Driven by the support of 40 member societies, the first-of-its-kind fraternal branding initiative was approved by the Alliance’s Board of Directors last week. Maddock-Douglas, the branding consultant retained by the Alliance to complete this project, will begin work on the first of the three components of the program will begin this week. The final work products will be delivered to Alliance members by the end of the year.
To refresh your memory, the branding initiative began in 2015 when the Alliance funded initial research and creative design work that demonstrated:
- The vast majority of consumers had virtually no awareness of fraternals and their role in the financial services and community services arenas;
- With only a small amount of information, consumers – from millennials to boomers – were intrigued, impressed, and interested enough in the fraternal model to consider purchasing financial services products from a society; and
- Fraterals shared enough common characteristics to make it possible to create one set of materials that each society could use to create a relevant brand for its organization.
Armed with that information, Maddock-Douglas developed a three-part branding initiative that was presented to member society CEOs at the 2016 Executive Summit and to a broad cross-section of members at the 2016 Annual Meeting. The three segments of the program are:
- Brand Strategy is the guide that provides instructions to best convey the fraternal benefit society message to the public. It will cover all aspects of messaging that must be considered for the greatest impact, including specific words, phrases, and tone of the message, and will be based on new research that will demonstrate which message configurations resonate most and why.
- Campaign Creative is applying the language and messaging from above to create communications that can be used for real advertisements. That means adding visuals and creating copy to deliver the intended message within an overall idea that is used consistently across all communications. It will be applied in a variety of forms including print ads, radio script, web banners, and social media.
Type of communication vehicle to be created.
- Target Market Identification is about describing and finding the people that are the most likely to respond favorably to the fraternal message. Knowing who those people are is critical for the development of an efficient marketing program. The target will be described in terms of the attitudes and behaviors that contribute to their positive response, with any common demographics between them identified.
Based on the support expressed for the program by member societies, in December 2016, the Alliance Board of Directors agreed to move forward with the program if it was fully funded by the membership. The Board stipulated that no Alliance dues dollars or surplus funds – which are used primarily to provide the state and federal advocacy services members value most – be used for this project.
Forty Alliance member societies backed up their commitment with a check for $9,500 and on March 20 the Board approved the project.
This project demonstrates the power of collective action by fraternals. Only a handful of Alliance members could have afforded the nearly $400,000 price tag of this branding initiative. But by pooling resources and sharing the cost, even the Alliance’s smallest societies can afford to purchase this incredibly valuable marketing data. Makes you wonder what else member societies could accomplish if the joined forces to tackle tough problems like compliance, reinsurance, IT platforms, and product development. Hmmm…
Nonetheless, it is important to realize that accessing the branding initiative materials and actually being able to use them are two different things. As one member told me, “it doesn’t do much good to paint the house if the foundation is crumbling.”
Amen. The branding initiative is not a panacea. It won’t magically increase sales, enhance your community service activities, or give your society the brand recognition of Coke. If you don’t have the financial resources, the governance structure, and the management skills to put this information to use, then it’s just another electronic file taking up space on your hard drive.
But if you do have the ability and desire to put these tools to use – or to join hands with other societies and use them collectively (there’s that word again…) well, the sky’s the limit.
So, hats off to those 40 societies who invested in this program. They’ll reap the rewards of that investment later this year – and, hopefully, for many more years to come.
And for those of you who did not initially participate, there is still time to send us your check for $9,500 and ensure that your society doesn’t get left behind.
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