Grab Attention or Maintain Tradition? 
The Balancing Act of Association Branding


February 1, 2024

As association marketers, we constantly grapple with an important question: Should we keep things consistent for the sake of brand recognition or shake things up to grab attention? The truth is, we need to do both.

According to recent research, 64% of people say consistent branding is important when deciding which brands they like and trust.  Maintaining a consistent brand experience is key to building brand equity and loyalty with your members and industry audience. Using the same or similar color palettes, fonts, logos, and messaging across your marketing materials helps reinforce your brand in the minds of your audience.

However, it’s also important to shake things up every now and then. According to the same research, 36% of people say they like brands that change their look and feel over time.  This is especially true for younger audiences who are more likely to be influenced by trends than older generations.  So how do you strike a balance between consistency and change?

In today’s fast-paced, distraction-filled world, consistency alone won’t always capture and keep attention.  We need to occasionally revamp our designs and try new approaches to stay relevant and stand out. As Henry Ford famously said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” We can’t rely solely on tradition and convention.

The solution is finding the right balance between consistency and freshness. Keep your core brand elements steady but look for opportunities to improve and optimize in ways that excite your audience. Maybe it’s using an eye-catching new image on your homepage. Or redesigning your newsletter with an updated template. Or launching an innovative new online community platform.

When making changes, focus on designs and messaging that highlight the value you provide to members. Look at trends in your industry and adjacent fields for inspiration. And don't be afraid to take risks: if something doesn't land as you'd hoped, you can always make additional tweaks or revert back to what you know works.

Change for the sake of change is misguided. But purposeful, strategic enhancements to an already-strong brand framework can work wonders for boosting engagement and building brand passion. The truth is, members today expect dynamism and relevance from the organizations they join. The key is educating your teams on why brand consistency matters, while also giving them opportunities to suggest and test new ideas. Help them move past the “we’ve always done it this way” thinking and see how a touch of revelation can be an association’s best friend.

With the right balance of consistency and freshness, you’ll have a winning brand that both comforts and captivates your audiences. And that’s the mark of a memorable, impactful association. 

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