Reprinted from Branding Bytes
"Many of our board members often cannot clearly and concisely articulate who we are or what we do. How can we turn them into better Brand Ambassadors for our organization?"I get this question a lot in my branding workshops, and my answer is always the same: The best place to start is in the board recruitment process.
People agree to serve on boards for all kinds of reasons, many because they truly believe in the mission and work of the organization. Others, however, go on boards because they feel honored to be asked and don't want to disappoint the person doing the asking; others because of the prestige of being a board member; still others because they like to see their names on the organization's letterhead.
Even those who join boards for all the right reasons still need to know what is expected of them once they agree to become board members.
Here are some things to consider when seeking people to serve on your board:
- Select well. How often have you heard the mantra "We need people of affluence and influence on our board?" Affluence and influence are fine. But if these characteristics are not backed by wisdom, integrity, and commitment, they don't amount to much. Therefore, select people to serve on your board who truly believe in who you are, what you do, how you do it, and care enough about your organization to go into the community and actively persuade others to support your good work.
- Articulate your expectations. Don't assume that board members, especially new board members, understand your expectations. Before bringing them on board, let them know that, among other things, you expect them to serve as good Brand Ambassadors for your organization, and what that means. Part of what that means is that they need to know what to say about your organization (see #3).
- Create a "messaging package." Everyone affiliated with your organization needs to "stay on message" when it comes to explaining to others what your organization is all about. Therefore, create a "messaging package" that, among other things, includes a positioning statement, sometimes referred to as an "elevator speech," as well as supporting statements that clearly articulate your organization's key brand messages. And make sure that everyone in your organization knows what those messages are, especially board members!
- Encourage board members to go into the community to deliver your brand messages. Once they understand and can articulate your brand messages, encourage board members to speak in front of local civic organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, Lions and Kiwanis Clubs, church groups, etc. and to tell their colleagues and families about your organization and the important work it performs in your community. These are all effective—and cost-free—branding opportunities that many organizations overlook.
- Get your board members to work as a coordinated team. Board members need each other's support and need to know each other as colleagues who share a common mission. If they exchange ideas both at regularly scheduled board meetings, in committees, and informally between meetings, they are much more likely to promote the organization's brand and support its fundraising activities.
© 2006, Larry Checco. Reprinted from Branding Bytes, vol. 1, no. 4 (fall 2006). Reprinted with permission.
Larry Checco is president of Checco Communications and author of Branding for Success: A Roadmap for Raising the Visibility and Value of Your Nonprofit Organization. In more than 25 years of nonprofit communications experience, he has helped raise the brand visibility, fundraising capabilities, membership levels, and impact of some of the nation's most respected nonprofit organizations and government agencies. For more information, go to www.Checcocomm.net.