About the Author

Who is Robyn
Robyn Braley is committed to helping Rotarians grow their clubs to become better equipped to help people who need help. He has led two club teams that were awarded RI PR Awards and served as the District 5360 PR Chair. He has been a Rotarian since 1999.

Rotary Speaker
Robyn draws from his experience as a Rotarian and as a Communications Professional to share ways to more effectively tell the Rotary story to your community. He starts by asking the questions, "Is your club ready to grow, and why does it matter?" The ultimate focus is on attracting new members.

He is available to speak at District Conferences and Rotary leadership training institutes. Content also applies to other not-for-profit organizations.

Free Content for #Rotary and NFP Use
Please use any posts for Rotary District or club Newsletters. Include the profile at the bottom of each article, Robyn's headshot and a link to this blogsite. Let him know and he'll promote it to his social media followers.

Contact him at robyn@unimarkcreative.com

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

How Do I Explain My Rotary Clubs' Brand?

A brand is more than just a logo. It reflects your soul!
Written by Robyn T Braley

Rotary is all about doing. And, it’s the doing that gives us meaning.

Branding is living out an inner meaning in a way that breathes life into an organization. It provides outward evidence of an internal belief system. 

So, how do you define your clubs' brand in a way that's easy to understand? In short, a brand is what others think it is. This is how I explain it in my seminars.

“A brand reflects the soul of an organization. It communicates vision, values and principles. Brands work from the inside out to connect with customers at an emotional level.”
Our Rotary motto is, “Service above Self.” That implies action; doing whatever it takes to help those who need it wherever they are and whoever they may be. It is about providing value by making promises and keeping them. Rotarians are committed to making a difference by helping others with no expectation of return.

What You Are Known For

As for a belief system, The Four Way Test pretty well says it. Herbert J. Taylor was asked to take over leadership of a bankrupt company. The company had failed because of serial dishonesty and broken promises to customers.

Taylor searched for an ethics statement that would signal the new direction the company was taking. He believed that if employees “would think right, they would do right.”  He crafted the statement below and later saw it adopted by Rotary International when he became president. Read more It begins, “In all we say and do…”

1.    Is it the TRUTH?
2.    Is it FAIR to all concerned?
3.    Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
4.    Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
Rotarians do media event promoting fund raising for projects.

A Promise is a Promise

An effective brand makes a promise that people served can believe in. It communicates who you are, what you stand for, and the unique promise you deliver on.

To build your club’s brand, it is helpful to know what others understand it to be. What is the promise you make to those you serve?

What do people in your community think and say about your club? The worst indictment would be that they don’t think or say anything! They may know you exist but not much more. 

When you think about it, successful brands are built around a central idea that is compelling and offer real and perceived value to all stakeholders. A distinctive brand positions an organization and gives it a competitive edge.

The global Rotary brand would not be possible without a network of strong local brands which are each unique in their own way. Peter Lougheed, a great Canadian political leader promoted the motto, ‘Think globally but act locally.’ 

I feel that works for Rotary. The strength of local clubs provide the human, financial, logistical, creative and practical resources needed to serve internationally.

Rotarian Terry Felton shows pic to family in Guatemala  

Soul to Soul

The process of branding is connecting emotionally with those we serve. We do that. Hundreds of typical Rotary projects qualify as providing a quality experience for our customers by making their lives better. I'll wager your club does at least one of these.

  • Eradicating polio, feeding the hungry
  • Building houses for the poorest of poor
  • Building schools for the poorest of the poor
  • Starting micro-credit projects
  • Mentoring at-risk youth
  • Supporting shelters for victims of domestic violence
  • Helping young women leave the street life
  • Supporting addictions recovery programs
  • Installing water filters in developing nations
  • Building parks
  • Supporting pretty well anything connected with youth and families 

A Great Brand

Whether you are a not-for-profit, small business, large company or a lone wolf entrepreneur, great branding is about telling your story in a way that compels customers to buy what you are selling. For Rotary, translate that into; 

  • Attracting new members
  • Appealing to funding partners
  • Gaining project sponsors
  • Communicating through the media
  • Generating government and other support for a project  

Marketing tools help spread the word, but the core is always the quality experience provided to people served. Logos, corporate colors, media relations, websites, social media, quality programs, types of service projects, signs – are how we put an outward face on the inner Rotary 'soul.' 

Building your clubs' brand may require innovative thinking. In fact, sometimes it requires more than just thinking outside of the box. It may require thinking as if there is no box. 

Other posts in the Building the Rotary Brand series provide tips for raising awareness and promoting your club. Defining your club’s brand is a starting place that will point you in directions you need to go to grow.  


Brand Audit

Write a two sentence answer to each of these questions. Forming them into a final document will provide a brand analysis of your club.
1.    What is the first impression visitors have of your meetings? Do they feel your club is inclusive or exclusive?
2.    Is your club “up,” fun loving, and positive or a collection of Debby and Donnie Downers?
3.    Is your club drawn to big ideas? Do members say “How can we” or “We can’t?”
4.    Does your meeting location accurately reflect your club’s real or perceived brand?
5.    Do your programs inspire members to higher levels of professional and personal growth and service?
6.    How would you rate the community’s awareness level of your club? (1-10)
7.    Do your members have a marketing mind-set? Are they satisfied with the status quo?
8.    Do members feel attracting new members is an ongoing process or an annual “project?”
9.    Are service projects chosen because of member passion for the cause or convenience?
10. Do your members serve because they can or because they have to?

Robyn Braley is a marketing specialist, keynote speaker and writer. He is also a Rotarian who is passionate about Building the Rotary Brand. Robyn has led two teams that received the Rotary International PR Award. He has also served as the PR Chair for District 5360. 


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