Professional marketers and communications from around the world got a preview of a new brand identity at the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Leadership Institute (LI) conference that took place in Orlando recently.
The IABC has more than 12,000 members and a hundred chapters in North America, Africa, Asia Pacific and Europe. Each year, chapter leaders attend a conference for planning, training and development. As IABC Ottawa’s executive vice president I was delighted to attend.
The conference kicked off with Robin McCasland, IABC’s immediate past chair and Priya Bates, leader of the brand task force, presenting an explanation of the brand development process including a discussion of values and the rationale for the change.
Research, including a survey of members and consultation with IABC leaders from around the world, was conducted and formed the basis of the re-branding strategy.
The data showed that IABC has been perceived as dated, closed and unfocused. Members felt the association was not seen to be advocating for the profession and lacked a truly international focus. It also uncovered significant opportunities in increasing openness and accessibility and becoming more contemporary.
The goal was to develop a brand that is innovative, dynamic and professional and one that would provide a fair degree of freedom within a framework.
The presentation included a sneak peek at the new logo and provided many examples of how it may be implemented. Priya Bates (quoting Carly Fiorina) stated: “Our brand is who we are and how we deliver,” as she revealed the new look.
The new logo is a circle with the letters IA over BC in the centre. The letters are cut out of the circle. The circle emphasizes IABC’s global focus and indicates a sense of community. The modern font lends a contemporary feel and leaving the colour choice to the user provides flexibility to chapters to express a local brand.
The new identity is worlds away from the old one and it has no tagline. ‘Be Heard’, IABC’s former slogan is being dropped completely. The former brand identity has been in place for years. It was dated and no longer accurately reflected the profession or the member base. The change makes sense.
The IABC International Executive Board and a special branding task force worked with Canadian advertising agency, Arcas Advertising. The Regina, Saskatchewan-based Arcas specializes in branding, advertising, identity, communications and digital services, and conducted the brand review and new brand development on a pro bono basis. It won the opportunity following a competitive tender process.
To say the logo was warmly received would be an understatement. As the new look was revealed on the conference big screen the audience was silent for a full five seconds. Then people laughed out loud. Then they applauded loudly.
For a conference of professional communicators, of course there was a hashtag for such a special announcement: #IABCsneakpeek. And, LI attendees went crazy with it. There were more than 300 tweets in the first hour of the session!
The audience pretty much loved the new concept and so did I. It accurately reflects the culture of the organization and the profession. I love the flexibility regarding colour and implementation and the circle nicely articulates community and connection. If I were to pick nits, I’d say the IA and the BC should be pulled a little more closely together. I think the spacing leaves too much open to interpretation and could confuse readers. Is it the IA of BC?
I especially loved the exercise that followed the presentation. The gathered IABC leaders were invited to use colour markers to decorate the logo in a way which reflects their own IABC journeys or identities. It very cleverly let each of us define the logo within our own contexts and to gain a sense of ownership for the new look and feel.
Then our personalized logos were made into buttons and we all wore our own version of the brand for the entire conference. What a cool way to build adoption and gain support right from the start. It won me over!
A version of this post was originally published on ThornleyFallis.com