As American Legion Auxiliary members prepare for the centennial celebration of our organization, it’s vital to focus on our brand and building brand loyalty for the future of the ALA and our longstanding mission of serving veterans, the military, and their families.
Branding is more than just wearing an Auxiliary T-shirt to a unit event or community function. The ALA brand is what others think of us when they see us in our ALA attire. They see the ALA name, but they remember our attitudes and how we act. They associate the name American Legion Auxiliary and our conduct with the ALA brand.
In short, YOU are the ALA brand and can help our organization build brand loyalty among current and future members by making small branding changes that add up to big differences.
Below are a handful of ways you can use branding to bolster ALA Centennial Strategic Plan Goal 5 (With The American Legion, Build Brand Loyalty) and Goal 1 (Enhance Membership Strength):
- Social media: Name your social media page or group so it clearly identifies your ALA entity (department, unit, program, etc.). For example, a Facebook page named American Legion Auxiliary Unit 43 provides no clue into what state or region it’s in. A better profile name is American Legion Auxiliary Unit 43, La Grande, Oregon.
- Website: Design your unit/department website to be similar to the ALA national website and/or use red, white, and blue colors that are consistent with the overall look of our brand versus a website with a lime green or hot pink background, for example. We are the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization! Have a consistent look and feel between your website, social media, and other branded materials for the benefit of both members and nonmembers.
- Email signature: Close your email messages with a signature that has a professional, readable font and includes all the necessary contact information where prospective members and the public can reach you conveniently and quickly (i.e.; name, ALA title/position — remember to include the administrative year – phone number, fax number if applicable, and unit/department website address). Avoid using animated GIFs and other clipart images that are otherwise distracting.
- Emblem: Use the ALA emblem consistently, and follow the ALA Branding Guide. In the end, your efforts will help with overall recognition of our organization. If the emblem is distorted, stretched, or manipulated in any way, it makes it difficult for both members and the public to identify who we are. Log in to the Members Only section at ALAforVeterans.org to download a free copy of the ALA Branding Guide for more information on emblem usage.
- Proper name for a premier program: Use “ALA” in front of all ALA Girls State references so it’s clearly identified as an American Legion Auxiliary program. Many alumnae do not know the American Legion Auxiliary presents ALA Girls State. Let’s make sure our ALA Girls State program branding becomes a strong opportunity to recruit new members as well as alumnae of the program to become donors. Brand our program proudly!
- Apparel: With any apparel items, maximize your print area! Having shirts or accessories created to complement your upcoming ALA activity or event? Ask your artwork vendor what your print area is, and fill it up with the ALA emblem so you are easily recognizable as a member. Arizona ALA Unit 62 had artist aprons made as part of an American Legion Auxiliary Foundation grant benefiting women veterans, so ALA National Headquarters advised members to use a large, round Auxiliary logo as opposed to a small, horizontal version for maximum emblem exposure on the aprons.
With these tips, and support from the ALA Branding Guide, your unit and department can become better brand ambassadors to help members, prospective members, and the public move forward with a clearer picture of who we are, what we do, and why we matter.
Our brand is our identity, our message, our reputation, and our future. How we display it and how we behave every day, good or bad, reflects on our brand — it has a lasting impact and affects how others perceive us and view the ALA.
The newest ALA Academy course, ALA Branding and Why It Matters to Me, is now available! Learn more about branding and its role in the future of the ALA. Visit www.ALAforVeterans.org to log in and get started today!
This article was originally published in the November Auxiliary magazine.