By Laurie Williams
I am an Arizonan. I was born and raised here. I have owned horses and barrel raced, and I read westerns; Louis L’Amour was one of my favorites, so my blog is going to start with the western theme of riding for the brand.
In the West riding for the brand meant staying loyal to what matters. In the solitary world of cowboys, that means the ranch (brand) for whom they worked and their personal moral compass.
After I got past my cowgirl phase, I went to work. One of the jobs I had in the early eighties was as a waitress for Coco’s Restaurant. At that time, Coco’s had very distinctive uniforms and you could get fired if you were caught wearing your uniform outside of work. Coco’s philosophy was that, because the uniform was so recognizable, wherever you wore it, you represented the brand - so no after work drinks in uniform.
Just another way of riding for the brand.
So, by now you are asking yourself what does this have to do with associations?
I believe once you say you are part of an association you become a representative of the association, especially if you are a board member or association staff.
Association leadership needs to be focused and visibly committed. They need to exemplify a guiding culture that nets a positive impact for the association. Association leadership needs to nurture meaningful relationships with everyone.
A board or staff member grumbling about the association can have far reaching repercussions on the association.
Association leadership needs to put forth an association culture that makes prospective members want to be a part of it.
Associations sell the invisible. The ROI on association membership is usually presented as a list of member benefits. Members do appreciate the tangible benefits they receive, but that alone does not drive membership; relationships, culture, and passion for the cause drive membership.
Association leadership needs to live, demonstrate, and communicate that culture and passion.
In other words, association leadership should always ride for the brand.