Wednesday, January 6, 2010

As many of you have heard, the NSGC is undergoing a transformation around our branding and marketing efforts. This includes a new logo, color palette, website and marketing target for our profession. In recent years, the American Board of Genetic Counseling went through the same process. We thought it would be helpful to hear more about the process. Anne Greb who was a member of the ABGC board of directors during this time was gracious enough to be a guest blogger to provide some perspective to our membership. What follows is Anne’s account of the process. Thanks Anne,

Liz Kearney
NSGC President

I recently had the opportunity to serve on ABGC’s Board of Directors. At my very first board meeting, I remember much discussion among the board members about how as a group, genetic counselors just didn’t understand ABGC’s mission, much less how important it is. Besides confusion about ABGC’s role, the Board realized that the organization had an image problem. Some on the Board argued that ABGC’s role is to protect the public by recognizing genetic counselors who are competent to provide genetic counseling services. Others felt that ABGC needed to do a better job helping counselors promote their credential. After many discussions and much debate, the Board decided that ABGC needed a make-over.

Like many multi-talented and hardworking genetic counselors, we as board members thought we could figure out what to do about ABGC’s image problem and then do it. I had recently been involved in a marketing initiative at my own institution and knew that we were out of our league. If we were serious about changing ABGC’s image, we would need professional help. To this day, I’m still not sure how I was able to convince the Board to enlist the help of a marketing firm, but I did. Even though this involved a significant investment, in the end the Board understood how important promoting the value of the ABGC credential was in the continued evolution of the genetic counseling profession.

At this point the hard part was done (for the most part!). Working with our marketing firm to develop a plan was enlightening and a lot of fun. Nothing replaces the value of an outsider’s perception and insight. The firm identified the factors they felt contributed to the misperceptions about ABGC and a realistic strategy was outlined to address them. The really fun part for me (a wanna be graphic designer) was to work with them to develop what in the business is called the “trade dress,” or the look of an organization. The process was actually pretty interesting. Ground rules needed to be established since there would never be 100% agreement on the final look. Our marketing firm told us that no matter what we came up with, half of our group will like it and the other half won’t. So up front we decided who would be involved in making the decision about the new look and the others would just have to stay quiet – not easy for genetic counselors!

In the end, these marketing efforts helped ABGC move forward. The organization’s new look is more professional and sophisticated. ABGC has a different attitude about its relationships with its constituents and can more effectively meet their needs. The bottom line – marketing is necessary for the success and growth of any organization. It wasn’t enough for just the members of ABGC’s board of directors to believe in the organization and its mission, others needed to also.

Anne E. Greb, M.S., C.G.C.
Genetic Counseling Graduate Program DirectorWayne State University School of Medicine

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