Your Brand Is Not A Logo

social fish
social fish

Your brand is not advertising. Your brand is not a clever name for a product. Your association’s brand is the combination of one hundred little and big things that give members an impression of the organization and what it can do for them.

Inputs to an association’s brand can range from how accessible staff is to the feel of the cover stock on the monthly magazine. It’s the feeling a new attendee gets when walking up to conference registration for the first time. Or the satisfaction they get when they quickly find the statistic they were looking for on your website. Perhaps it is the disappointment a member experiences when turned down for a volunteer opportunity.

Do you feel your association’s brand may not be serving you as well as it should? Since there are so many touch points that feed into a brand’s overall impression how do you even start? You can begin by answering these questions:

  • What is the big idea and why does it matter? This is probably your mission or cause. Does the staff need to reconnect to the mission? Do you need to do a better job of articulating why the mission matters? How does your mission change the lives of those you serve?
  • What does the leadership and staff believe? Beliefs about the association, profession and the industry profoundly shape outcomes. What are the general beliefs around risk, innovation, technology, leadership and communication? Is the association bold or mild? Is the association a catalyst or a reporter?
  • How do members feel about the association? When your members describe the association what adjectives do they use? Is it hard to describe? What are their emotions? Are they excited, angry or blasé?
  • What negative brand signals are being given? What positive brand signals are being given? Are there things that hurt the association that you don’t even know about? What do people love about the association?

Rebranding is like moving a 95,000 ton aircraft carrier. It takes many small impressions to change someone’s overall perception of an association. However, with a great strategy, time and consistency it can be done. Brands are successfully turned-around all the time. Just look at this membership company (Netflix).


Do you need to learn more about how members view your brand? Amanda Kaiser helps associations stay relevant by deeply understanding member challenges, needs and wants.  Find her at or on Twitter at @SmoothThePath.

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