Before your Association can be de-positioned, let’s start by discussing how it is positioned? Have you ever thought about how the positioning of your Association is relative to its members? Among like Associations? Positioning is the place your Association “owns” in the minds of its key stakeholders. Positioning can be based on a superiority or niche offering; it can be comparative. For those Boomers reading this, think about the old Avis Rent-A-Car advertising campaign that appropriately positioned Avis against the big brand in the category at the time, Hertz. The Avis positioning? “Avis is #2 but we try harder.” 

So, has your Association carved out a unique, differentiated positioning? Or, has it been “de-positioned” by similar organizations that your Association is working harder to be alike than different?

Too often, similarity is the positioning that too many organizations pursue. But when similarity rules the direction, it dictates a direction that will make it challenging for your Association to be known for what it does differently, uniquely – the specific member value it offers. When de-positioning happens, organizations work harder at being similar rather than being different. This creates a “fuzziness” among members and every other stakeholder connected to your brand.

So how does an Association get to a differentiated position? Start with asking how your members and other stakeholders think about your organization. What assets of your organization do they believe are unlike those that may be available from others? Find out what they think makes your Association special, different and meaningful. Based on this feedback, make sure your Association’s programs and services are aligned with these stakeholder insights. At this point, you’ll begin to understand the position you can earn in the minds of those that count on you most.

Industry’s strongest advocate. Most robust data. Innovators in the industry. Largest Association for ____________.  You get the idea. When you have the insights from your stakeholders, they’ll help you determine your position relative to their needs and relative to what they know and think of other like Associations.

Once you have your positioning defined, make sure it begins to show up in your brand story and all communications.