Branding and community events non profit

I am hoping someone can help me here with some advice or help in dealing with something that just came up. I moved to a small community and recently got involved with a community event. I have spent tons of volunteer hours working to the wee hours on branding and helping with the visual communications and then put up a post announcing the event as coming soon. I have all the sponsors logos put up and they generously allowed me to put my logo up as sponsorship in kind. They now want me to take the words Branding & Corporate Identity out and sent me this in an email. I feel gutted.

I just saw your post on (Facebook Page)
Sorry, but I feel very strongly on this. Can you just remove your word “ branding” .
For a community festival event this is such a corporate word and nobody, no community festival, would ever talk about the “ branding”. It’s a collective event.

On further reflection, I know you have your logo on for website media and it says your name with “ Branding and Corporate Identity” I struggled with this but (name) and I respect the work you have done and see you as a sponsor. But…For this event, could you take this off and just leave your name as a logo?

If you want to use “Branding and Corporate Identity” for your personal portfolio on your own website that’s fine but not for this. “Branding” we talk about eg the logo, the bannering, but not on paper as a community driven event.

So sorry to have this perspective but it’s a community event not a corporate one, an event put on by many people. You may well not agree with this and I’m sorry again if you think it’s a weird stance but… in the festival world it’s not.

Maybe most people might not think much of using “ branding” but in my folk/roots/community world it’s just not done.

Me again: I have done work for many non profit and community events in my lifetime - several larger than this and I have never been asked to take the word branding out my posts or logo. I will do, but I think they are missing the point of what branding is and can do for any association, corporate or not. Plus they have asked for sponsorship from many of the businesses that serve the community. I feel like I need to respond, but not in a “Diva” style. Can someone help me ? What are your thoughts?

The event is an event with musicians, poets, storytellers, artists and more. Many are big names in the national or at least provincial world. Would it be appropriate to say something like “branding not used in the festival world” is like saying a musician should not use personal branding or an agent, an artist should not either nor have a website to sell their art"… or am I offtrack here and making too much of it…

Can you clarify? Are you saying that your logo contains the tagline “Branding & Corporate identity” or does it say something like branding and corporate identity provided by “XYZ”?

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No a post I put up refers to me working on the branding as a small part of an incredible community team (in an announcement with graphics that it is coming soon and watch for it), and also my logo has the words “Branding & Corporate Identity” below the image.

This person is overreacting to something that deserves no reaction at all. It’s apparently a pet peeve sort of thing that, for whatever weird reason, means something to her but no one else. Perhaps she equates branding with branding cattle and is repulsed by the word.

Did you have a formal contract or was this an informal freebie thing? If anything was in writing giving you a sponsor position for your logo, it would seem you have a legal right to have your logo there if it includes a tagline. Do any of the other sponsor logos include taglines?

Could you compromise and just remove branding while leaving corporate identity? In this context, both terms mean roughly the same thing.

You seem to feel strongly about this. Why? Do you see it as important advertising? Would you not have taken on the job if you had known this in advance?

I can’t tell you what to do, though. Much depends on how strongly you feel about it. I would recommend analyzing your reasoning for not just rolling your eyes and going along with the request. If it’s more of an emotional reaction than a practical one, I might suggest that it’s not worth stressing over. If it’s a practical concern about exchanging services for advertising, maybe you ought to refuse (if that’s possible).

Another concern is that in a small community (I grew up in one), personal relationships matter. It’s best not to burn bridges unless you’re willing to live with consequences that might extend beyond this single issue.

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My logo is in with the other sponsors that have put in money or work in kind. They told me I was welcome to put my logo in.

Had they seen your logo with the tagline before this?
Would they have let you put it in if you had given them real money?
You might be able to say, politely, that your time is money.

I do tend to overreact myself. Someone volunteered me for the job and I agreed to do it happily. It is a very small community and I am new to it and thought. Many of the logos have taglines. I guess I get stressed when people think of branding or identity work not really all that necessary. I guess I will roll my eyes on this one and go along with the request. I was just hoping for something provactive so they might understand how important branding and graphic design is for any event and especially a non-profit community event.

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Say you’ve considered it and share their concerns. But with your name/logo on the event, people won’t know what you are.
Ask them instead of removing it - that you can put in a different tagline - like Graphic Designer - or even your website.

No need to fall out over it - just ask if something different to show people how you were involved in this voluntary event.

Reiterate that you are a volunteer and not paid for this project, and if they are not budging then say - sorry I feel it’s appropriate and it’s unfortunate that they have not seen the value of branding and identity that you brought to the festival voluntarily.

I’d then go into a spiel about how it’s corporate wording.

Leave it at that.

There’s not really anything they can do about it anyway.

Thank you for your thoughts. I wished I had read them earlier, because what you have said is very good. I would just put Graphic Designer under the logo. Instead I just took my logo out, as just my name seemed too much and not right without a tagline. What’s done is done. I do feel they have not seen the value of branding and identity that I, (or anyone in my field can do) and bring to the festival voluntarily.
C’est la vie…

Live and learn.

Next time draw up 2 options and ask which option they would prefer you use.

That way - you get to give them 2 options that you’re happy with, either is good, and then they feel like they had some input and approved you.

I used to do this years ago when working for someone else. They’d ask me to design a poster or a flyer or a newspaper advert. No matter what it was. And said - always - to give them 2 options.

I’d put both options down for them and they’d ALWAYS ask which one I would choose. No matter what one I picked they picked the opposite.

I copped on to this after the 2nd time - it wasn’t a very sophisticated picking method.
So when he asked me what one I’d pick - I’d always pick the one that I didn’t like.

In turn, they picked the other one, which is the one I would have chosen.

We both got our way.

Sometimes people in power act like kids, like that kid that won’t wear the outfit you already picked out and ironed for them, throw a tantrum that they don’t want to wear that. But - put out two outfits and ask them what they want - they feel like they picked their outfit, but in reality you gave them 2 outfits that you’re happy with.


Yeah, I can actually see what they’re saying. They don’t want their audience to think of the music as a “product”, and by allowing the word branding to appear, it looks like they are advertising their betrayal of that value. I’d take them at their word that this wouldn’t go over well.

Sound advice.

The thing with non-profit community events is they tend to have a frequently changing cast of characters in leadership. So even if you sell the current group on the need to invest in identity, you’ll need to pitch it again next year when some of that group is replaced. And again the year after that.

Sometimes people in power act like dogs, and pee on things to mark their territory.

You get this in all walks of life. I worked in a place before that in 5 years there was 8 different managers. Each manager brought in a different workflow, and left leaving that in place, and with each new manager, had to explain the process, the clients, the procedures, the SOP - and all that stuff. And with each it was a different way of communicating. The clients got confused, didn’t know who to contact or what to do or why we weren’t responding the same way.

When the 8th guy was given the boot, I took it on myself to ask the Managing Director (and owner) for a meeting. And I explained our clients are baffled by having to deal with a new manager each year.

It was decided then that no manager was needed and the department just ran itself with no intervention from any manager.

Well, that wasn’t the point of the story, the bit you snipped ha ha ha - it was more to give them a choice and make it seem like they are approving it and picking it. Works with kids, works with adults. It’s a powerful way to get your design across the table and make them feel like they made the final decision.

When I was leading teams at various agency jobs, I’d often identify two or three decisions where there was no clear right or wrong choice — for example, this or that color or a choice between two equally good typefaces.

I’d present those decisions to the client as though we needed their input to help us make a final decision. We didn’t, of course, need their input, but it got them involved and made them feel as though they had some creative ownership in the project. More important was that it let them fiddle around with something that made no difference instead of screwing up something important with their meddling and bad ideas.


I bet you got a lot of - I like the font in option 1, the colour in option 2, and the layout of option 3.

Except there were no options here, as I was not presenting a logo. I was merely doing some volunteer design work for their event and trying to brand it. I happened to mention on my FB page that I was excited about working on the branding for an upcoming big community event page and to hold the date, etc, watch for it Coming Soon, etc as they wanted to get the word out. … and then put a few graphic elements up as a teaser. I also mentioned that there were many many volunteers, I was just doing a small part, etc.
They had told me I could put my logo in with the other corporate sponsors, so I did. Then asked me to take the word branding out my post and remove it from my logo as well.
In the corporate world with our design firm, we always offered more than one design for branding, and yes as some have said here, we would get take the font from there, the colours from that one, etc. or as another person said, they would ask which one I liked and pick the other…
and in life, I soon learned to give my son a couple of choices of what to wear to get dressed for school, otherwise he would throw a tantrum… it’s all one big happy journey…

I think you learned a valuable lesson …or two :wink:

The main one … Don’t post about your job on Social Media that is attached to your real name.


People are always watching.

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Did someone get busted, again? :laughing: