While a great logo is only one part of the bigger effort of branding a non-profit, it can serve as a great way to portray a goal or objective with few words. From timeless icons to modern rebrandings, the best nonprofit logos are memorable, adaptable and need no explanation.
Logos matter for all organizations, but for non-profits especially a strong logo can help with standing out amongst other non-profits in crowded sectors or initial introducing a mission or goal. Paired with having an active social media presence and an engaging website that keeps people coming back, a strong brand can be a leg up for a non-profit of any size.
1. Ann Arbor Film Festival
The Ann Arbor Film Festival is nation’s oldest running independent film festival, but you wouldn’t know it from their logo. The strength of the branding is in the multiple readings of the logo, from the more obvious A and F shapes that remind viewers of the festival more than a basic geometric logo might, to the creation of a film screen when brought together. By creating a black and white identity, the logo also leaves room for colored variations in different marketing materials making it especially functional. The festival can easily use this logo on giveaways, printed and online marketing materials and more.
2. Conservation International
When Conservation International, one of the leading nonprofit environmental agencies in the world, rebranded in 2010, the goal was to broaden its reach and introduce a new focus on humankind’s reliance on nature. The simplified new logo suggests the whole earth, compared to the jungle imagery of their old logo, and also can be seen as a human figure. A good logo suggests what an organization is all about, but leaves some of the work to the viewer and does not limit readings.
3. Heart & Stroke
The Canadian organization dedicated to fighting against heart disease and stroke has a logo so brazenly literal, you almost miss it. Of course, the icon here is a heart and a stroke, with colors that evoke not only heart disease but also the Canadian flag. The logo takes a bold risk by having an icon more than twice the size of the wordmark, allowing it to be easily translated to French or altered to feature other text, as the icon is the focal point not the words. Again, the applications for the logo happen naturally too, with or without the text.
4. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
The logo for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America takes the overused military stencil cliché and makes it fresh, powerful and ultimately, appropriate. The modern logo also moves away from traditional ideas of who a veteran might be, and reminds the viewer that these veterans are a young group from events that happened less than two decades ago. The logo also shows that even organizations committed to serious causes can benefit from fresh, clever branding.
5. The National Railway Museum
It’s no surprise that art organizations have some of the most eye-catching logos, with The Museum of Modern Art, The Boston Design Museum, The Portland Art Museum and a long list of other institutions getting frequent applause for their branding. The National Railway Museum is worth talking about too, though. In 2011, the British museum went from a clunky logo with the letters NRM to a new design that mixes a sleek icon with classic typography. The logo suggests the objective of the museum, which is to make an older technology seem new again. When deciding to go modern or classic for your logo, don’t feel like you have go completely in either direction.
6. One Feeds Two
If you don’t get the idea of what One Feeds Two aims to do from their name, you will from their logo. The logo succeeds because it focuses on the fact that supporting the cause can make you feel good, and make the people you’re helping feel good, too. Rather than pulling on heartstrings or pushing guilt as some other hunger-based charities do, the One Feeds Two iconography a bold and simple call to action. The One Feeds Two logo shows you the solution they’re looking for, not the problems faced, suggesting that they are an essential part of the answer.
(RED)’s simple logo is versatile and recognizable, and easy to work with when partnering with other iconic brands to fight HIV AIDS. From Apple and Dell to Nike and Converse, the (RED) logo is more of a concept than just a piece of branding material. Similar to a red cross or a pink ribbon, (RED)’s pair of parentheses can suggest a commitment to a cause without saying anything.
8. Seattle Children’s Hospital
Organizations working directly with children are faced with the challenge of creating identities that are both professional and playful. The whales in the Seattle Children’s logo, paired with a clean sans-serif font, do just that. The logo also has the added benefit of being a versatile circle that can be easily applied to marketing materials, and evokes the organization’s geography with the choice of a whale as opposed to a different animal.
9. Speak Up Africa
Speak Up Africa, an advocacy and communications organization that facilitates African leadership and ownership, has packed layers of information into their logo design. The logo mimics speech and sound, hinting at the name of the non-profit, and also takes a clever approach of forming the shape of Africa. The broader imagery of circles also suggests the bigger goal of the organization, which is to connect and form partnerships. The logo is clean and fresh and while the organization may not have the same recognizability yet as other non-profits, the logo will certainly stick with you.
Often called one of the most iconic logos of all time, the WWF’s panda has evolved since the organization’s founding in 1961, but never lost his recognizability or cuteness. The endangered panda has remained a key branding element for the organization through the years, almost taking on the role of a mascot. Even without the WWF text that was added to the logo in 1986, the panda remains a symbol of the organization and can be identified in any setting.