At some point during a board meeting, a member says… “we need an elevator speech” or “we need to do a better job communicating who we are” or better yet “what is our brand?”

Our response might be to write something down for them or report on our marketing plan. Somehow this becomes an exercise  and it doesn’t stick. A little time goes by and they ask again.

Board members need more than this. We need to find a way to engage them in working on building the organization’s brand.

Here are four steps to get started…

I. Create Space for a Dialogue – Find an appropriate opportunity to have an extended conversation about the organization’s brand identity. Make it the focus of a single board meeting or put it on the agenda for a board retreat. The objective is to create enough space for members to have a thoughtful discussion. This is their time to talk to each other, so avoid lengthy presentations.

II.  Learn What They Know – No matter how little or how much your board knows about your organization’s brand, they will have an impression of it. Spend some time discussing these impression. Ask them to describe what the organization stand for and have them share their own perceptions of the brand.

III. Develop Organizational Pride – The key question here is… what are we so proud of that we want everyone to know about? Pride is a powerful motivator for both board and staff. Having this discussion will help the board understand the specific brand attributes that set the organization a part and make it meaningful to the community.

IV. Make it Visible – Share a sampling of print and electronic communications with the board and ask them to identify the brand attributes that are visible. Ask for recommendations on ways to make specific attributes more pronounced. Before doing this collect similar information from other key stakeholder groups and add this to your conversation.

When members work on an organization’s brand they have to learn it, understand it, and share it with one another. They no longer see it not as a functional component of the organization’s work, but a key way of forwarding the mission.