Home' Rotary Down Under : July 2014 (International) Contents BRANDING
20 Issue 563. July 2014
The Rotary Brand
n 2006 and in 2010 Rotary conducted surveys
that told us something you and I probably
already knew: Many people had never heard
of Rotary and of those who had very few
knew what we did.
We spend large amounts of money on Public
Relations Grants, yet our membership has not grown and we
have not attracted large donors to support our work. The RI
Board recognised that if we continued to do what we were
doing we would continue to get the same results and decided
to employ branding experts to help us develop the tools we
need. After a rigorous selection process the Board contracted
Siegel + Gale, an international consultancy, and formed a
committee of Directors and Trustees to work with them.
What is Branding? Our brand explains simply and clearly
who we are, what we do and why it matters. Unfortunately,
we had allowed our wonderful Rotary brand to become
complicated and confused and it was time to look for ways
to strengthen it. This was not about reinvention or creating
a new brand, but about bringing focus to it.
Siegel + Gale began their assignment by conducting wide
ranging research both inside and outside Rotary and this
research brought out some clear directions for us to take.
This independent review by outside consultants brought
out interesting viewpoints as well as identifying what it is
that makes us what we are.
They found that we speak our own language to one
another by using acronyms like RYLA, MUNA, GSE, PDGs
and words that are not used generally such as “sergeant
at arms”. We communicate with each other very well, but
non-Rotarians don’t know what we are talking about. Then
we use a different language in our written material. The
style is stilted and formal. Our publications focus on “how
to” rather than “why” when most people today are much
more interested in outcomes.
They learned that sometimes Rotarians find it difficult
to express who or what we are and that we need to
understand ourselves before we can successfully educate
the general public.
We have too many Mission Statements and Siegel + Gale
identified well in excess of a hundred logos, many of which
have no obvious connection to Rotary.
While we are proud of what we call our international
service, we talk about it incessantly and miss out on
promoting other strengths.
Whenever Siegel + Gale talked to Rotarians they found
that the words “leaders” and “leadership” always came
into the conversation, yet they were missing from all our
The perception gap between internal and external
audiences is huge.
As the consultants looked at the positives they found many
strengths we take for granted. They found that Rotarians join
clubs to make a positive impact in their communities and for
friendship and stay for the same reasons.
We connect very well, among our club members, among
clubs, and with those in our communities who can help us
in what we do.
We are an organisation of responsible leaders, both socially
and ethically. We gain strength from our classification
system that brings so many vocations together. Our diversity
of membership is a plus because it helps us see and think
differently from any other organisation.
The research showed that Rotary has the strengths necessary
to succeed and that audiences want what Rotary offers. We
just need to help them understand what we do.
The need is not simply for new words. What we are
looking for and what we need is focus and clarity of
purpose, which will give us a new filter for decision making,
a motivator for current members and staff, and more
efficient communications. For non-Rotarians we are looking
to provide recognition of what we do, differentiation
from our peers, the recruitment of members, donors and
volunteers, more engagement with our communities and
appeal to strategic partners.
The new “gold standard” for an organisation like ours
is a clear focus, accountability and proven impact. We can
do all of this.
During the 2012-13 International Assembly past Rotary International
President Bill Boyd gave an address on the Siegel + Gale branding
report and Rotary’s branding challenges. His inspirational address
should serve as food for thought for us all.
By Bill Boyd
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