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Chamber Executive Article Archive

Rebranding: Ten Perspectives

By ACCE Staff

Spring/Summer 2013

Rebranding: It’s a rite of passage, a grueling exercise, and a champagne bottle-against-the-hull moment for every chamber of commerce.

What is rebranding? Usually it’s a lengthy process including research, testing and consensus-building among several constituencies which leads to new strategies and initiatives requiring planning, budgeting and resource deployment resulting in work that accomplishes the mission(s) suggested by the new strategies.

The fun part of rebranding is redesigning your logo, rewriting your tagline and developing marketing plans for new deliverables, sometimes including the perilous process of altering the chamber’s name. These are typically part of the rebranding endgame, but they often get early attention when people talk about their brand.

A name change is not the typical rebranding outcome. Usually all that is required is new typography and fresh colors to improve your subliminal messaging. But for some, after several decades of use the original chamber name may seem disconnected from contemporary notions of a dynamic business entity.

Chambers of commerce are uniquely named business organizations thanks to the French, who first recorded the phrase chambre de commerce in 1599, says chamber historian and ACCE Senior V.P. Chris Mead. The phrase still retains its cachet for most of today’s chambers. However, in recent years there’s been a trend toward truncating chamber names. One example: Years ago the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce became the Greater Kansas City Chamber. Last November it became the KC Chamber.

Chamber mergers or geographic expansion usually require rebranding. In 1973, the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan St. Louis merged with the St. Louis Regional Industrial Development Corporation and the St. Louis Research Council to become the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association. In 1973, the words “Growth Association” were forward thinking and aspirational, given the chamber’s increased focus on economic development. But this year, with a new CEO and four decades of identification with economic development, the St. Louis RCGA became the St. Louis Regional Chamber, a change viewed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as a way to simplify and modernize the brand.

Of course, a logo redesign or name change does not guarantee that your followers will view you any differently. But the combined effects of rebranding often lead to new programs and services, changes in existing ones and a refreshed look and feel for all of your chamber’s public-facing elements: website, signage, marketing pieces, newsletters, letterhead, business cards and more.

In the following 10 case studies, you’ll find that rebranding often can be traced to one or more of these factors:

    • A new CEO.
    • A new strategic plan or community study.
    • An imminent chamber anniversary.
    • Perceived weakness, even a minor one, within the chamber.
    • Willingness to gamble on a big idea.

Rebranding can revitalize staff commitment and invigorate a bored board of directors. It allows new chamber execs to put a stake in the ground to mark their progress toward new, mission-critical goals. It’s a chance to hit the reset button, remodel your mission, get a fresh paint job, change strategic expectations and build a better community.

Grand Rapids  |  KC  |  Billings  |  Missoula  |  Longview  |  Newnan-Coweta
Rockport-Fulton  |  Jackson  |  Warsaw-Kosciusko  |  MIDJersey

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