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The Union Brand

This post accompanies the new UnionDues podcast

What has branding got to do with unions?  Google the term and you get a clutch of results that point you towards multinational corporate megaliths, or expensively niche specialists.

Yet the fundamental questions – and practicalities – of branding and rebranding have as much application for unions as any other organisation.

Think about this 8 point questionnaire-cum-checklist for those considering the issue:

1. Am I clear about what it is I do—and how I do it?

2. How do I want to be positioned in the marketplace?

3. Is its clear what field I am in?

4. Is my brand in alignment with what I actually do?

5. What emotions do I want to evoke from my target audience? 

6. Who are my top three ‘competitors’?

7. Am I copying anyone?

8. How will my new brand be integrated into my current online presence?

These aren’t from our labour movement world at all, but they certainly could be.

Because we operate in a highly competitive and at times hostile environment. Lots of people and things vying for potential and actual members’ attention, time and acceptability. 

Think about it:  trade unions rarely get a good press, so that’s one barrier to overcome before most others.  Then there’s messaging from the employer,  the demands of your job,  the busier-than-a-one-armed-juggler-with-crabs demands of life, especially with commuting and caring responsibilities.  There‘s a financial aspect too,  and the affordability of membership.

And even if all of these are overcome, we compete amongst each other, with multiple unions often covering the same occupations – think teaching, health, media.

How do we get our message, our identity, to cut through?

Now imagine having something that does cut though all that.  Something that gives an instant and unmistakable recognition to not just a product, service or organisation, but a range of values too. It really makes a difference.  Look at the following:

(Image from creativebloq.com)

You know what most, if not all 6, of these logos link to.  And you’ll have views about the merits or not of those companies.

What if unions could harness that power of intuitive recognition – and integrate with that values universally seen as “good” – things that people already associate us with, like equality, fairness, collective voice.

This is no hypothetical question,  but a real challenge. As I noted in a post from 2017:

We want both our members and the rest of the world to know what we are about don’t we?  That good work is important. That collectivism and community spirit is more important than undiluted and uncaring individualism.  That workers are entitled health, safety, fair pay and job security.  That we get things done and give people a voice.

But we want people to “get” this as easily as possible.  We don’t have the time or resources to engage every individual in debate about what we do and how and why we do it.  Branding   for the trade union movement can provide that quick link and give us greater reach.

In the latest UnionDues podcast, we chat about the truth or otherwise of all this with Andrew Pakes, who has just masterminded a union-wide rebrand in Prospect.

We also look at what response he got to his Covid related call-to-arms , hear from Unions21 Director Becky Wright about their masterclass on communications in a time of crisis,  and review some of the latest big stories in unionland, including the CWU’s response to Royal Mail scrapping Saturday deliveries,  and the STUC’s payday check campaign.

Unions are delivering stand out services and engagement to their members and the public in these unprecedented times.  That should be recognised and celebrated.  You can find out what each union is doing on the TUC website here.

We’d love your views – issues we should cover, people you’d like to hear us chat with.  Email us a [email protected], and tweet us at @DuesUnion

Download, stream, share, rate, review, but above all enjoy all UnionDues episodes here.

Stay well, stay safe, stay home if you can.

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