WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?
Re-Branding for Relevance
BY LISA B. BRENNER AND SUZANNE VOCE
A successful brand speaks in a timely and
meaningful way to all its target markets.
While a brand promise stays consistent
over time, however, a brand’s relevance
is constantly changing. Irrelevance, therefore, often is a sign that it’s time for an
association to re-brand itself in pursuit of
new, meaningful messaging.
Relevance was at the heart of the problem for the Alliance for the American
Dental Association. Made up of dentists’
spouses, the organization serves two purposes: to provide ongoing services in support of dental practices and families, and
to deliver local, regional and national programs that help promote healthy teeth.
Recently, AADA was experiencing a
steady decrease in membership, which
was jeopardizing the organization’s budget and future survival. There were two
main drivers of this decline. First, despite
the fact that nearly half of all practicing
dentists today are women, the organization’s programming and communications focused predominantly on female
spouses. For instance, one campaign
used purple shoes as a symbol for active
female dental spouses. The result: Very
few men were participating in the organization.
Second, AADA lacked direct access to
spouses. Instead, its initial membership
invitations were mailed to the dentist,
who was asked to share them with his or
her spouse. Unfortunately, dentists were
not seeing the relevance of the association and were therefore not passing
membership invitations to their spouses.
The impact was a marked decline in membership, especially among young dental
Branding to the Rescue
AADA recognized that operational
changes alone would not be enough to
stem the tide of declining membership.
Executives understood they needed to
refresh the AADA brand and better articu-
late that organization’s value proposition.
At the same time, however, the association did not want to lose its emphasis on
member benefits, such as camaraderie
among dental spouses, effective legislative advocacy and volunteerism.
To address this challenge, AADA partnered with MKB, a Chicago-based branding, web and integrated communications
firm with significant association experience.
MKB initiated a re-branding process
that included conducting individual
interviews with membership and marketing executives; facilitating a face-to-face
feedback session and online follow-up
with AADA leaders and members; redefining the association’s brand essence,
characteristics and benefits; drafting a
new statement of brand positioning; and
developing a new corporate identity.
To be effective, MKB knew the re-branding
had to appeal to both dentists and their
spouses — male as well as female —
while attracting interest from both established and younger prospective members.
It therefore pursued the following outcomes:
• A new brand promise: MKB determined that what AADA does best is
“promote healthy dental practices”
among dentists and their spouses, the
profession as a whole and consumers.
• A new tagline: To reflect the brand
essence, MKB created a tagline that
immediately conveys a sense of rel-
evance: “The Reason to Smile.” For
members and prospects, supporting
messages make clear that the reason
to smile is the support and sharing
they obtain from other dental spouses.
For dentists, meanwhile, supporting
messages suggest that the reason to
smile is AADA’s effective grassroots
legislative activity. And for consumers,
they declare that the reason to smile is
the association’s oral health outreach
Lisa B. Brenner;is;president;of;Bright;Ideas;LLC;
Suzanne Voce is;director;of;sales;for;MKB;;she;may