Branding membership-based organizations


Membership has its quirks

Here at Sussner, we have certain guiding principles when it comes to creating brand foundations. Within those principles, and that process, is the understanding that every organization we work with is absolutely different. This necessitates adjustments and flexibility. When it comes to “Clubs,” many foundational branding principles apply, but a healthy measure of flexibility enters the picture. Membership-based organizations are uniquely audience- and community-focused, requiring nuanced alterations.


Club life

So, what exactly do we mean by “club?” They are essentially experiential and service-driven entities. Such as:

  • Golf/tennis clubs
  • Country clubs
  • Athletic clubs
  • Professional organizations
  • Travel clubs
  • Airline club facilities
  • Athletic teams
  • Collegiate teams
  • Youth recreational clubs

At the core of it, all of the above afford its members unique access to some experience, location and/or activity. 


For instance, a golf club

How fortuitus that we happen to be in the midst of refreshing an established golf club brand. While important in any branding effort, understanding the audience of a club client is paramount to success. We did extensive interviewing of current members and research into the surrounding community, in particular, nearby golf clubs. We were digging for the core of their story. What made the cost of admission worth it—was it the location, the amenities, their fellow members, the staff, it couldn’t be the horrible water hazard on 14, other intangibles, or a unique combo of all.

We were also faced with making sure to connect with a new generation of members, without losing or alienating the current/older generation. Inspire the future. Respect the past. 


Who are you?

Clubs make choices in what they put forward—whether it’s exclusivity, privacy, community or their unique take on membership culture, and how to articulate that culture. Be intentional about whatever you are and stand for. A well-defined club brand also serves to self-curate membership—put forth a face and a vibe that appeals to certain personalities—without shouting, “stay away you dirty peasants!” (Not a good look on any brand.) 


Wear it and share it

Like all branding, it’s not just the logo (but a great logo can do wonders). It’s the unique qualities that draw this group of individuals together as a club. What are the attributes that they share, and want to share going forward? What are the strengths of this collective experience? 

Pride of affiliation is a powerful thing that can build upon itself. Members become brand ambassadors. The pride of membership is based on personal experiences and the making of memories. 

When branding for clubs, be hyper sensitive to listening and having thoughtful conversations. Clubs are tribal in the best possible way. Hear and incorporate the stories of the tribe to create something special that people want to be a part of. Tennis anyone?


Welcome to the club,

Team Sussner


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