Rebranding your chamber? We’re only into the second quarter of 2019, but have you looked at your website recently? What about your logo? What are they saying about you?
Just as it’s possible to look dated if you’re still wearing your hair in a pompadour or “The Farah” (hey, those styles could come back), the look and tone of your branding can be giving off the impression that your chamber isn’t as serious about innovation and growth as you might want everyone to believe.
A bad brand, or the perception of one, can sabotage all of your hard work, particularly for people who are experiencing you for the first time over the internet or on your website.
But how do you know if your brand works in 2019 and what is an effective chamber brand?
We’ll cover these things as well as a few tips for rebranding. Are you ready?
How Do You Know a Bad Brand from a Good One?
First, let’s speak purely about looks because that is the easiest to switch out.
A modern brand website:
- is clean and airy. It doesn’t look cluttered. The site has plenty of white space.
- has a limited number of main focus colors. You’re not creating a rainbow. You want people to look at a color (or two) and think of you.
- has a memorable logo that is easily recognizable.
- has a legible font. A lot of creative agencies use quirky fonts because they impart an immediate feeling or emotion. Don’t be tempted to do this. While fonts can be fun, they can also be difficult to read or quickly become tiresome. If you want to use a jazzy font, use it as an accent or in a rotator, not as something that is essential to your site.
- doesn’t use a lot of stock images that are on thousands of other sites. This makes your brand look dated. Instead, either use less well-known stock images or take your own pics. Why wouldn’t you want to use images of your beautiful community and your talented staff?
- doesn’t use tired marketing speak. “Synergy” is so 2000 (which I have to remind myself was a long time ago). Speak in the language your community uses. Be conversational in your writing on your blog or pick a tone that conveys who it is you want to be. Today’s business voice is different than it was just a decade ago. You want your voice to be heard by your ideal members. When they read your content they should identify with it.
- is targeted on what the audience wants. The average person has a short attention span or at least cannot invest a lot of time on your site, so give them what they want quickly. A modern brand understands why people seek them out and they give them solutions boldly visible.
So if you think it’s time for a rebrand, what do you do?
Examples of Effective Chamber Brands
So maybe this all sounds good but you want to see it in practice. Take a look at these examples:
What they do well:
- Modern design, rotators that speak to very important aspects of the chamber including the award-winning work they’re doing, economic development, and a join button.
- Organized content that is easy to navigate. Note the content boxes to help visitors find their interest quickly.
- Member videos displayed prominently on the front page.
- (Check out this interview with their exec on this process.)
What they do well:
- They use captivating images followed by information on what they do and who they serve.
- Events featured prominently so that they are easy to scan.
- An inviting letter from the President on the front page.
What you could emulate:
- strong rotating images that market important aspects of what they do including their podcast.
- they often use the word “you” and “your” talking directly to potential members and business people. The focus is on what members can get from the chamber, not what the chamber does. It’s a subtle difference but an important one when it comes to making a purchasing decision. People are more apt to invest if they know what you can do for their business, not just what you do generically.
- they give front-page space for their blog as well. So many chambers hide it in a resources tab. This makes it easy to find and enjoy.
Tips on Chamber Rebranding
Use Someone Local
While this seems like a no-brainer for all chamber business, using a local designer, marketer, or ad agency to help you turn your ideas into a new logo or brand can help you create something you love quickly. Because that person is from your community there’s no need to explain who you are and what you do.
However, sometimes picking a local person can get very political. Should you select from member businesses or go with a referral? Will other design firms feel alienated by the selection? The simplest way to go with someone local may be to hold a “tryout” of sorts. The Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau hosted a contest to select a new design and awarded a cash prize to the person who created the winning logo.
Play up What Makes You Special
A good logo design follows design rules for business but a great chamber logo design pays homage to your area as well. The Monona East Side Business Alliance‘s Kirstie Shilling shared the creative brief behind their chamber logo redesign:
“This eastward pointing arrow demonstrates our mission to propel the Monona East Side community forward. The triangles represent our members coming together to achieve our mission. The repetition of triangles is commonly used in Native American art and is a nod to the rich Native American history of our area.”
Be True to Your Beginnings
Some rebranding is done not because the logo needs to be updated but because a merger has taken place. When this happens it’s necessary to incorporate both chambers’ histories/legacies in some way. Here’s how the Mason Deerfield Chamber created their new logo. Sherry Taylor shared, “We took on a unified approach to brand and represent two strong communities to enhance economic development efforts through cooperative branding. The blue is from the city of Mason’s logo. The green is from Deerfield Township’s logo. The orange is the new color of the Chamber showing boldness, creativity, and movement.”
Always Keep Your Content Up-to-Date
It may be a pain but never leave old events on your “upcoming events” calendar or taking up prime real estate on your website. It’s a fun idea to include pictures of the event and references but make sure it never looks like the event is still to come. With today’s websites, it’s easy to make changes with no coding experience so there’s no reason not to remove the references immediately. Otherwise, it looks like you just don’t have anything going on.
Check Your Logo
How does your logo look? Is it modern and professional or does it look like a pair of out-of-date mom jeans? Little things like that mean a lot, especially to people who don’t know you very well. If you’re not sure, consult a professional. Design trends change constantly so if you need a little assurance that your logo still looks good, ask a designer.
Create Content Your Community Loves
Creating content takes way too long to spend that time doing things that don’t resonate with your audience. Watch what they respond to and do more of it.
Finally, the rebranding launch is also really important. If you take the time to rebrand, you want to call your community’s attention to your efforts. A rebranding should always have a goal. Whether it’s freshening up your look to go with new services or an organizational reorg, tell them why you did it and show them how you’ve changed.
Sometimes a full rebrand isn’t necessary. Occasionally, it’s a name that’s getting in your way of success.
Rebranding Your Events: Sometimes It Just Takes a Title
Titles Set the Stage
The event name will help convey the general tone. This is easy to see in the difference between these made-up events:
Krazy Kutztown Hoedown The Greenville Gala
Which one do you think you’ll be wearing your wranglers to? This is extremely important in events like golf tournaments. Is your tournie a very serious golfing event or more of an excuse to get outside mid-day with a beverage in hand? The name you choose will give people an idea of whether their skills, or interests, suit the event.
Titles Invite the Guests
For better or worse, the title you choose can also make a member feel like that’s for me or I don’t need to attend that. This is particularly true when you name an event “New Member Lunch.” At first glance it’s an appealing title if you want to invite new members and review their benefits with them.
But the title will keep others (existing members and prospects) away. Would an existing member benefit from knowing what the chamber offerings are? Probably. Would you like a prospect to attend so they can see all of the wonderful benefits of membership? Possibly. Is there a more fitting title that explains the purpose of the lunch without alienating others? Yes.
Titles Can Make the Guests Feel Special
If you’ve ever gone into a high-end store, hotel, or car dealership, you know there’s an extraordinary level of customer service at work. You just feel special there. You can do the same thing with the title of your event, particularly if it’s a thank you gathering or meant to honor members.
The Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce decided against using “New Member” lunch and went with VIP luncheon, an invitation-only event. The chamber invited only new members and recently renewed members. They built an exclusivity into the title and the event has been full to capacity for the past two months.
Rebranding needn’t be done just for fun. You should have a goal behind it. However, if it’s been a while since your last rebranding, you may want to look over your website, logo, and branding with a critical eye. Is it still serving the needs of your community? Is it clear what you do and who you do it for? Is your website crowded and is