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Nonprofit Branding: How a Strong Tagline Can Benefit Your Nonprofit Organization

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Your organization’s tagline is hands-down the briefest, easy and most effective way to communicate your brand. It’s one of the six vital components of branding, along with your nonprofit’s name, positioning statement, key messages, tone and visual identity (logo, type, colors, images, look and feel.

The tagline is the heart of your organization’s brand, so it should be designed strategically, conveyed artfully, and delivered passionately and consistently. Most essentially, it should be such a natural outgrowth of your nonprofit’s name that the two are inextricably linked.

These characteristics make your tagline the marketing bite most frequently heard and read. Make sure it is, featuring it prominently in all print collateral and stationery, online communications (from e-newsletters and Web sites to email sigs), signage, conversations and presentations and, in some cases, your main voicemail. The American Liver Foundation puts its tagline front and center in its organizational voicemail, which is very useful, especially for those calling after hours.

An effective tagline differentiates you from your competitors while expressing your organization’s personality and adding consistency to your marketing and communications. And, because it’s positive, it generates a positive response from audiences.

When your tagline does work, it has the potential to become a perennial icon of your organization, lifting your brand from the commonplace to the unforgettable. Think “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste,” from the United Negro College Fund.

Your tagline should also work well as a lead-in to your positioning statement (the one to three sentences you’d use as a reply when asked what your organization does). In the broader picture, tagline development serves as a way to quickly and inexpensively refresh or revise your brand; an anchor for subsequent branding work if your organization doesn’t have the bandwidth or budget for an all-new or all-revised brand initiative.

The bonus? The tagline development process will help to align internal understanding of your organization’s direction and goals. Of course, the more complex your organization’s focus and programming, the more challenging it is to craft a powerful, accessible brand and tagline.

Beware, communicators. The absence of a tagline or the use of an ineffective one (and that’s 72% of you) puts your nonprofit at a competitive disadvantage in soliciting funding, building your staff and base, and increasing use of your programs, services and products.

Does your organization’s tagline attract attention?

About The Nonprofit Tagline Report

Many of you participated in Nancy Schwartz's non-profit tagline survey (over 1,800 organizations responded), and now Nancy has released The Nonprofit Tagline Report - An In-Depth Survey and Analysis: Building Your Brand in Eight Words or Less 

A couple of the many interesting tidbits from the report:

  • Taglines are the most efficient, most used branding tool out there, but 72% of nonprofits rate their taglines as poor or don't have one at all. 
  • 75% of human services agencies have taglines, but only 30% of environmental nonprofits do. 
  • Winners of the 2008 Nonprofit Tagline Awards are featured, along with more than 1,000 nonprofit tagline examples.
  •  “The Ten Have-Tos”- an excellent checklist for evaluating your own tagline.
  • “The 7 Deadly Sins to Avoid Like the Plague."  

 This report won’t write your tagline for you, but it will help you shape your next one (or one for your new program or campaign) to be much more powerful.  You can download the Nonprofit Tagline Report by visiting:

For more information

Planned Legacy
Suite 220 - 309 McDermot Avenue
Winnipeg, MB. Canada R3A 1T3
Phone: (204) 943-3923
Fax: (204) 943-4197
Toll Free: 1 (866) 882-3580
E-Mail: [email protected]

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