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The 5 Most Important Elements of Your Associationís Brand - 4/2/2014 -

Amanda Kaiser
Yes, the design elements of branding are importantóbut so are several other elements, like brand promise, voice, and story.

By Amanda Kaiser

We spend a disproportionate amount of time on our associationís brand look. We review iteration after iteration of a re-imagined logo. Every year we agonize over the conference look Ė location-based or theme-based? We tinker with website design. Look is critically important but so are the other elements of your brand.

When was the last time you thought about your associationís publications and content, and then carefully considered the following:
  1. Product ó what you offer, sell and create. This can be anything from your curated content newsletter to a research report to your annual conference. These are all your tangible benefits.

  2. Promise ó the feeling you create between you and your members. Many marketing experts call this a key value proposition or your key differentiator, but this makes brand promise sound so dry. The reason for brand promise is to create a feeling. Take Coca-Colaís brand promise. Itís not about how carefully they control quality to guarantee the precise quantity of sugar milligrams per can. Coca-Colaís brand promise is fun, freedom, and refreshment. They are appealing to your emotion, not your logic.

  3. Look ó this is your design, colors, patterns, and tones used to establish a consistent image. It includes your associationís logo, web design, the design of published material, email templates, stationary, and anything and everything that flows out of the association.

  4. Voice ó the tone a brand uses in advertising. Brand voice is a combination of personality and attitude. During research studies, big brands will often ask customers to describe the brand as if itís a person to better understand this dynamic. Over time, associations sometimes take on a brand voice, to their detriment, without even meaning to.

  5. Story ó uses words, images, and sound to create the associationís story. So many associations tell of features and benefits. However, notice that Coke doesnít market red cans of caffeinated bubbly sugar water ó they market youth, beauty, community, fun, and adventure.
Take some time to review your associationís look and the other four brand elements. Whatís working? Whatís not working? Is it time to refresh your brand? Your publications? How do members really feel about your brand?

Amanda Kaiser is head of Kaiser Insights LLC, a member research firm that helps associations deeply understand member challenges, needs, and wants. This article was reprinted with permission from Social Fish.


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