The Center for Association Resources


Is an association management firm focused on helping Non-Profit associations succeed in their mission.

Branding steps for Not-for-profit organizations

Another in a series of articles related to association management selected from our reading list by:
Robert O. Patterson, JD
CEO/ Principal
The Center for Association Resources, Inc.

Branding steps for Not-for-profit organizations

The association market is becoming more competitive, and members more demanding. Not-for profit organizations must work harder to secure the fundamental relationships that fuel their stability and growth. Building distinctive relationships between your organization, its members and potential members, is what branding is about.

We are often asked what makes the difference between an organization with an average brand and one with a distinctive/successful brand? Our answer is always the same…it’s the leaders, volunteers, staff and members who actively and enthusiastically engage in living and experiencing the unique brand promise day in and day out that makes the difference. An organization with an average brand becomes an organization with a great brand by living its values; that is the key ingredient for world-class association performance.

Aligning your organization, operations and culture around your brand values brings the promise to life and creates a deeper, stronger relationship with members, and increases prospective member interest.

A brand stands for the relationship that an organization has with its volunteers and staff, as much as it represents the relationship that it has with its members and prospective members through its product and service offering. For a brand to come to life, the organization must be internally aligned to deliver the brand promise through the organization’s culture, reward systems, key success activities and structure. In other words, the organization must ‘live’ the brand values in its day-to-day interactions. And its leaders must demonstrate their commitment to these values through behavior as well as communications and activities, demonstrating sincerity–not just rhetoric.

The most successful organizations demonstrate their commitment to their brand values in various ways including:

  • Effectively using communications to raise awareness and demonstrate its shared beliefs and vision reinforcing member focus

  • Giving volunteers and staff a deeper understanding of the brand promise and the behaviors and values the promise demands

  • Enabling all volunteers and staff to understand how their own work processes and responsibilities contribute to delivering the brand promise to members and prospective members

  • Changing and improving products and services to be in line with its brand promise and member needs

Areas of Opportunity for Not-for-Profit Organizations

The Center for Association Resources works to identify opportunities to align and enhance the organizations’s brand by studying industry trends, and its members. It is highly desirable that the brand be expressed in ways that optimize the potential of the organization and its members. Our discovery activities will include an evaluation of the existing brand to ascertain its equity and, if necessary, we will explore alternate naming possibilities. This realignment will also help to broaden offerings to the defined targets more effectively and efficiently. Specifically, we determine ways in which organizations can strengthen their relationships by supporting the marketing activities of their members.

Following is a summary of the process that we recommend in order to understand where and how a specific organization is perceived in the marketplace, what that means in terms of opportunities and how to make the most of those opportunities by creating a powerful brand.

We continue to work closely with organizations to leverage our branding process and insight in order to strategically position your organization, its core competencies, values and offerings. In short, our goal is to differentiate your organization and its offerings, and to ensure the delivery of a consistent branded experience. The Center for Association Resources puts into practice these same principles of responsiveness and offers a level of receptiveness to client concerns and market issues unusual to other full-service branding firms. As marketing and communications experts, we recognize the importance of developing messaging from the outside in as well as the inside out, and all of our processes support this strategic positioning.

Methodology Overview

Our brand development and integration methodology consists of three phases:

  • Phase 1, forms the assessment phase of analysis to establish the baseline level of required brand value from internal and external viewpoints and to determine segmentation opportunities and receptivity. With a baseline established, brand strategy development leads to recommendations that support an organization’s specific goals designed to humanize and differentiate the organization, examine its offerings and to focus implementation activities in the expression of the newly aligned brand for each service-centric opportunity within each segment (prospects, members and member’s practices).

  • Phase 2, the implementation phase, typically includes tactics such as integrated communications programs, and member and sponsor development programs, advertising and marketing campaigns, promotions, process and technology recommendations and enhancements, and behavior change programs designed to establish a branded experience across all segments.

  • Phase 3, creates strategies and programs for the maintenance of the brand over time, and measures the effectiveness of the branded experience against the baselines established during brand evaluation. By reapplying the brand valuation benchmarking technique, return on investment (ROI) and the importance of branding throughout the organization, within each offering, and within each defined segment can be evaluated and demonstrated quantitatively.

Filed under: Association Resources, Center for Association Resources, Fund Raising, Marketing, Non-Profit, Planning, Strategic Planning, Strategy, The Center for Assocation Resources info, , , , ,

September 2012