Your club’s brand is one of its most valuable assets. According to Nielsen’s Global New Product Innovation Survey, 59 percent of consumers prefer to buy new products from brands familiar to them. And your club is one of them.
Branding, and in particular luxury lifestyle branding, is much more than just a cool logo, a hip website or well-placed advertisement. Your brand is defined by your members’ overall perception, “And that is significant because it shapes how the marketplace views your club,” explains Frank Gore of Gore Golf and chief analyst of BoardRoom’s Distinguished Clubs program.
“It can have an effect on the joining fee, retention and the club’s ability to attract new members. It’s more than the traditional branding of the club’s name, logo and tag line, it includes the club’s history, image and what makes it special.”
A successful brand has to be consistent in communication and experience, across many applications:
- Atmosphere: clubhouse, golf course, historic displays, wellness and fitness centers, tennis, and other activity centers
- Marketing: stationery, menus, signage, marketing collateral, website, social media and content marketing
- Member Relations: sales, membership marketing, staff interaction, accounting and customer service
Effective, ongoing branding should invoke emotion, and build loyalty. When members have a good experience at their club that builds desire and loyalty, this increases word-of-mouth referrals, brand advocacy – and exclusivity. So where do you start?
Identify your member.
The foundation for building your brand is to determine to whom you are marketing.
Solidify a picture of your membership, and then create a brand identity to which they can understand and relate.
Define your mission and vision statements.
Before you can build a brand that your members and future members trust, you need to know why you are in business and what you offer individuals, families and the community.
Research your niche.
Research your main competitors and understand how they have effectively, and ineffectively built their brand and engaged their audience. Now, how do you differentiate yourself?
Outline the club’s key qualities and member benefits.
There will always be the new restaurant down the street or the latest fitness center that will compete for your members’ time and money. So instead, focus on the qualities that make your club unique; the experiences, the services and the benefits that you bring to the table.
Find the voice of your story.
Your club’s voice is based on the mission statement, the vision statement and your membership. How do you communicate with your member? How do they respond to you? Is your club traditional, family-friendly, service-oriented or casual? Choose a voice that resonates with both the club and the members and be vigilant in its use – this will continually build your brand.
Craft a great logo and tagline.
The most basic (and arguably the most important piece) of brand building, is the creation of your club logo, iconography and tagline. Even if the club’s logo hasn’t changed in 100 years, hire a professional to make sure it doesn’t look 100-years-old, or like a photocopy of a photocopy. Your iconography will be on everything and is the visual recognition of your promise. Likewise, when crafting your tagline. Revisit your mission and vision statements and club voice to keep your message concise and consistent.
Tell your story.
Every club has a story to tell, find yours. Then use your voice to make your story heard. Make it simple and make it clear, and craft it in a language that invokes emotion, for example your club history, club traditions, tournaments, events, etc. Address what your club offers its membership and why this is important.
Your members are looking for an experience tailored to their needs, backed by genuine personal interaction. Make every interaction with them (and prospective members) count!
Integrate your brand.
Your club’s brand should be visible and reflected in everything that your members see – and don’t see. Vision and mission statements should be posted where employees can see them, and business cards, member communication, website, digital presence, marketing collateral, signage and newsletters should be branded visually and incorporate your chosen voice.
Stay true to your brand.
Unless your club is changing into something that is more effective based on measured member response, consistency is key.
Be a brand advocate.
Once your brand is in place, spread the word. Create a club culture where new employees are given tools to succeed and your consistent message and visual identity reinforce the club’s vision and mission. By integrating your brand into every aspect of the member experience, members are subtly reminded of your promise, your promise to offer unique, rewarding experiences at their home away from home.
Heather Arias de Cordoba is vice president of creative and associate editor with Boardroom magazine, the resource of choice for private club directors, presidents, owners and general managers (http://www.boardroommagazine.com). She can be reached at (949) 365-6966 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org