I’m not sure how other namers out there are approach the naming of associations, membership organizations and societies. Really. I’m not.
We’re getting swamped by calls from associations wanting help recovering from naming projects – mostly internally led. They want help recovering from membership revolt or to head off what they see as an impending confrontation.
From what we can determine the causes for the alienation are from one of two things. Either the leadership team went off on its own to develop a new identity and presents a single option for the membership to vote on out of the blue – usually at the annual meeting… Or the leadership team goes to the membership and asks what the name should be – resulting in thousands of submissions, factionalization of the membership base, and no majority approval.
Membership organizations have a rather interesting aspect to the development of a new name. Rather than trying to attract dollars, the name is often better tasked in helping to raise the profile or morale of the membership. Organizations have come to us seeking help in making the members sound more credible, in finding new ways to refer to terms that are outdated, or to invent a word for a concept that is so new it hasn’t even had terminology coined yet.
We’re really enjoying the work – both on the creative side and on the membership-involvement side. The reason why so many association rebrands fail has more to do with not understanding how to involve the membership without ceding control than it does with finding the perfect name. Stokefire doesn’t build perfect names and brands. There’s no such thing. The best brands in the world are flawed. They do, however, have exceptionally strong aspects to them that outweigh the weaknesses in the current market.
So… word to the wise on association naming. Don’t try to get your membership to name your association for you. It won’t work – and the majority of your members won’t like the name. Also don’t attempt to force a singular identity upon your members – they’ll mutiny. Find a way to involve membership in the process without allowing the masses to pull you in ten thousand different directions.
It’s possible… honest. We’re doin’ it today.
Principal – Stokefire