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Why a strong brand is important for associations

2 min read

With so many different associations competing for members – many within the same industry and with similar benefits and service offerings – it can be hard for an association to stand out and differentiate itself in the eyes of potential members. Good branding can separate your association from others, and by doing so receive more attention and more members.

What is branding?

Branding is much more than a logo design and colour scheme. Good brands tell potential members what your association stands for, giving meaning to your product or service. Simply put, it’s how your members see you.

Association marketing specialists Third Sector Services identify the following as crucial branding elements:

1. Graphics
Symbols, logos and colours are important cues for associations. They aid recognition and help form a perception about what association does and what it stands for. A well designed logo can represent the professionalism of an association, leaves a greater impression on potential members and can even demonstrate the type of services that the association offers.

2. Identity
This relates to how the association wants the brand to be perceived, or what they want their brand stands for. For example, an association may believe in providing outstanding service, which they demonstrate through being available at any time. Or, an association may stand for innovation via its services that are featured in their advertising, with all language focusing on innovation. Identity helps establish a relationship between the member and the association.

3. Personality
Brands have human-like characteristics that personify the association. Having a strong and understandable brand personality will help an association portray itself more clearly in marketing material and advertising, and build a stronger message. The clearer and more coherent the brand portrayal is, the better potential members will recognise and recall the association. Displaying a clear brand personality also helps members identify with the association on a more personal level.

4. Values
Most associations have beliefs and core values, such as innovation, professionalism or community, and these should be reflected in your brand. The clearer the values are the more prospective members will identify with your brand, which will increase their preference for your association over others.

5. Implementation

Once all of the components have been determined, the brand needs to be implemented via coherent and consistent use of the logo, tagline, use of language in advertising and other communication tools, image choices, and interactions with members. For branding to have its maximum effect, all staff must understand and engage in the association’s brand to ensure the message is clear and consistent.

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