While working on a branding project, I recently found myself reaching for the branding section of my bookshelf. I was looking for different perspectives and techniques around a specific element (brand personality – more to come on that soon). I found that my favourite book about nonprofit branding continues to stand head and shoulders above the rest. And that the others came up short. So I broadened my search and found two other books that, while not specific to nonprofits, were very also useful. This research and review led to a refresh of my branding book recommendations, which I’m sharing with you today. Branding books and blogs for nonprofit communicators: recommendations Click To Tweet
Branding books for nonprofit communicators: my top 3
Newly refreshed in 2018, here are my top three branding book recommendations for nonprofit organizations.
My #1 recommendation: Brandraising
Since first reading it, I’ve recommended Brandraising: How Nonprofits Raise Visibility and Money Through Smart Communications by Sarah Durham to many, many nonprofit communicators and will continue to do so. I’ve previously reviewed this book on the Nonprofit MarCommunity blog and here are some of the reasons I like it so much:
- It’s an excellent primer on branding, explaining many terms and concepts.
- It’s written specifically for the nonprofit context.
- It takes a holistic approach, helping readers to understand why branding is about more than logos.
Anyone involved in nonprofit branding should read and have a copy of this book. Note: I have a couple of other branding books specifically for nonprofits in my library, but have found them underwhelming. Brandraising is excellent, but I wanted to dig deeper into a particular process point. So I turned to Google and Quora (yes, Quora) to see if there were any other valuable books I was missing.
An old book, newly recommended by me: Designing Brand Identity
Google and Quora both pointed me to Designing Brand Identity: an essential guide for the whole branding team by Alina Wheeler. Now in its fifth edition, it’s a book I probably should have read and owned by now, but I always assumed it was heavier on the visual identity vs messaging side. I wasn’t entirely wrong, but Designing Brand Identify is still valuable because it’s solid reference material. What’s the difference between wordmarks, letterforms and pictorial marks? What are the elements of a brand strategy? Because this is basically a textbook, with Designing Brand Identity on hand, you won’t get tripped up by branding terms and definitions.
A surprise hit and new recommendation: Building Better Brands
I came across Building Better Brands: A comprehensive guide to brand strategy and identity development by Scott Lerman simply because it was on the shelf next to Designing Brand Identity. Though I wasn’t sure about it at first glance, I ended up quite impressed. It’s tactical and practical for those of us who need to involve internal stakeholders in the branding process in a meaningful way. Building Better Brands lays out concrete steps in the process of defining an organization’s brand. And it certainly helped me to think through some parameters and methods for the brand personality and positioning steps I’m working on. If you’re responsible for undertaking the branding or re-branding of your organization, this book is a step-by-step guide to doing the work.
Two more options – previously reviewed by nonprofit communicators I trust
- Brand Atlas: Branding Intelligence Made Visible By Alina Wheeler & Joel Katz (reviewed here by Katherine Moffat)
- The Brand Idea: Managing Nonprofit Brands with Integrity, Democracy, and Affinity by Nathalie Laidler-Kylander and Julia Shepard Stenzel (reviewed here by Suzanne Hallsworth)
Blogs for nonprofits with high quality, useful posts about branding
When I started looking for new ideas and perspectives on brand positioning, I first started with blog posts. But I moved on to books because, other than two that I already know and trust, other blogs offered little more than fluff. For blogs about nonprofit branding, my top two recommendations remain:
- Big Duck Insights: the author of Brandraising, Sarah Durham, is the CEO of this agency
- Stone Soup Creative blog: Julia Reich is a friend and trusted designer who has also contributed articles to the Nonprofit MarCommunity blog
What are your favourite branding books and blogs?
Do you have any branding book or blog recommendations of your own? What do you like about them and how have you found them useful? Please share in the blog post comments. Branding books and blogs for nonprofit communicators: recommendations Click To Tweet