Does Your Brand Have the Impact
You Need To Win New Members?

By Carol Smith and Jeannette Paladino

Click image to enlargeJeannette Paladino (left), Founder of Write Speak Sell, and Carol Smith, President and Creative Director of Creative Source, spoke at NYSAE’s January Marketing and Communications Institute on Branding: From Message Development to Visual Represenation.Jeannette Paladino (left), Founder of Write Speak Sell, and Carol Smith, President and Creative Director of Creative Source, spoke at NYSAE’s January Marketing and Communications Institute on Branding: From Message Development to Visual Represenation.

Today, there are an ever-increasing number of associations and nonprofits competing for your member or donor prospect’s attention. A strong brand, however, can enhance your ability to attract and retain them.

To many brands in the marketplace are simply knock-offs of other brands. If you wish you stand out, you need to be unique. You have to be clear about who your organization is, what makes it special, and why prospective members or donors should care.

What is your brand? A brand is what an organizations wishes to be known for. It is a pro-active strategic process to establish the direction, leadership, clarity of purpose, and inspiration for the organization’s mission.

Simply put, your brand is your promise to your consumer—whether it’s a member, donor, business, buyer, or voter—that will inspire them to choose your offerings over a competitor.

What is your visual brand? Your visual brand is the visual expression of the organization’s name, logo, and tagline. It is the image your association projects in your marketing materials, social media communications, and advertising.

Top 10 Branding Tips
1. Define your brand promise. Determine what it is about your association/nonprofit and your offerings that distinguishes you. This is the tough part. Anybody can say they offer "quality" services, networking, and/or products. Be specific. Define your unique selling proposition (USP).

2. Assess the competition. Even associations and nonprofits have competitors for potential members or donor prospects. Research how your competitors are branding themselves. Make sure that yours is truly distinctive.

3. Determine your target audience. Now that you understand what makes your organization unique, research who your member and donor prospects are. What need is your brand fulfilling?

4. Develop key messages. What are the key messages you want to communicate about your brand? Do a keyword search of the web to learn how people are searching for the services and products that you offer.

5. Define your visual brand. This isn’t the time for a do-it-yourself solution. Work with a graphic designer or design firm to translate your USP into a visual brand that communicates your essence.

6. Create a great campaign. Partner with your designer and communications staff or consultant in the creation of an integrated marketing campaign to reach across print, broadcast/cable, the web, and social media to reach your prospect audience.

7. Be consistent. Apply your visual brand to your letterhead and business cards, as well as to your website, your promotional materials, and your products or services. Once you adapt your visual brand, don’t use anything that is outdated; discard your old brochures and other marketing materials.

8. Be bold. We live in a visual age. Wishy-washy and bland aren’t going to cut it if you want your association/nonprofit to break through all the clutter. Trying to attract more millennials? They were brought up on YouTube videos, social networks like Pintrest, and in-your-face television advertising. Your organization needs to stand out.

9. Execute an ongoing promotional plan. Start by notifying your members or donors that your brand has been updated to reflect the exciting new developments in your association/nonprofit, which are going to offer them even more benefits. Make them part of the process.

10. Be patient. Every great campaign needs to build over time for maximum effectiveness.

Is It Time To Refresh Your Brand?
As yourself these questions:

  • Is our brand promise still valid?
  • Is our association’s image starting to feel dated?
  • Does it convince our members/donors they are involved in the best organization for their needs?
  • Does it appeal to the demographics of our prospects?
  • Does it enhance our ability to win new members?

When was the last time you updated the image of your association?

Carol Smith and Jeannette Paladino spoke on Branding: From Message Development to Visual Representation at NYSAE’s January Marketing & Communications Institute.

Carol Smith is President and Creative Director of Creative Source, providing branding and marketing communication services. She can be reached through her website at or

Jeannette Paladino is Founder of Write Speak Sell, helping organizations leverage their social media to burnish their brands. She can be reached through her website at or