Monday, September 21, 2009

Branding the NSGC

This is a perfect opportunity to introduce many of you to our president elect Liz Kearney. Liz, who also has an MBA in marketing, has been leading our branding efforts this past year. The following is from Liz to get everyone up to speed on the in and outs of branding the NSGC.

Steven Keiles, MS
NSGC President

When you hear the term “brand” or “branding”, what comes to your mind? You might think of consumer products (like Nike or Apple) or if you grew up in the heart of the Midwest like me, you might think of cattle! Being both a genetic counselor and a marketer, I’d like to share some thoughts on what branding is and why NSGC should embark on developing a brand.

Take a minute to think about your favorite consumer brand. What images do you picture? Does that brand have a spokesperson, and if so, what does he or she represent to you? What emotions does the brand evoke in you?

Being somewhat of a shopaholic, one of my favorite brands is Coach. (Those of you who are more thrifty, feel free to judge!) To me, Coach represents style, quality, and luxury, and I envision well-dressed, professional women who exhibit confidence. This past holiday season, my husband demonstrated another benefit of branding when he purchased all of my gifts at Coach! Shopping at Coach assured him he was buying consistent quality that he knew I would appreciate. In other words, shopping by brand made his task easier. Of course, the efficiency of one-stop shopping and a 25% off coupon also probably had something to do with it.

However, this example demonstrates the power of a brand. A “brand” consists of all the images, emotions, and experiences that a brand evokes or associates in the customer’s mind to demonstrate the difference from other competing products or services. In other words, branding is not just a logo. It permeates all aspects of a customer’s entire experience with the product or service.

NSGC is embarking on a branding effort that began a few years ago when the NSGC Board created a brand platform that defines the benefits genetic counselors bring to healthcare; by doing so, the NSGC brings value to its members as it advocates for the genetic counseling profession. The next step in branding has recently begun, as the current Board approved moving forward with creation of basic brand elements, such as a new logo and brand color palette.

Why brand an association? There are many reasons! Branding builds external credibility and attracts attention and dollars; with a strong brand, the NSGC can increase the power of its voice to the external world to advocate for the profession. And more pragmatically, a well-developed brand platform provides guidance on how to spend limited resources. To build a powerful brand, we will have to make strategic choices and consistently represent the core elements of our brand in all aspects of what we do, including our programs, website, brochures, communications, and PR messaging.

I hope you are as excited as I am about this opportunity to increase NSGC’s visibility! I thank the NSGC Board and past leadership for its vision in initiating and supporting this effort.

Liz Kearney, MS
NSGC President-Elect