Each year, hundreds of young women across the country are part of an elite group of high school students chosen to participate in ALA Girls State.
The week includes many opportunities to learn about government from the local level to the state level. Since the inception of this Auxiliary program in 1937, thousands of young women have experienced a week full of learning, friendships, and lasting memories. Many of these women are now leaders in our communities, state, and nation.
But what if the participants don’t know who put the event on for them? What if all they hear before, during, and after their week is “Girls State” and not “ALA Girls State”? This lack of identification has led to a branding problem within our premier program. But with a few simple steps, we can improve it.
It’s important to always use “ALA” in front of ALA Girls State and ALA Girls Nation to brand the programs in order to educate the public that these are our programs. We don’t want this identity crisis to continue and be a lost opportunity to recruit new members into the Auxiliary, as well as alumnae of the program to become donors.
Branding ALA Girls State includes making small changes that add up to big results. Here are a few highlights:
Say it out loud: Practice makes perfect. The more you say the entire name, ALA Girls State, out loud, the more it’s going to stick. This goes for externally and internally discussing the program. If you forget because you’re not used to it, simply correct yourself and restate the full name of the program. If someone forgets to include the ALA part, correct her nicely. If ALA members can’t get it right, how can we expect an external audience to?
Write it down: In any scripts you may use for your week of ALA Girls State, be sure to include ALA at the start of every mention of the program. You can never write it enough in your script.
Social media: Be sure your social media accounts include ALA in front of the name so anyone can immediately associate us with this program. In the “about” section, make sure you include ALA in front of Girls State as well as any posts or pictures to make sure you are well branded. Consistent branding is key. This also applies to your website. Be sure you have ALA Girls State throughout.
Emblem: It’s important to use the pre-approved emblem provided by ALA National Headquarters to brand your program. An American Legion Auxiliary Girls State program may use the “American Legion Auxiliary” and “Girls State” trademarks for stationery, publications, notices, posters, or similar correspondence items without requesting national approval. The ALA Girls State and ALA Girls Nation emblems cannot be altered due to trademark. National Headquarters has created two custom versions available for each department upon request. Contact ALAGS@ALAforVeterans.org to request an emblem. For more information on emblem approval, download the ALA Branding Guide at www.ALAforVeterans.org.
Apparel: All volunteers should be properly branded with ALA on all apparel. We have to set the example while running the program so the girls see us branded day in and day out and know it’s an ALA program. Also, be sure to get permission to use the ALA emblem by filling out the Use Approval Request Form at www.ALAforVeterans.org/Resources.
Documents: Be sure to include the full ALA Girls State name on all documents attendees will receive before, during, and after the program. This goes for external audiences as well — when you talk about your program in the community, when you send press releases, and any document that may be seen by the participants or external audiences who could potentially be interested in the ALA and what we do.
Email signature: Once we make one, we often forget to change an email signature if there are any updates. Be sure to include ALA in front of your Girls State program name so that when sending emails to internal and external audiences, you are branding the program correctly.
Legion Family branding: Ask the Legionnaires in your post to condition themselves to use American Legion Boys State too. We should be working together on this effort!
By implementing these simple yet effective steps, you will be on your way to ensuring our ALA Girls State and ALA Girls Nation programs are recognized throughout the country as premier programs of the American Legion Auxiliary.
Let’s brand this program proudly so our thousands of alumnae know who presented the program for them. Through proper branding, American Legion Auxiliary members can help more people learn who we are, what we do, and why the ALA matters.
Do you have questions, need branding advice, or have an ALA Girls State branding story to share? Email us at emblem@ALAforVeterans.org with “ALA Girls State branding” in the subject line.
This article was first published in the May Auxiliary magazine.