I was looking at the list of top 100 brands the other day and how they do what they do. Sure, we all know that companies like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Nike, Disney, and Apple have great brands. When we think of them, we’re instantly flooded with the feelings that their marketers have taught us to feel. But these are large companies. And associations and chambers don’t have nearly the budget or resources to put into branding.
So, what can associations learn from these megabrands?
1. Live and breathe your brand. This means every touch point - from your association website to your social media voice. How would your staff describe your association? How would your members describe what you do? If you aren’t sure, ask. And if there’s a disconnect, make sure you start communicating consistently inside and outside your association.
Think about Coca-Cola. Two words I’d use to describe their brand are happiness and nostalgic. And everything they do - from product design to commercials evokes this brand personality.
2. Find the right mix of consistency and innovation. Take McDonald’s for example. The McDonald’s brand relies greatly on customers’ confidence that they can walk into any of their fast food restaurants and a Big Mac is going to be a Big Mac. But, they aren’t afraid to innovate either with new product offerings like McCafe.
Hold true to the history and what your association represents, but don’t be too afraid of trying new things. Maybe it’s a new member resource that a segment of your members have been demanding. Or an online membership directory to share your association database. Or a mobile app because your members want to be communicated with in this way. Just make sure the brand messaging is consistent and true to your association.
3. Be the best. Be the leader in your association’s industry by acting like it. Does Nike make the best shoe out there? Is it better than the generic tennis shoe they sell at Wal-Mart? I’m not sure. But Nike positions themselves as the best and the leader in their industry, therefore they are. Be your industry's best resource for information.
4. Provide value. Your members renew each year because of the value your association provides. What value-added resources could your association be providing? Your association website is a great place to quickly add resources if you have an effective membership management software.
When it comes to value, take Disney for example. They certainly don’t provide the cheapest family experience. But families see extreme value in what they are able to provide.
5. Engage. Apple can teach us a lot about engagement. I believe they communicate and engage with their customers like no other brand. How do they get consumers to be so loyal? They communicate often and they communicate well.
Wouldn't you love for your members to hang on your every word like they do for Apple? How are you engaging them? Are you communicating who you are as an association and where you're going? Are you using the right means of communication? Make sure you're not only staying on top of trends, but setting the trends. If your members aren't engaged, make sure you're giving them a reason to be, with new and exciting events, educational opportunities, and resources.
What lessons can your association take away from these megabrands?