Sunday, March 11, 2012

How Do Prospects/Members/Donors Know it is You? Thoughts on Branding.

I’m not a branding and/or color expert but I try to be observant of my surroundings.

The other day, I saw a photo (visual) in the newspaper and knew immediately it was Larry the Cable Guy. Crazy but why do I remember this guy? The sleeveless (and usually plaid) shirt.

It’s not unlike the power of Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s link with pink (especially pink ribbons).

Look at the examples above from my world:

Notice: none of these are official logos.

It made me think about the power of image and color in branding and our speed of recognition. And, realize that few trade associations or professional societies take advantage of this powerful visual connection to our “brands.” Yes, we keep our logos consistent (right?!) ... but there is so much more we can do to benefit from the power of visual and color.

As I was halfway through writing this post, I read a blog from Jeff Hurt on Why Visuals Are So important.  This is an important read for association management professionals and meeting planners. Some quick/key take-aways from this blog:
• 75% of our learning comes from our vision.
• The more visual the input, the more likely it is to be recognized and recalled.
• Vision trumps all other senses.
• We remember images. We forget words.

This week, the Fort Myers/Cape Coral News-Press published a story on the power of the ad car dealership owner Billy Fuccillo's slogan "It's Huuuge-a."  Here's a great quote from the story:   “It’s huge” adheres to the rules of a solid slogan: consistent, simple and catchy, marketing experts said. It also helps that Fuccillo is not some milquetoast character, said Ann Hughes, president of Hughes McGrath Marketing and Public Relations in Naples. 

Back to my thinking about image, color and brand identity.
So, what is your association’s color and/or distinct brand visual? Is it consistent, simple and catchy? What is the one thing that those in your profession or industry instantly think of your association or nonprofit? Have you developed a strategy for your organization? Or, does a designer decide what looks good on the next piece?

Let’s look at how Joe Pulizzi used orange in identifying himself and the Content Marketing World Conference in 2011. I knew Joe Pulizzi and the Content Marketing Institute’s brand of orange a year or so before I attended CMI’s 2011 Content Marketing World conference last September.

What impressed me was the strong use of orange throughout the conference.

    • Pre-conference materials & website
    • Onsite - registration table ... and staff (in orange shirts!)
    • Onsite - staging/draping was orange. Even food tables carried out the theme!
    • Onsite - candies. Yes, even the mints were orange and white rather than red or green and white!
    • Onsite - Joe wasn’t the only one dressed in orange. Several speakers jumped on the orange clothes bandwagon!
    • Onsite - tote bag (I guarantee you that if I saw one of these orange tote bags anywhere in the world, I would immediately know it was someone from CMW11.
    Orange = hokey? Maybe to some but clearly carried out the brand identity of Joe, CMI and CMW. A powerful, lasting visual that we all experienced.

    So, what should your association do? Do you have a brand identity like the Content Marketing Institute and the Content Marketing World Conference? If so, please share your examples in the comments section.

    If you have more than one major event/meeting/conference a year, what about having a different color for each? That way, your members (and prospects) would immediately know which event is which ... without words.

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