journeys of their organizations is truly amazing. I may have even heard a few sniffles in the audience…).

Anyway, in addition to the wonderful story telling, I was impressed by the panelists’ branding insights. It was tough to narrow down, but here is one take-away from each panelist:

  • Emile Cambry’s marketing and branding efforts showcase successful stories, ideas and outcomes so that his audience will associate the programs and kids involved with the aspirations and vision of Blue1647.
  • If you know Jonny Imerman, you know that his brand is all about apparel. He emphasized that branding, just like t-shirts, is not one size fits all. Instead, it’s important to know your audience and what will be most interesting to them. He explained the importance of apparel and how for him, it helps start a conversation about his organization and spread awareness.
  • For Diane Latiker, branding success has come from highlighting the impact Kids Off the Block has on the lives of young people. She keeps the mission at the center of her message and encourages her audience to speak to the kids, parents, and community members that are directly involved – they are her brand ambassadors and can truly speak to the value of the organization.
  • Diana Shulla-Cose emphasized that identifying your organization’s differentiator is critical to branding, expanding, and growing the organization. Perspectives Charter Schools focused on a leading a disciplined life – the socioemotional component of learning – long before it was a common term or concept. They bring this defining value into every conversation and donor meeting. To Diana, it’s not enough to identify your differentiators, you have to be willing to live that difference daily.

Reflecting back on the panelists’ insights and discussion, these are the six tidbits that stand out to me most strongly:

  1. Audience matters
  2. Passion is key
  3. Stories resonate
  4. Find your differentiator
  5. Put impact and mission at the center
  6. Use brand ambassadors

I’m curious to hear more about branding from you! Are these tools and strategies important to your branding efforts? What’s missing from my list? I would love to learn from your branding success.

Just a quick logistical note – next week, many on our team will be out celebrating Rosh Hashanah. To all who celebrate, we wish you a happy and healthy new year. Amy will be back to share more helpful tips the following week, so look out for her next post on September 28th.