Can you sum up your nonprofit consulting business in a word? No? Okay. How about two, three, four or five?
In other words, what’s your brand? What do clients think when your name comes up, they see you on the street or you walk in the door?
Just like the nonprofits you serve, you have a brand whether you like it or not.
And by the way, I’m not talking about your logo, or the color of your folders or design of your website… but they’re all part of your brand. They help mold that impression, but they are not the impression, alone.
Friendly? Efficient? Helpful?
Dour? Angry? Tough?
Your brand isn’t a logo or a sound. It’s the sum of everything you do.
How you answer the phone, how you interact with clients, the work product you deliver, how you deliver your work product, your use (or not) of technology, how you dress when you see clients, how you smell (yes, it’s true), your hairstyle, your age, and so much more: they’re all part of your brand.
Can you control your brand? Sure. You can control just about every aspect of your brand. On that list, the only one that you can’t is age, but if you’re in good shape or visit a good surgeon (not that I would recommend it!) you can adjust that impression, too.
Yet so few of us, yes, even nonprofit consultants, consciously and intentionally modify their brand beyond the colors of their website and maybe getting a logo.
Think about the difference your brand makes when you see a client. I have a friend who simply feels more comfortable in a tie. Yes, he’s in finance, where ties are expected. He does a lot of work with larger nonprofits. He feels, and has some anecdotal evidence to back this up, that a tie and a good suit give his clients confidence in his work. Ties are his brand, and everyone knows it. His entire ensemble, his haircut and how he speaks is his brand. It helps that he’s a really good, trustworthy guy, too. (But maybe I’m influenced by his brand?)
When was the last time you stood back and looked at your brand? Is it attracting the kind of nonprofits you want as clients?