Top 10 Tips for Designing Your Nonprofit’s Logo

Your cause has value, and circulating your brand makes that value known. So how can you jumpstart branding for your nonprofit organization? By creating a crisp and effective logo.

An eye-catching logo gives your nonprofit an image and appeals to the target audience. It shows a visual representation of everything an organization stands for, enhancing potential constituents’ first impressions, building loyalty among supporters and demonstrating a professional standard. Think of your logo as a cause ambassador to potential supporters.

And while logos exist literally everywhere in today’s society (think golden arches, black swoosh or silver apple), they’re not necessarily easy to develop. Start the process by checking out these top 10 tips for designing your nonprofit’s logo.

1. Hire a professional.

It can be tempting to “save money” and create a brand logo yourself. However, if your nonprofit organization (NPO) really wants to establish credibility and longevity, hire a graphic designer who can help create a representation for your vision.

Professional designers have the experience and expertise to not only design an effective logo, but to account for effectiveness, medium adaptability and printing costs. While not hiring a designer may seem like a sound fiscal idea initially, it results in more time loss and headaches for you eventually. Professional designers in your field have the expert skills to take your group’s vision and make it a reality, while saving you the hassle.

2. Devote your time.

Creating a logo takes time, so before you start working with a graphic designer, consider what you want the logo to represent. Developing a brand uses a long process and a logo is no exception. Generate ideas to take to the designer and work through together. What do you want the logo to focus on? How does this logo represent your organization? Create a strategy team and use time to work through these questions and come up with a plan together.

3. Stand out from the crowd.

A lot of logos exist out there, so look at other logos in your field and develop a strategy to make yours stand out from the crowd. When your brand has a fresh and unique design, viewers will be more attracted to it and more likely to get involved with your cause. Conduct research and work with your designer to create a logo which fits your needs while still unique.

4. Focus on your mission.

When developing ideas for your nonprofit’s logo, focus on a specific mission. Consider focal points like what you do, how you make a difference, what constituents like about your group and what you want future supporters to think. If your NPO works in a variety of different areas, choose a focus topic and target the logo towards it.

Potential volunteers and donors should be able to look at your organization’s logo and have a general idea of your involvement. Consider The Humane Society of the United States’ logo. One glance and a viewer easily gathers it works for the betterment of animal lives in the U.S.

5. Develop a tagline.

A tagline incorporates into the logo and sums up your nonprofit organization’s services in 3–7 words. While not necessary, it adds an extra dose of intrigue and interest to a logo design. For example, take a look at this Autism Speaks logo, with the tagline “It’s time to listen.” If your NPO has a significant phrase which fits in well with your logo as a tagline, work through it with your designer and use it to your advantage.

6. Consider your options.

Once you have an idea to focus on for your logo, consider your options. There are three main types of logos:

1. Font-based logos have primarily text with the name of the organization, such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

2. Icon or symbol logos have no text and merely a graphic to represent the organization. For example, charity: water. Unless your NPO has a large follower base, a solo icon logo would not be recommended.

3. A combination logo combines text and an icon for a complete logo image. These tend to be the most common, such as the World Wildlife Fund.

No matter which type of logo design your group chooses to utilize, be sure it represents your cause and organization mission well.

7. Keep it simple.

When coming up with design ideas for your logo, remember: the simpler, the better. Excessively complex logos can overwhelm viewers and actually have a negative effect. Choose easy-to-read fonts, crisp colors and a clear design. A creative yet simple logo demonstrates the organization’s credibility and professionalism, while catching viewers’ eyes and generating higher engagement.

8. Choose your colors.

Your logo’s color scheme has importance. Color production costs can be excessive and too many colors overwhelm viewers, so keep the colors in your logo to a maximum of three to four. Subconsciously, different colors affect our brains in different ways. Choose colors which represent your organization, but consider the emotions a color can evoke:

  • Blue: trustworthy, tranquil, dependable, medical
  • Green: growth, relaxation, instructional, nature
  • Red: bold, movement, urgency, sexy
  • Orange: energy, creative, friendly, youthful
  • Yellow: optimism, youthful, clarity, inventive
  • Purple: spiritual, wise, imagination, luxury
  • Black: powerful, credible, sleekness, precision
  • Pink: romantic, feminine, fun, tenderness
  • White: clean, simple, perfection, purity
  • Brown: stability, structure, support, history

9. Remember adaptability.

Adaptability is key in reaching out to a variety of different audiences to grow your cause through your logo. Your NPO logo should adapt to all sorts of different mediums—online, in print or on merchandise. It needs to look crisp and clean whether printed on a business card or plastered on the side of a truck. This means the logo can be scaled and easy to produce, so keep this in mind while working with a designer. Consider the production limits of different kinds of media. For example, if your logo has small print or a lot of text, it may be hard to see and read online.

10. Make it lasting.

Finally, don’t follow the trends with your logo. Aim for a classic and timeless design which can undergo gradual changes over a long course of time. Your logo should not have any drastic alterations once produced. Choose something which will stay current for 10–20 years or longer. Work with a designer to create a simple and original design with a timeless look so your nonprofit can focus on its cause rather than continually producing logos.

The logo your NPO chooses takes the first step in marketing your brand and growing your cause. It reflects personality and mission, so take time and consider all of your options. A well-crafted logo makes your nonprofit stand out from the crowd. So utilize a designer, try it out and see everything a creative logo can do for your nonprofit organization.

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