Chapter Marketing & Branding
Chapter participation and integration is enhanced through effective marketing.
Chapter participation and integration is enhanced through effective marketing. Marketing includes the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. In layman’s terms, marketing is how Chapters should communicate “who you are, what you do, and why it matters” to encourage people to participate as members, partners, or allies. There are many actions a Chapter can take to implement an effective marketing strategy.
Many Chapters have acquired branded t-shirts. Branding will be discussed below, but t-shirts and other “swag” such as hats, bags, stickers, etc. turn Chapter Members, their families, partners, and allies into walking billboards. Seeing the Chapter repeatedly out and about on campus will prime others to better receive messaging from the Chapter.
Partnering with other student organizations helps diversify an audience. The partnership should be justified and aligned with the Chapter’s goals. Partnering can increases turnout to the event and enables the sharing of financial and production responsibility with partners, not to mention new potential members and increased reach.
The concept of influencers is relatively new, but, as an influencer is an individual who has the power to affect decisions of others because of their authority, college campuses are stocked with them. An influencer can be anyone from a team captain, to a famous professor or alumna/us. Having an influencer to the event can bring a large crowd, and if the influencer enjoys working with the Chapter, it can create a long-term partnership.
Chapters are encouraged to grow their online presence. Many of this was outlined in the Chapter Communications section, but some out-of-the-box ideas include: opening a Snapchat or TikTok account for the Chapter and posting Chapter updates to these media. Create a Chapter playlist or Chapter event playlist—often for larger events—on Spotify. Chapters can create a website that showcases content, core values, and members using free and easy websites like Wix.com or Squarespace.
It is a good idea to create a specific hashtag for big, recurring events, so members and fans can post and share and follow updates through social media. For example, National Headquarters uses #SVALeads for our major programming and outreach as well others for specific events.
Whether a Chapter is brand new or has an established presence on a campus, there are always opportunities to increase the reach of a Chapter. New Chapters face unique challenges when it comes to establishing themselves on campus while established Chapters can often leverage establish practices to further their brand. Below are some helpful guides to branding.
Brands are nebulous and infinite. A brand can be the sum of brand experiences or interactions, but those experiences and interactions have infinite possibilities. Every touchpoint matters. Each moment counts. Although Chapters can work on creating structure for brands in the form of brand architecture (i.e., logo, messaging, social media presence), that architecture always accommodates for growth and change – so the brand can develop, expand, respond, and shift with the times.
At the foundation to the visual brand architecture, a true-to-mission logo makes a Chapter stand out. One of the most important factors needed to brand a Chapter is having a logo that serves the Chapter Members and partners well. In designing, enhancing, or redesigning a Chapter logo, Chapter Leaders can ask themselves the following: What does the Chapter mission say? What are the goals of the Chapter? How can the Chapter reach groups of students on campus who have traditionally been marginalized and make their campus experience better? Chapter Leaders are encouraged to use your National Headquarters logo and branding guides, while ensuring compliance with university branding guidelines. This includes color schemes, fonts, and ways in which logos are used on campus.
Brands are impactful because of their effects on people’s emotions. When people are asked why they love certain brands, it is often hard for them to pin down. They might provide a list of rational and logical reasons, but in the end, it often comes down to a feeling. How does that brand really make them feel? And why do they come back for more of that feeling? Why does that feeling mean something to them? Successful brands today are always emotionally infused. They hold great emotional meaning for people and that’s what makes that brand loved and respected.
Chapter Leaders can spread brand awareness and reach by attending other student organization meetings and events. This creates a sense of awareness of the members, mission, and goals of the Chapter as well as how you fit in to your campus culture. Students who are at these events will be able to recognize the Chapter Members outside of the event and create face-to-face relationships. Furthermore, supporting other student organizations is crucial to extending a sense of belonging for all students, especially those who are not typically included.
Chapter Officers can create a leadership position that is solely dedicated to marketing and branding, either the Vice President of Communications and Marketing or a committee leader supported by them.
This avoids the “create-content-by-committee” way of thinking where there are several voices that are creating content. When only one dedicated person oversees all social media, the Chapter has a better shot at having a clear and consistent voice.
Chapter Leaders should talk about the Chapter often. This seems like a small act, but word-of-mouth communication about how the Chapter impacts the bigger picture, the campus, the community, and those who live on/in both, can impact the overall success of a Chapter.
Chapters can also spread their reach by co-sponsoring and collaborating with other organizations.
All events benefit from collaboration with other organizations or groups. Budgets can often be tight, especially for smaller organizations or smaller institutions. Pooling resources can help multiple organizations reach their goals and create spaces on campus that are welcoming and inclusive, and there are community organizations that also want to collaborate.
Fostering great relationships with the community create better opportunities for success within the Chapter, and it also builds a link for members to have opportunities after graduation. Internships and jobs can come from collaborations. This furthers the Chapter’s credibility and presence on campus in a natural and beneficial way.