Whether your nonprofit is a team of one or a team of 101, some type of brand and style guide is always helpful for your organization. These guides can help with transitions, onboarding new staff or volunteers, and can improve your productivity.
Through my process of creating the Center’s brand and style guide, I found many tricks and resources that can help you begin your guide creation.
Outline Your Needs
What works for your neighbor doesn’t necessarily work for you and there is no one way to layout your guidelines. There are many articles that tell you what needs to be included and that can be very daunting. Please don’t let that stop you. Create what you need and leave the rest alone.
At the Center we needed to have consistent branding (logos, colors, fonts, etc.), a consistent voice and tone (when to be more serious and when to be more fun), and consistent formatting (punctuation, capitalization, etc.). You can see a presentation of our current guide here.
Simple and Concise
Your guide can simply be one page or span across multiple with more details but each element should be easy to understand by anyone. This will make it the perfect tool for when a volunteer or student intern creates or contributes to a project. Each element will already be in the correct format and significantly lessens the amount of time spent on editing. You will be closer to publishing/posting/sharing the content needed to achieve your mission!
The Center’s guide relies heavily on bullet points and examples to bring the user up to speed fast.
“Steal” Like a Nonprofit
I am a big fan of author Austin Kleon. His book Steal Like An Artist focuses on advice to creators just starting out, however, I feel that his take on “remix culture” can help Idaho nonprofits. Get inspired by others then adapt the content to your needs and purpose. You never need to start from scratch!
I borrowed and adapted from the MailChimp and Starbucks guides to help shape the Center’s.
A brand and style guide tends to be created then never brought out again. I would advise against this. A style guide should be a living document and to be revisited when your needs evolve. A new program could change your tone or a new Facebook update could change your social media policy.
As our team grows, the Center has different needs. When an issue comes up, I look up what our guide says and make appropriate changes if the situation calls for it.
You Can Do It!
The brand and style guide is to help make your life easier and to support your mission. You’ll get to the meatier parts of your job faster!
If you have any questions, please reach out by replying to the most recent CenterView that was sent to your inbox or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope you find these resources beneficial. We welcome suggestions on how we can improve this section. Contact us at