If your chamber brand is feeling stale, it might be time for a rebrand. But before you go off and get lost in color and font choices, let’s get a few things straight. Hammering down these considerations will contribute to creating a solid brand from the beginning with fewer redos and a better outcome.
15 Things to Consider Before Your Chamber Rebrand
Undergoing a rebrand for a Chamber of Commerce is a significant undertaking that requires careful consideration and planning. A successful rebrand can help enhance the organization’s image, strengthen its impact, and attract a broader audience. While no major roll-out will be flawless, considering these things in advance will help you achieve your goals for the new branding efforts.
Here are some important factors to consider before embarking on a chamber rebranding process:
Purpose and Goals
Define clear reasons for the rebrand. Is it to modernize your look, attract new members, or reflect a change in direction (such as a new market/business membership)? Having well-defined goals will guide the entire process and should be something you focus on long before picking out colors.
Involve key stakeholders, including current members, board members, employees, and the local business community. Their insights and perspectives are valuable in shaping the rebranding strategy.
Conduct market research to understand your target audience (new and existing), competitors (this includes the competition “not joining anything”), industry trends (what do members want that they can’t easily do for themselves?), and the perception of your current brand (are your perceived as something unappealing to current interests like a “cliquey business owner’s group”?). This will help you identify gaps and opportunities for the chamber rebrand.
Messaging and Positioning
Craft a clear and compelling brand message that resonates with your target audience. Define your unique value proposition and how your Chamber of Commerce stands out from other business groups in your area or doing nothing at all. Remember, your member businesses are not doing you a favor by joining. They are not supporting you like a child who refuses to move out of their parents’ basement. They are investing in their business and getting value from doing so. Chamber membership means they now have a partner in their success and they are on their way to accomplishing their business goals with you. Don’t underestimate the impact you can have on a business and the business community. Communicate this in all of your chamber messaging.
Ensure consistency across all touchpoints, both online and offline. This includes your website, social media, printed materials, events, and any other communication channels. Your brand is a promise of who you are. It ties the feelings/emotions behind the chamber’s reputation to a visual component. People will attach those emotions to your brand and develop expectations from it. When there’s a disconnect between their expectations and what they’re receiving from you, it will disrupt their experience and the relationship. For instance, think of a top luxury brand, one that is out of reach for most of the population. Think about their branding, their tone, and their content. They’re not speaking to everyone, just a select few. Now imagine going to this brand’s website and instead of a luxurious feel, it was flashing with neon image quotes screaming “Half off!!!!” You would experience a disconnect and double-check the URL. You’d wonder what happened to the luxury brand. Avoid this type of disconnect between what potential members expect and what you’re providing.
Budget and Resources
Determine the budget and resources required for the rebranding process. This includes design and marketing expenses, as well as any costs associated with updating physical materials. Start listing all the spots where you will need to change your branding. You might be surprised how many areas/software use your logo and colors.
Develop a realistic timeline for the rebranding process, taking into account the various stages such as research, design, development, and launch. Rushing the process could lead to suboptimal results.
Plan how the transition from the old brand to the new brand will be managed. This includes updating all materials, notifying stakeholders, and ensuring a smooth rollout.
It’s also important to note that it’s easy to switch from one color group to another but much more difficult if your rebranding includes changing your reputation and becoming known for something you’re not currently known for. Imagine Taco Bell wanting to become known for burgers or Chick-fil-A for lobster rolls. If you’re undertaking a large shift as part of your chamber rebrand, you’re going to have to create a transition plan to help people see you in a new way. You’ll need a more gradual approach if you want to go from a reputation as a “hometown fair organizer” type of chamber to an “economic development powerhouse leading innovative technology strategies.”
Develop a comprehensive communication plan for announcing the rebrand to your target audience(s). Include a mix of digital and traditional channels to generate excitement and interest. Create an unveiling or countdown to get your audience interested in the change. You can even give some behind-the-scenes info about what has gone into your rebranding. This could inspire someone in your community who’s considering the same.
Ensure all employees and stakeholders understand and embrace the new brand. Training and clear communication about the reasons behind the rebrand can help with internal alignment. If your rebranding involves a new tone, make sure everyone understands how it will flavor all communications going forward. Ensure everyone who needs it has a branding kit for you including new colors, fonts, tone, etc.
Consider the longevity of the new chamber brand. Will it still be relevant and effective in the years to come? Avoid trendy elements that might quickly become outdated.
Target Audience Appeal and Imitation
If you work with a designer, they will likely bring it up but it’s important to consider your audience/demographic when branding. Many years ago I worked at a company with a very young creative director. They found a cool font and fell in love with it. She managed to talk the higher powers into using it as the main header font for the website. The only problem was that it was difficult for “older eyes,” which unfortunately was our target market. Conversely, selecting a cursive font wouldn’t be a good choice for an organization targeting an audience who never learned cursive in school. When you’re thinking about how your new brand will weather the future, consider how it will appeal to your target as well.
Another consideration (especially if you live in a small town) is what other well-known entities use. You don’t want to be mistaken for your city or your largest employer, for instance. You want to stand out, not confuse people. Stay away from similar color combinations, fonts, logos, etc. Speaking of…
Legal and Trademarks
Check for any potential legal issues or trademark conflicts related to the new brand name, logo, slogan, tagline, or other elements. Many people think “similar” is safe as long as it’s not exact. While that may be true from a legal sense, you don’t want to be confused with someone else, even if you collaborate with them. For instance, if your city’s tagline is Cityville–the destination of your dreams, don’t use Chamber X–we make dreams come true. They’re just too close.
Measurement and Evaluation
Establish metrics to measure the success of the chamber rebranding efforts, such as increased membership, improved engagement, or enhanced public perception. Note the brand’s effects on social media, correspondence open rates, website traffic, merch sales, and anything else that shows your new branding.
Remember, a rebranding process requires collaboration, creativity, and strategic thinking. It’s important to invest time and effort in planning to ensure that the new brand accurately represents the values and aspirations of your chamber of commerce and the community you serve.