Brand Strategy for Small Museums and Nonprofits

Strategy for Small Museums and Nonprofits

We know from 20 years of experience that a Brand Pyramid can transform organizations by showing them what to focus on and how to talk about themselves.


Imagine that you had a simple, one-page diagram on which the most fundamental questions about your brand were clearly answered. Imagine that you had agreed upon these answers with all of your colleagues and that you used them together to guide your decision-making. Imagine that whenever you had a disagreement, you could turn to these answers for a shared foundation to resolve the argument. Imagine that this document could keep personal taste from dominating discussions about how your logo or website should look. Imagine that you knew what you should emphasize to reach your target audience. This is what a good Brand Pyramid gives you.

Here are some problems this branding tutorial helps to address. Do you recognize any of these?

  • Are you sure that your limited staffing and marketing budgets are being used efficiently?
  • Are you finding that your message isn’t getting through to your audience?
  • Have you been asked to create a marketing campaign, but you don’t know where to start?
  • Do you sense that your board is not aligned with your staff?
  • Are you in meetings that go nowhere due to a lack of consensus?
  • Are your values and actions clearly connected to your offer?
  • Do you see people in different roles setting conflicting priorities?
  • Have you been asked to develop a strategic plan, but you don’t know where to start?
Ready to get started?
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If you have 25 or fewer paid employees, we offer
tiered pricing as described below. Write us at info@tronviggroup.com to receive a discount code. 
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Special Museum and Nonprofit Pricing

Here is our special museum and nonprofit pricing, scaled based on the size of the organization’s paid staff. In every case, the product offer is the same and includes the seven-part video tutorial and the three hour-long consulting sessions to make sure you get the most out of the effort:

  • Museums and nonprofits with 1-15 employees: $975
  • Museums and nonprofits with 16-25 employees: $1,475 
  • Museums and nonprofits with 26+ employees: $1,950 

Generally speaking, organizations with more than 30 employees should take advantage of our full commercial services which include workshops led in person by us, in-depth strategic consulting, customer research, and often executional creative. Our full process is described in detail here.

We feel strongly, therefore, that we are creating value for the museum and nonprofit community in a new, more accessible way with this guided branding tutorial and we genuinely hope that smaller museums and nonprofits will take advantage of it.

Brand Pyramid Workshops

Our Brand Pyramid workshops have been helping organizations, both large and small, to think more clearly about the value they add to the world and their communities and how they interact with their visitors/guests/donors (what we call “the customer”).

We really got what we wanted and came out of the strategy sessions in a much better place. We would not have been prepared to kick off a new brand without this core foundational work.

—Peggy Martin, Senior Director of Design and Communications, Lincoln Park Zoo

The Brand Pyramid has been tested and retested in our workshops over the years and we have improved and refined it so we are very confident of both its soundness and practical value.

The Brand Pyramid gave us focus on our overall marketing and branding efforts. The museum has been substantially bettered.

—Faust Gertz, Vesterheim: National Norwegian-American Museum

Until now, however, we had not found a way to get it into the hands of prospective clients who could not afford to have us build it with them through a live workshop.

Seeking a solution, we quietly launched a version of this product at the beginning of 2016. It was a do-it-yourself Brand Pyramid and it has been selling without promotion, but we sensed that some users were not taking full advantage of it. This inspired us to rework both the tutorial and the accompanying offer. We added more practical guidance and explanatory animations to the video and we broke it into seven bite-sized segments.

I’ve worked for 20 years as a consultant and have worked with other consultants. From a content perspective, I can hardly recall anyone who has the same mastery of organizational development theory. Tronvig Group was able to apply this expertise to our project [using the Brand Pyramid].

—Heidi Ruhe, Corporate Strategist, Ingalls Health System

This new seven-part video branding guide also includes three separate hour-long phone consulting sessions. These ensure that purchasers not only build a robust Brand Pyramid for their organization but that they also get feedback throughout the process, maximizing value from the Brand Pyramid once it’s completed.

“Building Your Brand Pyramid” Tutorial Offer

Strategy for small museums (Brand Pyramid)After talking with a number of institutions about their needs, we also set up a means-based pricing structure exclusive to museums and nonprofits. This is modeled after the American Alliance of Museum’s graduated membership pricing. We have three price brackets that discount deeply for smaller organizations.

I really like this product, and the way it neatly emerged from a quick labor nicely wrapped in a cute blanket … accurate and streamlined.

—Katherine Sarkis, Director, Brand Marketing and Creative, International Rescue Committee

FAQs: Branding Tutorial Video Series

Q: How much of the Tronvig Group process does the Branding Tutorial cover?

The seven videos explain the Brand Pyramid and help you properly build a Brand Pyramid for your organization, program, or exhibition.

The videos are as follows:

  • Video 1: Introduction to the Tronvig Group Brand Pyramid
  • Video 2: The What Level
  • Video 3: The How Level
  • Video 4: The Why Level
  • Video 5: Core Values
  • Video 6: The Brand Idea
  • Video 7: Appendix with pointers for running your own workshops

Q: Is there any guidance other than the videos?

There are the three consulting calls, of course, and there is also an accompanying worksheet for each level of the Brand Pyramid for use in the workshops. These reinforce the videos and help you shape the answers into their most useful format. The worksheets are designed to be completed during the workshop.

Q: What’s the best way to tell whether we need a Brand Pyramid?

Ask five to ten individuals, all at different levels within your organization, to write down their unprompted answers to these five questions:

  1. What is our organization, as described in a single sentence?
  2. How do we deliver value and how do we do so differently from our competition?
  3. Why does our core customer (client or audience) care about us?
  4. What are our Core Values? (Can you remember all of them and do you know how they apply to your work?)
  5. What is our Brand Idea?

If the answers you get are consistent, you don’t need one. If they are divergent, you do.

Q: Who should use the guided Branding Tutorial Video Series?

Organizations (generally with fewer than 30 employees) who do not have the budget to engage with a branding agency for comprehensive strategy services. Tronvig Group’s full offer of 360-branding services is outlined here. Another key use of the Brand Pyramid is to facilitate product-level strategy so that it can be used to clarify the strategy for a particular exhibition or program offering.

Q: What is included in the guided Branding Tutorial Video Series?

  • Access to the seven instructional videos
  • Three separate guidance calls with a consultant at Tronvig Group, who has been through this process many times.
  • The first call is to answer questions not answered here and to get you ready to run your own Brand Pyramid workshop.
  • The second call is to review the work product. Is your Brand Pyramid complete and sufficiently robust? What still needs to be worked on? What do you need to do to get it finished and ready to use?
  • The third call is to make sure the Brand Pyramid is ready and to help you put it to effective use in your organization, whether in managing your vendors or taking the next step in the brand process. We will look at what we have accomplished, what can be done with the Brand Pyramid, and what still needs to be done.

Q: How long are the videos?

The videos vary in length but are, in aggregate, about 1 hour and 5 minutes long. Video 1 (available for free download) is 15 minutes long; it introduces the Brand Pyramid and explains Tronvig Group’s philosophy. Videos 2 through 6 provide an in-depth explanation for each of the five levels of the Brand Pyramid. Video 7 shows you some additional thoughts and tips for leading a successful workshop.

Q: Who on our team should watch the videos?

Only the person who plans to lead the workshops needs to watch all the videos. If others are interested in learning more, they can watch the 15-minute introductory video, which explains the importance of this work and shows a 5-minute excerpt of a live workshop.

Q: Who on our team should lead the Brand Pyramid workshops?

The workshop leader can be either the marketing director or any other person who is a good facilitator. The leader of an organization should not lead the workshop.

Q: Who should we involve in the process?

The configuration of the workshop is highly dependent on the particular situation and the type and size of your organization. This is a key item on the first consulting call.

Q: How many people should participate?

The minimum number of participants for an effective workshop is 5 (not including the facilitator) and the maximum we have successfully managed was 35; however, the ideal number is between 10 and 20 participants. We will discuss this on your first consulting call.

Q: Can I use this Brand Pyramid workshop for a program or exhibition rather than the organization?

Yes, this is a key application of the Brand Pyramid, but it depends on having the elements of the Brand Pyramid already established at the organizational level. This issues can be addressed in the first consulting call.

Q: How long will the process take once we get started?

The process can be completed in a week or two with everything orchestrated perfectly, though typically it takes 4 to 6 weeks to accomplish.

Q: How many meetings do we need to schedule, how long should they last, and how far apart should they be?

Ideally, there should be two 4-hour meetings, but there are various constraints depending on the organization, and product-level workshops are typically much faster. This planning topic is a part of the first consulting call.

Q: What materials do we need for the workshop?

We find that the most constructive setup is to have multiple easels with large sticky-back flip charts. There should be ample markers to write down the group’s proposed answers and the notes should be torn from the flip charts and stuck to the wall for everyone’s reference. Participants can either have their own worksheets to write down consolidated answers or assign this to a meeting scribe. The printable worksheets are a part of the package, though three large sticky-back flip sheets and easels should be obtained in advance of the meeting.

Q: Where should the workshops take place?

They should take place in well-lit spaces, where participants will not be subject to interruption. These can be either on-site or off-site, though there are advantages to doing it at an off-site location. The room should be configured so that everyone can easily see the easels at the front of the room. Tables for the participants can be used but are not necessary.

Q: Who participates in the three phone sessions?

Either the workshop leader or a core team of 2 to 5 people who are responsible for the project’s success. The calls can be by phone or video, as desired.

Q: Can the entire team participate in the consulting sessions?

Yes. This may not be the most productive use of everyone’s time, but we are certainly happy to hold a phone or video conference call to answer questions from the whole group.

Q: Who will we be speaking with during the phone sessions and how long will they last?

Each phone session is one hour and if you are a museum or nonprofit, it will be led by James Heaton.

Q: What if we need more consulting time with Tronvig Group than is included in the package?

Extra sessions can be arranged. Phone and video consulting is available by contract or by credit card at $270 per hour (that’s with a 10% nonprofit discount applied).

Q: What will we have once we’ve completed the process?

To state the obvious first, you will have a Brand Pyramid for your organization. Our third consulting hour will focus on how to make use of it. This is a valuable tool in brand strategy, organizational alignment, employee retention, operations and program assessment, vendor management, and more. The most appropriate applications of your Brand Pyramid will be discussed during our consulting time. But to restate some examples that we outlined in our description of the product above, you should understand the Brand Pyramid as a simple, one-page diagram on which the most fundamental questions about your brand are clearly answered. You will have developed and agreed upon these answers with all of your colleagues so that you can use them together to guide your decision-making. When you have a disagreement, you can turn to the Brand Pyramid for a shared foundation with which to resolve the argument. You have a tool to prevent personal taste from dominating discussions about how your logo or website should look. You know what you should emphasize to reach your target audience. 

If you would like to have your Brand Pyramid placed in our design template for digital distribution or printing (with Tronvig Group branding), the additional cost is $150. Custom designs, or other augmentations, can be accommodated by request for $144 per hour of design time (10% nonprofit discount applied).

Q: I want to purchase and use the guided Branding Tutorial Video Series, but I need help convincing others. Why would this be a good use of our limited resources?

First, share the video promo on this page with them and ask them to watch the 15-minute introductory video here. If this is still not enough, we are happy to get on the phone with you and your boss or colleagues to answer any questions you might have. Email info@tronviggroup.com to arrange a call.

Q: Must the CEO/director/board chair be in the workshop?

It is critical to have anyone with the power to scuttle the process and prevent the implementation of changes needed present in the workshop to make the Brand Pyramid more than just a pretty piece of paper. If this is not possible, these individuals need to be fully aware of the work being done by the Brand Pyramid and prepared to endorse the result. If the Brand Pyramid is not sanctioned or supported by leadership, it will become little more than an interesting exercise.

Q: How do I get leadership to participate in the workshop?

As noted above, first, share the video promo on this page and ask them to watch the 15-minute introductory video, which can be accessed for free here. If this is still not enough, we are happy to get on the phone to help with this. Email info@tronviggroup.com to arrange this.

Q: Is there a standard invitation letter/email I can send out to describe the workshop and invite attendees?

We will give you a sample template based on your particular situation. This follows the first consulting call.