by Stephanie Lee, Club Growth Director
Imagine three guests come to your next club meeting – one had been a member years ago in a different state, one was told to find a Toastmasters club by her supervisor, and one is the co-worker of your current Area Director. Before the meeting even starts, each of them has preconceptions about Toastmasters. These are formed from logos they’ve seen, from fliers they’ve read about an open house, from invitations they’ve received, from past Toastmasters and current members they talk to, and from any number of random sources.All of these add up to what they think of Toastmasters. And all three guests probably have a very different perception of what Toastmasters stands for.
Proper branding is how we as Toastmasters members and leaders communicate a clear message about what our program is and what guests can expect when they walk through the door.
Branding of our meeting supplies, social media and web presence, and communications strengthens our public persona and helps us attract new members. While each club has a VP of Public Relations and the District has a Public Relations Manager to keep an eye on the wider vision of how we are using the Toastmasters brand, it is truly the responsibility of all of us to keep our message from being diluted.
Consistency in messaging
The best way to represent the Toastmasters brand is to maintain consistent messaging. It’s not only good for Toastmasters as a whole; it’s good for the District, your club, and even you as a member. Think about it: if the brand as a whole is strong, it makes your job easier when you introduce people to the organization. What they have heard about outside is what they’ll find inside a club. And when we maintain consistency in our clubs, it also goes outward to help cultivate our worldwide brand.
Commonalities in club operation
Consistency in how clubs operate is the string that connects us to other members around the world. We have a bond with others who share the same interest in Toastmasters as we do, regardless of anyone’s lifestyle or cultural background. Branding is a quick way to convey that message even when you don’t speak the same language.
So what can we do to work with the Toastmasters brand instead of against it? We can use the tools and elements that Toastmasters has already created for us. You can find them all on the branding site. It has a section dedicated to brand elements, and a brand manual that governs the application and uses of the logo, fonts, color palette and even style of photography. There’s also club and district stationery, business cards and fliers. You can access formatted PowerPoint templates, social media elements, and all kinds of fun things to incorporate into your club website.
Remember that consistency and brand experience are vitally linked. To raise awareness of Toastmasters as a force for good in the world, we have to attend to how everyone experiences our brand. And to grow the Toastmasters reputation from that seed, you need to apply all of its brand elements consistently. This includes its messaging. By delivering the brand experience in a consistent way, you’ll not only enhance the Toastmasters mission, you won’t disappoint anyone who tries Toastmasters, because they’ll know what to expect. And they’ll bring more friends, who will bring other friends, and so on…