The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce needed to develop its member base across the entire business community, appealing to a diversity of audiences. For that, they needed a fresh, inclusive brand — and so they hired the MAC.
The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce is a network of local leaders working to build a more prosperous business community, providing organizations and individuals with resources, connections, and opportunities to grow and thrive professionally.
Yet for a member-based organization such as the Chamber, the need to expand membership is more pressing now than ever. Times are changing: nationwide, communities are shifting younger, for one thing. Millennials are currently the largest generation, and they in turn are about to be overtaken by Generation Z. In order to build a prosperous future, the Chamber’s leaders knew they had to get ahead of the curve with an expansive, more inclusive message.
But how to position the organization as being current and resourceful — not only among longstanding audiences, but also for new prospects who may not see the Chamber’s relevance? That was the question. To help them answer it, the MAC guided the Chamber through an in-depth research phase, including a competitive analysis, brand audit, and half-day messaging workshop, followed by strategic, creative work targeted to deliver.
The result? A vibrant and welcoming visual identity, a strategy tailored for multiple audiences, and messaging designed to motivate action from those the Chamber seeks to reach.
The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce had an outdated brand with limited appeal. Amid changing demographics and an aging member base, it needed to position itself strategically for a new, shifting landscape.
On the heels of that challenge came another: generally, Chambers of Commerce nationwide have a lot in common; their main distinction being location. But if the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce was to make a compelling case to new members, it was going to need a more powerful story.
The goals for the new brand were straightforward:
- How to reach new members, including people who might not know (or care) about the Chamber of Commerce?
- How to position this organization as directly relevant to their needs — then prove its relevance with an inclusive identity that’s approachable to all?
- How to appeal to executives as well as small business owners, to young professionals as well as local employees?
- Finally, how to differentiate the Chamber from similar organizations in nearby cities, as well as from Chambers farther afield that happen to share the name of Albany?
Where differentiation is concerned, our competitive analysis revealed that most nearby Chambers did not have up-to-date branding; this in itself spelled opportunity. To reinforce the Chamber’s potential to stand out, our team chose to avoid the color green, which is associated with the identities of neighboring cities.
Then, through a half-day workshop intensive with Chamber leadership and members, we developed a strong understanding of the benefits of membership and the culture of its community. We knew we would need to convey the benefits of active, engaged membership. We knew our strategy would need to include ways to reach prospects outside of traditional channels.
We also realized that in order to reach a wide variety of audience demographics, the brand would need a tone of voice that’s professional (relevant to the business community), down to earth (approachable to all), and welcoming (actively making space for many perspectives).
In order to build a prosperous future, the Chamber’s leaders knew they had to get ahead of the curve with an expansive, more inclusive message.
Drawing from our competitive analysis, market research, and discovery workshop, we began by developing a positioning statement to distill the essence and strategy of the new brand into just a few words:
We’re a network of Albany area leaders working to build a more prosperous business community, providing organizations and individuals with resources, connections, and opportunities to grow and thrive professionally.
From there, we developed a flexible core messaging kit that can be adapted to various applications, as well as three focused elevator pitches to resonate with the primary audiences that the Chamber seeks to reach: mapping the benefits of membership to their own pressing concerns and priorities.
Next it was time to define the visual identity. Through an iterative process, we guided the Chamber through many creative possibilities to a unified identity system that expresses its business identity in warm, approachable colors, and with a logo that emphasizes connection among parts: bringing great minds together for a strong, dynamic business community.
We then extended these elements into a vibrant texture playing on the shape of the letter A, while expressing energy, consistency, and friendliness. Finally, we applied the new elements across stationery, business cards and promotional materials for a comprehensive brand kit.
From the start, working with the team from MAC has been a great experience. They took the idea of rebranding the Chamber and helped us navigate through all of the variables there are in a major change. I am confident that what has been designed and implemented will help us be a stronger and more vibrant Chamber.
Faced with a changing landscape, the Chamber needed a strategic partner to position their organization for long-term success. With our help they gained a strong, vibrant visual identity to welcome new members into the fold, targeted messaging to appeal to key audiences, and a strategy to reach those who may never have discovered them otherwise.
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