Fraternal branding initiative: Is this our "Billy Beane" moment?
October 17, 2016At last month's Alliance Annual Meeting, Oakland A's General Manager Billy Beane challenged fraternal leaders to both think differently and act decisively if they were to successfully compete against their larger and better capitalized commercial competitors. During a presentation on the Alliance's proposed fraternal branding initiative later that day, Alliance Board member and former Board Chair Harald Borrmann of Catholic United Financial, characterized the members' decision to move forward on the project as "a Billy Beane moment" for the fraternal sector. I could not have described it better myself. Over the past six months you've no doubt read and heard quite a bit about the branding initiative. The results of the Alliance's initial consumer research clearly demonstrate three key findings: 1) the vast majority of consumers are completely unaware of fraternals; 2) there are characteristics of the fraternal model that have significant appeal to a broad cross-section of consumers; and 3) describing fraternals in a way that makes sense to consumers will increase awareness and create growth opportunities for Alliance member societies. Based on these initial results, the Alliance developed a proposal to provide members with specific branding tools -- consumer-tested words and phrases, sample ads, and information on the type of consumers for whom the fraternal model has the most appeal. During the Branding Roundtable session at the Annual Meeting, member society executives discussed the proposal and voiced strong support for moving forward with it. The total cost of the project is $500,000 and the cost to each society is dependent on the number of Alliance members that agree to fund the project. Members were informed that the cost is estimated to be between $7,500 and $9,500 per society. Before confirming their willingness to fund the project, member society leaders wanted answers to a variety of specific questions about the branding initiative. This week, Alliance member society CEOs will receive those detailed responses along with a one-question survey asking them to confirm their commitment to project. Member responses are due by the end of October, and the Board will review the results and make the "go/no go" decision when it meets on December 7. So it all comes down to you. Are we going to think AND act differently about addressing one of the most profound problems -- lack of consumer awareness -- facing the fraternal sector? Or are we going to continue with business as usual? We'll know in just a few short weeks.