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Does a Subset of an Organization Need to Reflect the Overarching Brand?

August 23, 2018

The membership committee of Fine Line Creative Arts Center, a non-profit I participate in locally, determined one of its goals was to “rebrand membership.” As a certified brand strategist, I get excited about participating in any aspect of brand development. However, it turned out that what the committee really meant by rebranding membership was simply finding a more compelling way to describe the benefits of membership, while deemphasizing the discounts members receive on classes.

Evidence of Distinction Remains Key

I assumed that any rebranding of membership would be done in conjunction with a rebranding of the organization itself. At minimum, I expected we would ensure that the messaging surrounding membership fully aligned with the organization’s brand.

In fact, the committee had not intended to review the membership drive in the context of the overarching brand. They simply wanted membership to be more about participating and donating, rather than just getting a cost break on activities. At my urging, we collected input from the board’s executive team and key staff members and also reviewed survey input from members explaining why the organization was important to them.

Value Does Not Equal Cost

What was the recurring point of distinction that came through from every single source? The sense of being part of a community of like-minded people. Not one person suggested discounts were a primary motivation. That doesn’t mean no one appreciates the discounts, just that Fine Line was missing the real value that people find in becoming a card-carrying member of the organization. We were able to craft the message in a manner that appealed to people’s sense of community – not only the larger, local community, but also the individual communities within the organization – art lovers, potters, weavers, jewelers, painters, blacksmiths, wood carvers and more.

All Roads Lead to Brand

Regardless of the membership committee’s original intent, people’s reasons for choosing membership inherently revolved around the Fine Line brand – the evidence of distinction that makes Fine Line a shining gem for anyone from the surrounding area interested in supporting or participating in a community of art lovers, art dabblers and artists.



Jane Cooper, President of Cooper Hong Inc. is an accomplished businesswoman and published author of fiction and nonfiction, Jane is a certified brand strategist with more than 25 years of experience in brand communications, business-to-business PR and marketing communications. 

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