Because we work with associations at MultiView, I have learned that branding for each specific industry is important. The difference with the branding of each industry versus individual companies is that the members (i.e. companies such as Pepsi and Apple) of an association all comprise and link together to provide the brand name that is an association.
Comparatively though, organizations who have such strong branding contain employees which are the backbone and life support to their respective companies. The same applies to associations. Without members, what would an association be?
Employees and association members are the biggest advocates to its brand. A passionate and loyal employee or association member fuels the growth of an organization through recruiting. An individual with a true passion for their organization would fight to make sure the organization is represented highly when speaking to potential members/employees.
From the other perspective, an individual who is unsatisfied with their role in an organization is likely to not represent their organization’s brand name in a high regard. They will be less likely to speak highly to prospective members/employees and not fight to maintain a brand’s value.
With this being said, here are a couple of tips to aid in your association’s branding:
1. Listen to your members. Sounds easy, right? It can be if you give your members the right tools to reach out to you. Social media is a great start. Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and Google+ all provide your members with a non-threatening, somewhat informal platform to express their opinions. Use these tools to ask questions and engage your members on a regular basis. Another great tool is to have a page on your website for your members to submit their comments and critiques. There are many other ways to make this happen, but the bottom line is that you should be constantly listening to your members so they are confident in your association brand and, in turn, promote it.
2. Offer your members opportunities they can’t get elsewhere. This one doesn’t sound as easy, and many associations struggle with it. Take a second and breathe. Your association has more than likely been around for at least a century. Do you know what that means? You are offering your members a century’s worth of experience, knowledge and leadership. Keep offering your members those things with ever-evolving technology, and you will have them touting your praises and helping your brand along the way.
Individuals have the power to increase an organization’s brand name because they, along with other individuals have the power to make or break a brand just through communication with others. What message do you believe your employees/association members are communicating today about your brand?