Your members have options.
Your members have four options. They can 1) use your service to get what they need, 2) get their services elsewhere, 3) do it themselves, or 4) do nothing at all. What will it take to get them to choose you?
Your brand is a commitment you make that helps strengthen the relationship with your most important customers. Your organization sets an expectation that builds trust. Trust that your brand will deliver on those expectations every interaction, with every person, every time.
A brand is a promise for the long term.
When an organization commits to the promise “We Try Harder” (Avis) or “We’re In It For You” (Oklahoma City Metropolitan Association of REALTORS®), staff and leadership are equally responsible to deliver on that promise.
– When leadership makes decisions, asking “Is it in line with our brand?” shows a commitment to the brand and to connecting with members over time.
– Leaders and staff self-police the brand; when a colleague is doing it right, celebrate the behavior and say something.
This creates a very healthy and united culture.
Branding doesn’t stop with new leaders or staff. Effective brand building requires trust and consistency, year after year. You earn your brand by continuing to deliver on it over time.
Linking your brand to your brand’s symbol – your logo.
The definition of “brand” comes from cattle ranchers who keep their livestock separate from others by “branding,” burning a unique mark on the haunches of their livestock. In marketing, a brand is a distinctive set of characteristics that differentiates a product, service, person, or place. It’s not about making a mark (symbol); it’s about making a mark (impression) – on your members. The European Brands Association proposes that a brand is a relationship because “trust and loyalty are earned over time.”
Good customer service is not a brand (unless you are Zappos or Nordstrom).
Customer service is a basis for running a good business. But is it possible to call it a true point of differentiation? You must work very hard to discover a promise your members will consider invaluable and one that gets their attention.
Brand expert Warren McKenna says, “You brand yourself through your people, your places, and your things.”
Branded People – Consider your staff, volunteers, committee members and directors “agents of your brand.” From the mailroom to the boardroom, your constituents can be a strategic force for delivering on the promise.
Branded Places – Build your events on a philosophy of “anticipate, experience, and remember.” Every place you are in front of members – at a conference, training event, welcoming new members – you have the opportunity to build on your brand and show your promise.
Branded Things – Membership materials, your website, brochures, newsletters…all are touch points to your brand. If your newsletter is all about the association and not about answering member needs, you are likely behaving in a way that doesn’t support your brand. It’s essential to build a two-way dialogue with your members. You do that by remembering your promise – even in a simple e-communication – to build on your brand.
What’s involved in creating your brand?
Your brand is the promise of the way you will do business. A brand is useless if it doesn’t help you connect to the uninvolved member. For your brand to be relevant, define your ideal relationship with your members.
Apple’s brand is three simple words: Innovation, Reliability and Simplicity. These three characteristics ground everything they do. Their promise permeates the boardroom to the help desk.
Your brand is equal parts your Mission, your Values and what you know about your members that is vital to a strong relationship. Get this formula right and you’ll create a brand you can rely on for a very long time.
Do you have to sell your brand?
Your brand isn’t a promotion. It’s an internal commitment. Your mission declares your purpose, and your brand declares your promise. It’s your value proposition that delivers a rationale for why a member should choose your brand, someone else’s, or none at all.
Learn more about value propositions at www.MemberValue.org.