How to Strengthen Your Association’s Brand Identity in a Crowded Field

How to Strengthen Your Association’s Brand Identity in a Crowded Field

Your association’s brand is the outward face you show the world. It’s your written and visual message that communicates what you do and why people may want to support you. In a world of increasing noise, though, it can be tough to stand out against the competition. Read on to learn some tips for how to bolster your association or nonprofit’s brand identity so it’s clear who you are and how you are fulfilling your mission.

Make Sure You Have Clearly Defined Your Mission and Ideal Persona

If your association has been around for decades, it’s possible that your original mission may no longer be serving your members as well as it did before. For instance, information that you used to provide for career advancement or certification is now widely available online. Or perhaps people who used to be in their 40s and 50s before they joined are now enrolling in their 20s and 30s.

Your mission does not need to be etched in stone; it’s perfectly fine to change with the times and adapt it to what people need now. Likewise, your persona — an idealized member or person you serve — may need tweaking.

Ask How Your Members See You

A great way to see if your persona has changed is to survey your current membership and prospective members. How do they see your association? Is it an essential part of their career or personal fulfillment? Do they envision themselves as members 10 or 20 years from now?

Other possible questions to ask include:

  • What do they see as your mission (may not be the same as what’s on your website or official documentation)?
  • Why are they members?
  • Are they also members of any rival organizations?
  • Do they feel membership fees are in line with what your association provides?
  • What would they like to get from the association that’s not currently being offered?


Identify Similar Associations in Your Field and Study Them

It’s particularly important if you have other associations in your industry to do a deep dive on the competition and understand where you stand in relation to them. Are they eating your lunch with every membership drive? Do their events draw thousands while yours struggle to reach 500 attendees? A SWOT analysis is helpful here.


  • What makes your association unique?
  • What advantages do you have when it comes to staff, volunteers, and funding?
  • How has your brand succeeded so far?



  • Where do you think your association falls short?
  • Do you feel your brand is inconsistent or unclear?
  • How do you compare to your competition or similar organizations?



  • Where could your association leverage a gap in needs?
  • Do you have the chance to align with another organization that could enhance your ability to perform your mission?
  • Are there trends (economic, legal, etc.) that present an opportunity for growth?



  • Are you facing financial problems?
  • Is your competition doing something you struggle to compete with?
  • Has your brand or reputation taken a hit for some reason?


Merge Your Mission with Your Values and Image

Once you’ve done the analysis and have a handle on where you stand and how you want to improve, it’s time to put it all together. Combine your mission (original or revised) with your organizational values, which should already be pretty closely in sync. The next step is to blend those elements with your visual presence and activities for one cohesive whole.

Your website, print materials, and other visuals need to consistently reflect your brand, which might necessitate involving a graphic designer to give things an upgrade. You want typography, color palette, and other elements to convey your desired message.

For example, if you’re trying to give the impression of tradition and reliability, use a sophisticated font and go for tones of blue and gray. Conversely, if your association is trying to be edgier and attract millennials, you can be a little more experimental with your graphics and have fun with brighter colors, like orange for energy or green for freshness and sustainability.

That same vibe needs to be carried through to your conferences and activities, whichever direction you go in. From your hospitality suites to your trade show booths to your after-hours fun times, your brand must be on point, just like giant businesses with household name familiarity. In fact, if you think of your favorite brands and how they convey their ethos, you can use that as a roadmap for your own success.

When your association needs help planning events or designing a website that lets your unique brand shine through, Jaffe Management is ready to assist. To learn more about how we can put your organization’s authenticity front and center, call us at 212-496-3155, or reach out online.