Did you see the article in Associations Now about how an association named ISIS is changing it’s name? It is the International Species Information System and, no doubt, the acronym is no longer working for them.
There are all sorts of reasons for associations to change their name. The association is no longer national but international. The association is consolidating with another association. And yes, because the acronym doesn’t work any longer. Rebranding is a big project and demands some thoughtful planning but with savvy marketing members will eventually get used to the new name.
Members, however, won’t remember the names of virtually any of your other products and services.
We tend to come up with cute names for our online community, our newsletter, tools, and publications. We hope we are building a brand. And perhaps for only the biggest among us that is true. But for most associations our individual products and services just have a name not a brand and 9 times out of 10 our members don’t even remember that name.
With the millions of things they have to remember every day they don’t have the capacity to internalize a handful of the association’s sub-brands.
The more sophisticated the product name the worse their retention is of it. Instead members describe the offering to me. “I read ABC’s magazine” or “I love the daily digest of ABC’s online forum” or “I glance at ABC’s salary survey report when it is published and then pull it out every time I need it”. If you are thinking about naming any new offering aim for descriptive rather than catchy. Remember unless we are talking about the association’s brand, we are naming our products and services not branding our products and services.
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Bonus: The National Automobile Dealers Association had some very big and powerful offerings that each had a different look, different from the association’s overall brand identity. This is not at all uncommon among associations but it does confuse members. They talk about their rebranding efforts in this Associations Now article, efforts to bring each offering back under the umbrella brand look and feel of the association.