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Essential Logo Design Tips for Nonprofits

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A logo is usually a simple image people see and, in a good case, associate with something.

Of course, an efficient and well-made logo will be associated with the organization it was made for, including certain symbols representing the mission and vision of that organization and telling its story, or at least stimulating people to want to learn that story.

Now that’s the perfect logo, of course, each nonprofit wants to have.

This article will help you learn the secrets of nonprofit organization logo design and tell you about the most common mistakes many NPO make or don’t notice when designing theirs (losing benefits they could have had with an effective one).

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Why a logo is an important element of the NPO identity?

Not only does a logo represent your NPO, but also helps you complete very important objectives for the promotion of the organization. One of the most common negative effects of having a bad logo is that it’s making the wrong impression on your potential donors and supporters. And this is not something you want, right? As a strong visual tool, logos usually work with associations.

This is why it is so important to create a good logo and in case you already have one then regularly revise it, update it, or even remake it.

5 features of a good logo

There are two ways you may want to check a logo to see whether it is an efficient one. The first way is to check whether it complies with the following features.

1. Unique & Meaningful

Those features go together and should not be separated. A specific logo can be created only if you create specific requirements for it. Describe your organization, its values and objectives, its mission, tone of voice, audience, and associations you want to create. Include those elements in the terms of reference for your logo design so that designers could consider all of them when working on your logo. In case you already have a logo, try to describe it in a couple of words. Can you do it? If not, then it is not specific enough to represent your unique organization and the meaning of all the things you do.

2. Easy-to-remember

You can run a 10-second test when looking at the different options of your logo to see if it’s easy to remember or not. If you see them for the first time, then do not look at them for more than a couple of seconds. Then try to look at something else. Ten seconds later, close your eyes and try to remember the logo you have seen. Can you do it? If not, then your audience will have trouble remembering it too. In case you already have a logo, try to run the same test with your supporters or friends.

It is a very important feature if you are running regular fundraising campaigns and long to get more regular donors. Many nonprofits look for fundraising logo ideas to implement in their logos so that the donors would remember their organizations, and it would be easier to stimulate them to make more regular or bigger donations.

3. Colour smart

Your visual identity includes a colour palette, designed with consideration of all the values, messages, and objectives of your organization. Give this palette to a designer, responsible for your logo design, to use it. If you do not have a brand book yet, then think about associations you want your audience to have with your organization. For example, green is usually associated with nature, blue – with technologies and water, and red – with aggression. Be wise to choose the right colour for your logo, as colours are quite a powerful visual tool.

4. Well-balanced

All the elements of the logo should be balanced and work together well. What elements? A font (or even a few ones), shapes, and different graphic features should work well with the colours and match each other. It’s one impression and one image everyone should see when looking at your logo – not a mixture of different elements that might look interesting one by one but not make up an integral image.

5. Adaptive

Your logo will always have both coloured and B&W versions. So the colours should be easily adaptive. Another point is that you will lose your logo on multiple platforms with different visual requirements and options. The logo should be available in vertical and horizontal layouts, easily fit and be noticeable on an envelope or a stamp, look great on your website and Social Media, as well as fit both digital and printed materials.

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8 mistakes to avoid when designing a logo for your NPO

Another way to see how well your logo matches your organization is to check if it has certain negative features, like the following ones:

1. Being outdated

This is very simple – if your logo looks old-fashioned, it should be refreshed.

If your organization changed even in the slightest way, then your logo should be updated too. Look at the business giants that have been there for ages – their logos change and adapt to each new day together with them. Nonprofits should follow this approach.

2. Confusion

You might have seen logos that gave you the wrong idea about the companies they represented. This is a mistake. You cannot strive to save wildlife and have a chair icon as your logo, for example.

Try to give your audience the right idea about what your organization does – let your logo help your supporters and donors identify you the right way.

3. Similarities

Now, when a person sees your logo and thinks about different NPO or even a business organization, it is not good for you.

A good investigation should always be performed before you accept and start using a logo. Moreover, if your logo is too similar to some other one then you might find yourself even in a lawsuit and this is not what you want.

4. Silence

What story does your logo tell? If there’s no story but only silence, then you might want to consider transforming it into a better one. It can be just one element that it’s missing, a flag, or a leaf, for example, to start talking.

Help your logo tell your story and your mission!

5. Missed connection

There is a certain connection between your organization and your logo. So each time your NPO grows, changes, or alters certain actions or approaches, your logo should do the same. Or it should be designed in a way to fit your organization with all those perspectives being taken into account from the very beginning.

Make sure your logo always represents your organization, its present, and future. Do not let it represent your past.

6. Marketing-free

Yes, you run a nonprofit organization. But you do it professionally, right? Because you have a mission to complete and really important objectives that matter. Then make sure your organization uses branded elements and has an actual visual identity.

Your emails, business cards, letterheads, website, and social media should be designed in a professional and marketing-friendly way.

And your logo should fit all those materials, following this visual style. Multiple companies deal with designing for nonprofits professionally and know how to make an NPO-oriented & marketing-friendly logo.

7. Disliked

It often happens that you get used to something, so it becomes a bit difficult to evaluate it objectively. Or maybe your friend designed a logo for your organization, and you do not want to offend them by not using it? In both cases, this logo will do your organization no good.

If you do not like it, if others do not like it, then you need a new one. As soon as possible.

8. Non-professional

A professional logo is usually authentic and timeless. Most probably if it is an amateur one then it certainly will require a professional remake or match at least one other mistake mentioned earlier.

Yes, you may want to save some resources by letting one of your supporters create it for engaging reasons or even allow your friends to do a good thing for your organization by designing a logo, but… Do you want your organization to be represented via a non-professional visual gateway? Designing for nonprofits should always be a task for professionals.

Take some time to design a good logo for your nonprofit, and you will see how a correct first impression and the power of associations help you engage your supporters, and donors and keep on making a difference.



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