We are working with a large association client to help redefine their brand. The goal at the end of the day is to have an understanding of how to connect with their members and prospects (and others) on an emotional level. The rational side of the equation—meaning the more traditional reasons to belong—are in place and agreed upon. These are things like education, certification, networking, and advocacy. These are also member benefits that can conceivably be gotten through other means—networking can happen through growing social networking avenues, education is offered by many other (some competing) organizations and associations, etc.

So as we are in the process of identifying, clarifying and verbalizing the true member value statements for the organization, an interesting question was raised:

Are we only identifying member benefits that are currently supported by products and services, or can we be aspirational and create a framework of ideal member value propositions that the organization will NEED to support in order to remain viable?

This concept generated a nice discussion about the idea of brand being a true reflection of the organization. Meaning if they want to begin promoting these aspirational values, they would need to be operationalizing them—developing programs, processes, attitudes, services, etc. that support them. Otherwise it will backfire. The rebrand will be seen as a bunch of marketing-speak and membership will tune out. Our view is that a rebrand of this nature—one that is oriented to determining what will keep the association viewed as a desired choice—may well require an aspirational change to both the messaging and the organization. In this case: Live the brand as the brand needs to be.

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