June 10, 2013
Although you may not think about it on a daily basis, your organization’s name is the most important aspect of your brand. But when is the last time you really thought about what it meant and what it represented – to your members, to your customers, to the media?
A few years ago, Kellen Company client, the Messenger Courier Association of America (MCAA), started to really think about their struggle with their name – a name that had served them well for nearly 25 years! But they couldn’t avoid the truth – the industry was changing, and they were no longer simply “the guys on bikes” that big-city dwellers knew. The majority of the MCAA membership was involved in much larger aspects of the supply chain, including medical delivery (blood, organs, pharmaceuticals), logistical support, distribution, warehousing and inventory management. And the name just didn’t fit!
So the MCAA Board of Directors set out to learn what name did fit their businesses, their industry and their membership. They hired an outside market research firm to talk to their customers and their potential customers, and as a result, learned important information on what their customers thought – what was positive about their industry, what could be improved upon, and most importantly, what made them stand out. The overwhelming answer was their ability to customize each delivery, so over the next few months, the Board discussed their options and, in January 2013, voted unanimously on their new name – the Customized Logistics and Delivery Association (CLDA). Over the next three months, staff and Board worked to prepare for the announcement of the new name to the membership at the Annual Convention.
So, what do you need to keep in mind when considering changing your organization’s brand?
- Do your research. CLDA’s Board didn’t decide to change the name on a whim. This decision required lots of legwork, lots of consideration, and yes, some money invested in the research process (but it was worth it!)
- Make sure your organization’s leaders are on board. In addition to a unanimous Board vote, CLDA took the time to reach out to the past Presidents of MCAA to inform them before it was announced to the membership. This was key to making a seamless transition.
- Be prepared to invest time and energy into the change. Even after the *big* decision (your new name!), there’s a lot to do! There’s the obvious: your bank account, notifying the IRS, alerting your vendors to change it in their system. But there’s also the not so obvious: your staff signature lines, any contracts, email templates, business registrations and lobbying disclosures, any ads that may be running in publications. It’s a long list, but don’t be overwhelmed – start with the big pieces (your website) and get the little pieces as you encounter them.
- It doesn’t end with a new name. Don’t forget to keep the momentum going after the big announcement. Your new name should be part of a broader re-branding effort. Get your story out to the media, place ads in industry publications, and reach out to prospective members with the new information. The time and money invested here will pay off for your organization!