2 min read

Is It Time to Rebrand Your Association?

Is It Time to Rebrand Your Association?

Santa Claus, the Brand

“*Santa* is a Concept, not an idea. It’s an Emotion, not a feeling. It’s both Yesterday and Today. And it’s Tomorrow as well.”

So begins the tongue-in-cheek brand guide to “Santa” by U.K. agency QuietRoom. The brand book offers a range of communication guidelines:

- Concept (“brand is a sack on the sleigh of belief”)

- Language (“the words we use must always be convivial, festivious, and jollificatory”)

- Brand typeface (“Santa san serif,” note white on white logo use considerations)

- Brand slogan (“Snap It, Clap It, Wrap It”, a lawyer-driven update from last year)

Santa enthusiasts and marketing professionals alike are sure to get a chuckle.

All brands are intentionally built. The Santa brand book demonstrates the range of necessary components. In particular, the brand book’s “update” to Santa’s slogan points out something critical:

Brands change.

Is It Time to Update Your Brand?

Your Association’s communications must support your brand message to grow your membership. Is it stale?

Association branding expert Josh Kilen asks you to imagine a member’s response when they get their renewal notice:

Is it “Sure thing, I know this is one investment that’s paying off,” or is it, “Oh, why am I paying for this again?”

How does your Association position membership (or membership renewal) as a benefit and not a cost?

Are you using outdated language or design elements, for example? Canadian company Swystun Communications highlights how brand stories and perceptions are shaped by both. Words and images matter.

“So many of association logos look 1970’s and suggest shag carpet, The Partridge Family, and wide-leg pants,” writes Swystun’s Delores Hennings.

Brands need refreshing to stay relevant in the marketplace. We recently rebranded eBallot’s online voting software as “Decide Anything,” for example, to demonstrate its many uses.

Case Study: Updating the CTIA Brand

CTIA is a Washington, D.C.-based Association representing the wireless industry. They hired the agency DeSantis Breindel for rebranding. The Association started by identifying the challenge:

As wireless transforms every facet of our lives, from connected cars to the Internet of Things, CTIA needed to expand its membership beyond its traditional base of carriers and equipment makers.

Specifically, CTIA had to rebrand to reach smaller, more entrepreneurial communication companies. It had built its membership base on large, established telecoms. It wanted to expand to reach a more numerous, but also more disperse, constituency.

They solved their branding with a new catchphrase, “Everything Wireless”. They updated graphics to reflect its wider and added more contemporary appeal. All communication moving forward included these updated elements.


How to Revamp Your Association's Brand

Surely, like Santa, your Association has core brand values. Define these first. Who do you represent and why? What does the future hold, and why?

Here are some considerations when updating your Association’s branding:

  • How has your membership changed? How is expected to change? (Age, demographics, psychographics, etc.
  • How do you want the membership to change? (Do you want to broaden or narrow your representative role?)
  • How do new brand communication elements support a Digital First philosophy?
  • How will the new branding be communicated? (What channels? A mix of old and new?)

Remember, there are no “naughty and nice” lists when it comes to branding. There are just marketing processes to position your Association more appropriately.

As the Santa brand book says, successful branding:

“begins with the Hiss of Power and Ends with the Ah of Surprise”

Or at the very least, it begins by commissioning a brand agency.



eBallot provides online voting software for Associations.

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