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How a Brand System Accelerates the Impact of Your Member-Driven Organization

Phil Tretheway October 11, 2023

To build a strong emotional connection with your audience, you need a comprehensive resource that enables you to create a meaningful and cohesive narrative over time. More than a recipe outlining color and text options, you need the support of a robust and sophisticated brand system.

With a brand system, you gain a toolbox that’s built to ensure your organization speaks to its audiences in a way that saves both time and money. Rather than starting from scratch with each new marketing project, a brand system gives your organization a head start.

Understanding the Benefits of a Brand System

The details that constitute how your brand looks are typically outlined in a logo guide or brand guidelines. These documents perform the vital work of ensuring the visual elements of your brand remain consistent across every platform.

By contrast, a brand system provides a more comprehensive framework. It encompasses who you are and how to verbally and visually communicate that to your audiences. This covers not only colors and typography, but also your brand’s tone of voice, messaging, values, and more. 

A strong brand system informs nearly every aspect of your organization. Plus, it ensures each department has the tools to deliver messaging that’s consistent, clear, and scalable in a way that resonates with your audience.

Core Elements of an Effective Brand System

When you work with the right agency, you gain a partner to help define and articulate your values, audience, and what you do for members. These elements form the building blocks of a strong brand system.

A brand system hinges on four elements:

  • Purpose: Your vision, values, and mission. Who are you? Why do you exist?
  • Audience: Who are you serving? What specific population are you appealing to?
  • Messaging: How do you communicate with your target audience?
  • Visuals: What are the visual tools to tell your story?

How Brand Systems Accelerate Marketing Initiatives

Once your brand system is established, your organization gains a vital resource to use over and over for any aspect of your marketing. Plus, you gain a valuable ally that resolves common problems plaguing organizations needing to connect with a new generation of members.

Fundamentally, a brand system’s greatest value is its ability to deliver a head start for your team, making your marketing faster and more effective. Imagine you’re a professional cyclist, but every time you prepare for a race, you have to rebuild your bicycle from scratch. Then, once you’ve assembled everything you need, you can jump on and start the race. If you have everything you need for your bicycle already in place, you start racing that much faster.

With a brand system, your team starts marketing projects with everyone working from a common truth. You know who you’re talking to and your organization’s role. By starting each project from that baseline, your marketing team doesn’t waste time rebuilding what defines your brand. Instead, you’re free to put your energy into creating more impact and value for members.

Core Benefits of a Brand System for Member-Driven Organizations

For member-driven organizations, a well-defined brand system provides the following benefits:

Unified Identity: Organizations are made up of members with diverse backgrounds and varying interests. A strong brand system helps unify your members with a shared identity, values, and messaging. With an established brand system, you create a common thread that binds members together. 

Credibility: A brand system that is well executed over time enhances your organization’s credibility to new and future members and prospective sponsors. A consistent presentation shows that your organization takes its mission seriously and is dedicated to effectively representing its members.

Advocacy, Influence, and Public Perception: A brand system enables your organization to shape how it is perceived by the public, including policymakers, industry leaders, and potential members. Your ability to create a positive impression to a general audience impacts your association’s effectiveness and reach. A unified visual and messaging identity establishes trust with stakeholders and enhances your ability to rally members around your cause.

Member Engagement: A well-developed brand that resonates with members gives them something to be loyal to and rally around. It can create a sense of belonging among the association’s members.

Partnerships and Sponsorships: Events and marketing materials presented from a strong brand system attract potential partners and sponsors that are aligned with your organization’s values. 

Event Promotion: Events, webinars, and conferences provide a valuable lifeline between your organization and its members. A brand system ensures all content associated with these events retains a consistent look and feel to reinforce your overall organization’s identity and message.

Strategic Foundation: As your organization evolves, a brand system provides a strategic foundation. For example, should your organization grow excited about a new idea like a video campaign on social media, you can bring every detail back to your brand’s core character, tone, and central messaging. Does the project reinforce these details? When you tie every initiative to the same strategic foundation, the results are much stronger.

The Bigger Picture of a Brand System

When comparing logo guidelines versus brand guidelines and brand systems, it’s easy to linger on the details. Ultimately, a brand system doesn’t need to document a specific number of elements to give your marketing an advantage. Your goal is to create a comprehensive resource that empowers your organization to connect with its audience in an impactful way.

At the same time, a brand system enables your teams to act from a place of complete understanding of your organization’s identity, as well as who it serves and why it exists. A brand system is a tangible resource. But it’s only powerful when consistently leveraged.

It’s important to ensure your team is aligned and understands how your brand system makes their lives easier and simplifies solutions to organizational challenges. With a brand system in place, your organization gains an ongoing checkpoint for everything it does.

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