Step One for Rebranding: Speak to Your Stakeholders

Before your association attempts to rebrand, it’s important to take the time to speak to your members and stakeholders about what they want. A look at how the Association for Print Technologies succeeded with this approach.

Long before NPES officially became the Association for Print Technologies on January 16, it created a new strategic plan that involved interviewing stakeholders and sifting through more than 13,000 surveys.

“We listened to hundreds of stakeholders throughout the print value chain, and we didn’t ask them what they wanted,” said Debbie Vieder, associate vice president of communications at APT. “We asked them what kept them up at night, and how they interacted with their partners and their customers.”

Vieder refers to this “outside-in” approach as integral to the new direction that APT ultimately decided to take. “Too many organizations and businesses fail because they take an ‘inside-out’ approach, meaning they speak to too few of their customers, they apply their own bias, they ask the wrong questions, and then they push out what they think customers need,” she said.

For instance, the APT asked equipment suppliers, “How well do you understand the needs of your customers: the printers?” And then it asked the printers, “How well do you think suppliers understand your needs?”

Questions like those revealed gaps or disconnects within the print industry. “For an industry that’s been around for so long, components of the industry still felt very segmented, not aligned with each other’s business outcomes,” said APT President Thayer Long in a video. “We saw real opportunity to provide leadership in that arena because we believe an industry that’s in alignment and that’s very collaborative is going to be one that’s built for success.”

Vieder said the consensus from those interviews and surveys formed the basis of a new strategic plan, not just for APT, but for the industry. It highlights ways to facilitate greater alignment and addresses other issues that are important to stakeholders, including workforce development and training, industry promotion, and advocacy.

In addition to its new name, the association has designated its annual industry event PRINT—building off the brand established decades before. A new website will launch this spring, and a new association department, Community and Industry Development, is already at work on new education and workforce-development solutions.

“This process was not accomplished quickly,” Vieder said. “It was done thoughtfully over close to a year. There were many facets—from interviews and the online research, to advisory groups that worked to hone the plan—so we feel really good about the results and initiatives that were driven from that data.”

What steps has your association taken to ensure a successful rebrand? Please leave your comments below.

(Hollygraphic/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Emily Bratcher

By Emily Bratcher

Emily Bratcher is a Contributing Editor for Associations Now. MORE

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