What's Your Brand?

That is the $64K question.

Has your brand changed over the years?

Building a brand is important, it’s built over time, and you need to review your brand every five to ten years if you want to stay relevant.

Which leads me to my next question.

As I visit with the chamber community across the country, I’m always asked the following four questions.
  1. Are Chamber’s of Commerce Relevant?
  2. Are some more relevant than others?
  3. Are all your members important?
  4. Are some more important than others?
As you might have guessed, the answer is yes to all four. But, let’s not fool ourselves, some chambers are more relevant than others, and some members are more important than others.

Based on the Winston Group study, a question was asked – “What makes chambers relevant?” The top 4 answers:
  1. Networking opportunities (41%)
  2. Economic/community development (37%)
  3. Issue advocacy/lobbying (16%)
  4. Tourism/Community promotion (15%)
That being said, I’m quick to point out a conversation I had with a chamber CEO last year who stated, “If you’ve met one chamber, you’ve met one chamber,” which leads me to my next question.

What is your Chambers Value Proposition?

You’ve seen the equation: Benefits – Costs = Value.

What is your Chamber’s Golden Handcuff? What do you provide that every member wants to be a part of. That’s your golden handcuff, and that’s a question only you can answer.

I’m reminded of two books I’ve read and wanted to share two concepts that I keep “top of mind.”

The first, is by Jim Collins. The book is Good to Great, and it talks about how organizations make the leap. Mr. Collins refers to a concept called the “Hedgehog Theory.” And, in a nutshell, it’s a business model for lines of business. Think of three circles:
  1. What do you do better than anybody else?;
  2. What do you have passion for?; and
  3. What do you make money at?
The book suggests to focus on where the three meet.

The second book, Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain. Mr. Bourdain was the executive chef at Les Halles in New York.

He talks about why people go back to the same restaurant year, after year, after year for the same meal. I’m guilty. I went to Café Dalat, in Arlington, VA, for 15 years, and I order the same thing every time (without exception).

I’m so guilty, I go cross country to California and order the same meal at Lares, a Mexican restaurant, every year – that little tradition has been going on for 20 years.

Mr. Bourdain states that people order the same meal, from the same restaurant, because they know the quality of the meal will be the same every time.

I suggest the message to chamber leaders (volunteer and staff), is too never forget why your members join.

Your members will want you to innovate, push the envelope, create new products and services, but at the same time, you need to deliver the core goods that your members expect from your chamber.

As you look towards the future: show the value; communicate, communicate, communicate your brand; build partnerships/alliances; and never take a member for granted.