image of word cloud
communications, non-profit, portfolio

Branding On A Dime: One Example.

Anyone working with non-profits is all too familiar with budget constraints. Heck, even in better economic times, the non-profits I worked with ran lean. I’ve come to accept this reality as one of the traits working in the non-profit industry, and want to share a very fun challenge from a recent project I managed. Details and with links to the free resources after the jump!

The project was an annual conference in place for many years, but we wanted a fresh look to go along with some of the innovations we were putting in place this year. I felt we needed a soft re-branding.

I talked with the chair of the curriculum committee. She kept referring to TED talks as the inspiration for one of the sessions. She was excited about the multidisciplinary approach the panel was taking, especially the inclusion of technology resources.

After a few iterations of online image searches, I had my “a ha moment” when I saw tag clouds. Which led to word clouds. Which led to this:

image of word cloud

That was the final version, after several edits. My team and our volunteers liked it enough that we were able to make the case for the small license fee we needed to pay the online word cloud “generator.” They had a $75 non-profit license fee. It’s a fair fee for all the development work they put into the service over at

I found a few other resources and suggestions in my search that could be helpful to you:

The Logo Company. A low-cost logo design service. They offer the logo as a loss leader, and betting that your return business for other products will make up for the loss. I’ve used them before. I really liked working with them, and recommend them if you have the $149 in your budget.

99 Designs. They offer a contest-type platform, but they also have a $99 service to customize one of their ready-made logos.

You could try craigslist, and has a custom request feature. Art schools might be able to offer free logos as part of a student project. If you’re going to work with a school, advance planning is a good idea. Make the request before their quarter or semester starts. The school can match you up with the right course, and the professor can prepare you to work with her students.

We had a lot of fun with our low-cost logo, and it generated some buzz among our repeat attendees. We made sure to carry the logo across all our printed materials, making the re-branding cohesive and effective. (Of course, if I work on the project in the future, I’m building in the time and money to work with a professional graphic artist!)

If you have some other great resources, please share in the comments!

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