Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Are You Using Identity as Association Marketing Strategy

Sitting in the airport last Saturday, I noticed a huge number of people wearing logoed clothing that identified themselves with their team, cause, city, company. Rather than a team or cause, some were unpaid walking billboards for “cool” apparel companies.

In 35 minutes, I saw hats, t-shirts, jackets and bags promoting:

  • STL Cardinals
  • SF Giants
  • Ohio State
  • Mizzou
  • Miami (Ohio)
  • Maryville
  • Houston
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Cincinnati Bearcats
  • Ole Miss
  • USAF
  • P38 Lightning
  • Volcom
  • Ernst & Young
  • Swiss Army
  • Nautica
  • The Black Dog
  • Pink
  • North Face
  • Nike
  • Under Armour
Years ago, the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) published a document called Community as Strategy: 10 Fundamentals. It identified five core businesses within the fundamentals. ASAE labeled one as The Identity Business ... which stated “Symbols make community visible” and included logos, design, where we meet, honors, etc.
The report was focused on creating identity within your association community.

But, all those shirts in the airport made me think identity can extend beyond the internal community.

How can we as association executives get our members (and others) to wear our stuff? How do we engage them to "affiliate" and "promote" our brand or cause?

Think about it?

If you don't have a "cool" name or acronym, what might you do to create a theme, message or design that your members, prospects, friends view as "cool enough" to buy and wear around town or around the country?
This could advance your mission, cause, industry or profession.
What's it worth to get others to promote your brand?


  1. Interesting concept -- building an identity outside of our "universe." Given the constraint on resources that most associations face, outward facing brand-building would have to be a key organizational goal (and have major board support) to warrant investment.

  2. Thanks Lori,

    You're correct that overall strategy and resources matter. Identity is both an internal and external strategy that works for some but not others.

    BTW: I was a CASE member/speaker way back when it became CASE!