Branding on a Budget for Social Good Companies

How to Invest in Branding When You Have No Money to Spare

Aug 17, 2018 · 8 min read

All great brands start much deeper than what you eventually see translated into logos or graphics.

At the core of remarkable brands, there is a deep understanding of the purpose and strategic direction of the organization. This inner awareness is critical. If you skip it you could end up with a brand that falls flat, doesn’t feel authentic, or entirely misses the mark with your audience.

“A brand is a feeling, an emotional connection. It’s something that is much bigger than just a logo. A logo is the visual articulation of a brand. A brand to us is a promise. A consistent promise that a company or an organization delivers over time. It’s something that you want to believe in and participate in. It’s something that has to be crafted and well-delivered by that company to the consumer or the audience.”

While you will eventually need a designer to help execute your brand’s visual elements, having clarity of purpose, values, and differentiation will considerably influence your overall brand identity.

  • What are your core values? How will your organization behave?
  • What will you do differently? How will you stand apart?

#1 — Know Your Purpose

“It is critical to understand the essence of your brand before bringing it to life.” — Debbie Millman

  • Purpose-driven strategy — “A purpose-driven strategy can be described as ‘one that refers to its purpose to drive, integrate and evaluate everything the organization does in order to ensure it creates its desired future.’”

“Purpose has informed everything we’ve done since day one. We really believe we’re here to make better things in a better way. That’s one of the ways we simplify the idea behind the brand, but it’s also really important that people understand we have a strong belief that comfort, great design, and sustainability can live harmoniously in a pair of shoes.”

Honing in on your organizational purpose is something that only your team can truly articulate. Even when working with brand strategists and designers, they will rely on you for these insights.

#2 — Know What You Value

“The notion of a brand has now extended to how we live, what we choose to surround ourselves by, and the way in which we want the world to be.” — Debbie Millman

#3 — Know What You Do Differently

“This is a very complicated world; it’s a very noisy world. And we’re not going to get the chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us.” -Steve Jobs

What do I want to be known for?

Your product or service has multiple features and benefits for your users, but what is the single most interesting, helpful, unique, surprising, etc., thing for which you want to be known and remembered?

  • Kept = keep indicates performance. It is the action you take to back up and prove out the story you promised. It is the real value created for your customers.
  • Over time = over time indicates your ability to push through time, or think into the future and anticipate where the world is going so you can stay salient and relevant.

When it is Time to Bring in the Experts


Whether you are conscious of it or not, through your actions and messaging, your venture will develop a brand image organically. Therefore, it’s worth taking some time early on to craft your brand intentionally.

To get started, read our branding guide — How to Think Like a Brand Strategist to Connect with Your Audience and Maximize Your Social Impact.


Danielle Sutton is the Content Animator at Acumen where she surfaces stories to inspire and activate social entrepreneurs. In an age of information overload, she believes in learning ‘the right thing at the right time’ to intentionally design impactful social enterprises. You can usually find Danielle digging into the Acumen course library, playing in the mountains, or exploring marketing on The Sedge blog.

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The world’s school for social change. We help change-makers like you become more active and effective at creating positive social change.


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We’re the world’s school for social change. We help change-makers like you become more active and effective at creating positive social change.

+Acumen Voices

The world’s school for social change. We help change-makers like you become more active and effective at creating positive social change.