Using your brand to shape your nonprofit’s video marketing: Q&A with David Phu

Oct 6, 2023

Do you use your nonprofit organization’s brand to shape your video marketing? How can you leverage your brand narrative to strengthen your video content?

I recently explored similar questions about using a brand to shape communications with email fundraising expert Vanessa Chase Lockshin in a Q&A post. Excited by the valuable insights we generated about brand messaging and email fundraising, I reached out to another person on my wish list of collaborators: video marketing expert David Phu.

Expert advice on using your nonprofit’s brand to shape your video marketing

David Phu, video, audio and content marketing pro at Nonprofit Video Comms

David is a video, audio and content marketing pro at Nonprofit Video Comms. He’s a fellow consultant working with nonprofit organizations, and I’ve come to know him in the last couple of years as a very generous and helpful person! A few online conversations I’ve had with David about brand platforms inspired me to follow up and explore the topic further. Today, I’m happy to share David’s answers to my questions about using a brand to shape video marketing:

How does a well-defined brand, including a messaging platform, help you as a video marketer working with nonprofit organizations?

When a nonprofit has a well-defined brand, it helps me start video planning on the right foot. It gives me a clear starting point for what a script should say, to whom, and which visuals will align with the organization and its viewers. If the nonprofit has no key messages, then we waste time figuring those out. If the nonprofit has no positioning statement, then we might publish a position that staff members disagree with after the video has been published. 

I should note that collaborating on key messages and positioning can be super fun if that is what you and the video maker agree to do together. But too often, a video maker will be hired with no established brand in place, and the nonprofit is unaware this is a potential problem. These surprises result in delays, more costs, and possibly branding work that was better suited for a comms specialist. 

In your experience, what elements of a brand help to inform video planning and production for nonprofit organizations? How?

These brand elements help inform a video: 

  • Tone and word choice 
  • The nonprofit’s values
  • Key messages
  • Messaging guide
  • Positioning statement 
  • Key audience 

Having all or a few of the above elements helps the video maker in a few ways: 

  • The script writer can put themselves in the nonprofit’s shoes and write in their voice instead of starting from scratch or guessing. 
  • The distribution strategist can create a publishing plan that makes the video reach the right viewer
  • The director can choose locations, people, and graphics that represent the nonprofit and match their existing brand and values 

Time and money are always limited. Established brand elements help video makers get to work quickly and with confidence. They love delivering videos that meet the client’s messaging needs. But if there are no brand elements, then it becomes a guessing game. Guessing leads to tiresome feedback sessions, unnecessary video drafts, increased editing costs, and a final video that speaks to the wrong points. 

The more a nonprofit knows their brand, the easier it is to make a video. Established branding is so useful that even a shaky smartphone video will reach the right audience. But if there is no established branding, even a high-end fancy video won’t reach the right audience.

What types of videos can nonprofit organizations produce to convey their brand narratives? How and where can they use them?

Every touchpoint where a video may be used is a chance to support a brand narrative. On one end of the spectrum of videos, there are social media videos. On the other end of the spectrum, there are functional videos. Here are examples from each end of the spectrum:

Social media videos: 

  • A weekly post from a food bank manager about the number of clients served that week. 
  • A monthly post from the youth program with highlights about volunteering at their community gardens
  • A timely post responding to a recent policy change that affects services 

These videos are “social” in that they show up in many different feeds, at different times, serving multiple stakeholders’ diverse communication needs. They build a digital ecosystem that existing members, donors, and potential new stakeholders experience when they hover near the organizations’ online places. People will then experience the organization’s impact and thought leadership. They get to see and feel the brand. This is the narrative they are shown. In other words, these videos socialize with the community. 

Functional videos: 

  • A three-minute introduction video on the front page or the “about us” page that helps the curious visitor see, hear, and experience the programs, the mission, and the impact. 
  • A short donor page video that explains where the money goes, how the payment is secure, and what acknowledgment a donor can expect
  • A webinar from a mental health nonprofit about tips to empower carers of the elderly 

These videos perform a repetitive, long-term function. They equip viewers with deeper information that helps them buy, sign up, donate, improve work, give funds, and more. The visuals we choose can bring a brand element to life. The speakers at the organization can bring the brand voice to life. A video that guides a donor through the donation process shows expertise and support is augmented with a voice and face. In other words, these videos are like customer service and leaders for the community.  

What can a nonprofit communicator do to ensure brand standards and guidelines support rather than restrict creative video development?

Standards and guidelines (and the manager delegating creatives) should be clear about the difference between projects that allow creative freedom and projects that don’t. A funding proposal video is usually pretty rigid, but a video news blog post is usually pretty open to creativity. Manage the video creator’s expectations. 

Secondly, the person who makes the brand standards should provide a set of approved tips and examples that a video creator can gain inspiration from. For example, provide a set of other nonprofit videos a videographer can reference or a list of topics a script writer can expand on. 

Are there any other ways that a defined narrative and messaging platform benefit you as a video producer — as well as your nonprofit clients?

When I am creating, I need to focus. I can’t waste time. When I do the labour of writing copy, posts, one-sheets, and podcast scripts, and do the labour of speaking at webinars or in my own videos, I need to stay on task. I think the same applies for the nonprofit and their comms team. 

A messaging platform (key messages, content pillars, etc.) is a guide and a set of templates that help me know what to write and say. And when I’m feeling doubt or fatigue about my work, it helps me to know that these templates are my established go-to messages that I can trust. It’s easy to get distracted and start writing off-topic and wasting precious hours. These guides and templates help me stay on track. 

Do you need help using your brand to shape your nonprofit’s video marketing?

Learn more about David and how he can help you shape, create and distribute your nonprofit’s video marketing. Visit:

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