Branding is a very important piece of the event fundraising puzzle.  After all, the last thing you want is for your fundraiser walk to be “just another event!”  You want it to exist far beyond a simple, run of the mill event to become an experience that will stick with your participants for a long time to come.

The best way to do this is by creating a unique brand for your organization and the event itself.  According to  brand strategist Marty Neumeier, a brand is a “person’s gut feeling about your organization or event.  It’s a person’s gut feeling because brands are defined by individuals.  It’s a gut feeling because people are emotional, intuitive beings.”

In other words, it’s not what you say it is, it’s what your event participants say it is.  It is the element that puts the special into special events fundraising and makes your donors and participants feel as though they are part of something different. 

Creating a brand takes both time and dedication, but it is far from impossible to do.  In fact, if you can follow these five easy steps, then you will be well on your way to taking your nonprofit fundraising to the next level.


Branding Your Event


Don’t Offer More of the Same, Offer Different

If you’ve ever read a marketing book or attended a marketing class, you’ve read about differentiation.  Differentiation is the process of distinguishing your event from others, to make it more attractive to a particular target market. This involves differentiating it from competitors’ events as well as other events that you already hold.  So how do you determine if your event is different?  Let’s go back to our friend Marty Neumeier who writes about how to be radically different in his book Zag.

Complete this sentence: Our event is the ONLY __________ that __________.  For example, “our event is the only cycling event created by women, for women.” If you can’t keep it brief and use the word only, then you don’t have differentiation.  Your best option is to make a list of all competitor events who could make them same claim, then start to shift your strategy away from theirs.

Power of the Name

We have all heard the old saying that “a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.”  But, the truth is that names have power.  Look at the consumer marketplace.  There are many products sitting on shelves today that have no real difference other than their name.  Yet one sells and the other does not.  The power of marketing?  Maybe, but more likely the power of a name.

Take some time to really think about your event and the message you want to convey.  Then come up with a killer name that grabs the attention and sticks in the brain.  Follow it up with a strong tagline and you are in business. Back to our friend Marty, here are some quick tips for naming from his book The Brand Gap. A name should be: 1) different than those of competitors, 2) brief–four syllables or less, 3) appropriate, but not so descriptive that it sounds generic, 4) easy to spell, 5) satisfying to pronounce, 6) suitable for “brandplay,” and 7) legally defensible.

(Need more help with naming: our friends at Igor also publish a free guide on their website.)

Create a Logo

Once you have the audio (name) portion of your event in place, then it is time to move to the visual aspect of the program, a logo.  The short reason to have a logo is that it puts a face with the name.  It also gives you a powerful branding tool.  When creating promotional items such as T-Shirts, Water Bottles or even simply printing flyers, adding your event logo makes the items unique and gives your event a personality all its own.

Endorsements Anyone?

Adding the right endorsement to your event, be it celebrity, athlete or local personality, can go a long way in building your brand and enhancing your event.  It also helps to build the exclusive image that you want to convey.  The trick is to find the right face for your brand.  Think about the personal brand that you are building and then find the right endorsement fit rather than the other way around.

Brand from Top to Bottom

If you want your special events fundraiser to be epic, then you must elevate it from the realm of “mere event” to “true experience.”  The best way to do this is to create a fully branded experience from top to bottom.  Every aspect from the very first contact with perspective participants to the day of the event must be thought out and planned.  And your brand should be prominent throughout all of it.

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