The old AMADC brand wasn’t as engaging as it could have been, according to the team behind the recent rebrand, which was unveiled in February. On June 22, Bates Creative President Debbie Bates-Schrott (who also happens to be AMADC’s Chief Creative Officer), welcomed Jennifer Fose, art director for Bates Creative, Mark DeVito, president and chief creative officer for The Gigawatt Group, and Scott Greenwell, creative director for Unleashed Technologies, to her “talk show set” to speak to the successful ingredients of a brand strategy, using AMADC’s branding overhaul as a case study.

According to Mark, it’s important to understand what the brand stands for. It should be authentic and mission-driven. Aspirational brands don’t do as well as transparent brands. In AMADC’s case, the old brand wasn’t intimate and it didn’t emit a personality. Because of that, the audience had trouble engaging with it. (And we all know that marketers don’t like to be marketed to). Jen agreed with Mark, adding that a brand should represent the people that are a part of it—which is one of the reasons the new logo represents the area that folks are from (it’s specific and unique to AMA and also to DC). The panel also underscored the importance of research in developing a new brand that would mirror the chapter’s prominence, professionalism and growth. It’s in this phase that you can gain real insights from your stakeholders. You start to take all of the pieces (from membership surveys, for example) and start orchestrating them in a way that makes sense. AMADC’s brand architects also discussed the importance of understanding design boundaries from the client’s perspective, which means asking questions in an attempt to get everything on the table first. The panel agreed that the audit can be one of the most uncomfortable pieces in the process as you explore and really dig into what’s working and what’s not when it comes to the brand. Scott had this to say when talking about the process behind a rebrand: “If you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not changing.” Timelines for a rebrand can vary but all agreed that the process does not happen overnight and there are certain elements that should be considered, including technology, even if they don’t happen until later in the rollout strategy. “Branding is the chicken,” Scott answered, when asked whether a website should be developed before the brand identity and message. For AMADC, Debbie told the group that the brand guidelines, identity and message (including how it would be interpreted to members) was developed before the website was built (although a comp and wireframes had already been created). Now that the new brand has been unveiled, and the refreshed website has launched, AMADC and its board of directors are focusing on driving home an experience that makes the new identity real.

So what’s next? Watch your email and social feeds for information about an All Member Meeting this fall, where we’ll talk more about the chapter’s current state, plans for growth, and 2016-17 programming calendar that reflects the organization’s dynamic, top-notch membership base.