Posted by: Del Suggs – Saltwatermusic.com
Last time I discussed time
management tools, and conflict
resolution. Even if your board is
functioning well, there is nearly
always room for improvement.
In this column, I’ll deal with some
exciting concepts called Branding
and Marketing. Perhaps you’ll get
some ideas here that you can use to
take your board to the next level. It’s
all part of building a High-Powered
You may already be familiar with the
topic of marketing. Sometimes we
use other terms, such as advertising,
publicity, or public relations.
However, this time we’re not dealing
with marketing your board’s events
(concerts, comedians, films, etc.).
We’ll be looking at ways to publicize
your programming board. And that
all begins with Branding.
Heat Up The Branding Iron
Branding comes from the old West,
as you might guess. You’ve seen
cowboy movies where the branding
iron is heated red-hot, and then
applied to a steer. The scar, like a
tattoo, identifies the steer as
belonging to a particular ranch. That
way, when the cattle were all
together in a herd, it was obvious
who owned each steer.
In contemporary marketing, branding
uses that same concept as a
metaphor. By creating a brand, you
will allow the public (your customers)
to identify your company. And
likewise, when your campus events
happen (like a herd), it will be
obvious who “owns” each event.
Creating Your Brand
We tend to think of a brand as
something as simple as a logo or
symbol. It’s actually much more
complex than that. Branding is a
kind of shorthand, or abbreviation.
It’s a summation of your “product”
and all that your product embodies.
Let me give you a simple example.
We all know McDonald’s, the famous
hamburger chain. You might think of
their brand as the famous “Golden
Arches.” But that’s really just their
logo. Their brand is much more.
Ray Kroc, the developer of the
modern McDonald’s enterprise had a
number of corporate goals: good
food, fast service, and consistent
flavor at every restaurant. So that’s
what he created. You know at every
McDonald’s the food will be
reasonably good, prepared
reasonably fast, and that it will taste
exactly the same at every
How about Nike? You probably think
of the “Nike Swoosh”, that reverse
check mark they use as a logo. Or
maybe you remember their famous
tagline: “Just Do It.”
Again, the Nike brand is far more
than that. It includes the athletes
who wear their shoes on the field
and court. It includes the promise of
enhanced athletic performance,
comfort and foot protection, and
See– it’s that consistency of the
product that is the “brand.” It’s not
just the logo. A brand is like a deal
that a company strikes with it’s
customers. It says “this is who we
are, and this is what we do.” Brands
are important because they convey a
lot of information very quickly.
Why Is It Important?
You may be thinking “what does this
have to do with my programming
board?” Branding is essential to
creating a High Powered
Programming Board. Let me give
you a few reasons.
First, it creates an image for your
program board. It makes your board
stand out from the other
organizations on campus.
Second, it creates more campus
awareness for your board. That
means more students at your events.
Third, it helps you recruit and retain
members. Does your board have
too many volunteers? I didn’t think
Fourth, it improves your “product”–
the events you produce on campus.
Finally, it strikes a deal with your
students. Your brand will say: “this is
a quality program” to everyone
Creating A Brand
The first step is creating your brand.
Pull together a committee to
establish what your brand will be.
Begin by creating your organizational
mission statement. Why does your
organization exist? What do you
do? For whom do you do it?
Then look outside your organization.
How do your students perceive your
organization? How about the faculty,
administration, and staff? Are you
unknown? Do you have a negative
image to overcome? Do you have a
positive reputation you can build on?
The idea is to create a perceived,
unique image for your board.
Answering all these questions will
help you to create a more vibrant
and improved image for your
By determining what you are
supposed to do, how you are
supposed to do it, and what you want
your “customers” to think of you, all
of this information will help you to
create your brand. Sum it up as
briefly as you can. This will be your
Searing The Flanks
Once you’ve defined your purpose
and image– your brand– then you
can begin to market it. Again, learn
from the professionals on Madison
Avenue (that’s where the big
advertising agencies are located in
New York, by the way).
Create a brand “message” complete
with a name and logo. Maybe today
you’re just the Campus Program
Board. With your new brand,
tomorrow you could be “CPB– We
Rock Your World!” Perhaps you’d
develop a logo with a globe and the
letters CPB, while “Campus Program
Board” is in a circle around the
globe. Get the idea? Something
new, unique, and exciting.
Consistency In Your Brand
Once you’ve created your brand–
your perceived image and your
logo– then create a “style sheet” for
use. All major corporations have a
predetermined style for every aspect
of their marketing.
Using our Campus Program Board
example: is it abbreviated as “CPB”
or is it “C.P.B.”? Is it always upper
case, or sometimes “cpb”? How
about the font? Is it a serif, a sans
serif, or something totally unique?
How about the tagline “We Rock
Your World!”? Is it always used with
“CPB”? Is it all caps, or just the first
word, or the first letter of each word?
I’m not just trying to be picky. In
your Style sheet, you should
standardize your name,
abbreviation, spelling, font, case–
everything that deals with your
brand. Look at other famous brands.
You’ll never see Coca-Cola spell
“Coke” as all caps. You’ll never see
Coca-Cola written without the
It’s that consistency of style that
helps to establish your brand, your
image. First you create a standard
style, then you use it consistently. It
really works. Just ask KFC, or IBM,
Use Your Brand
When you have created and
standardized your brand, then it’s
time to use it. Put your brand on
everything you do! It goes on your
T-shirts. It goes on your office door.
Have it tattooed on your advisor (just
kidding…). It goes everywhere your
Make sure all of your board
members are knowledgeable
supportive of your new brand. If
you’ve changed names, stop using
the old name. So what if it used to
be called the “Campus Committee
on Cocurricular Activities.” Now
you’re “CPB– We Rock Your World!”
Use that, and forget about the old
name that nobody knew anyway.
Use your brand when you market
your events. When you run an
advertisement about Spring Fling in
the newspaper, make sure your
standardized brand is a part of the
ad. Even when you put up posters
and flyers on campus for an
upcoming concert, include your
brand on the publicity material.
It’s that consistency of use that really
establishes your brand. Earlier I said
that brands are really a type of
shorthand. When you use your
brand consistently, and produce
outstanding events consistently, then
your brand will become synonymous
with what you do.
Again, it’s like Coca-Cola. They
produced a high quality soft drink,
standardized their brand style, and
used it in all their marketing. Now
people will order a “Coke” (meaning
a cola drink) while they’re standing in
front a Pepsi sign. That’s branding
If you have any questions or
comments, I’d love to hear from you.
Just drop me an email, and I’ll get
back to you.