Branding Begins With a Promise

By Kenneth Hitchner, CMA public relations and social media manager

More than 25 years ago, Jeffrey Barnhart knew he was creating something more than a name and a logo.

When he launched full-service CMA Association Management, he was more concerned about the overall association experience, which includes expectations, quality of work and results.

Branding Begins With a Promise
CMA CEO and President Jeffrey Barnhart leads a strategic marketing session with the National Association of Independent Lighting Distributors.

In other words, he was thinking about the long-term value of branding. And he knew that associations weren’t simply coming back for the exemplary service. They returned for the “promise.”

“A brand is a story that makes a public pledge,” said Barnhart, who is president and CEO of CMA Association Management, which is based in Princeton Junction, N.J. “We offer a standard that is built upon shared values among our team members. Our tagline–Expect Results–captures the essence of our company and separates us from the rest.”

On Wednesday, September 30, Barnhart will headline a panel discussion, “Create. Promote. Protect Your Brand.” at the New Jersey Hospital Association’s Conference and Event Center in Princeton, N.J. The MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce event will also feature Szaferman Lakind’s partner/attorney Lionel J. Frank and attorney Richard A. Catalina, as well as the Trenton Thunder’s Lydia Rios, who is the director of marketing and sponsorships and yours truly. (As CMA’s public relations and social media manager, I will shed some light on how to promote your brand in a digital age. Click here to register.)

Top Branding Tips

But if you are interested in a “sneak peak,” here are a few pointers in terms of creating your own successful brand, based on Barnhart’s experience:

  • Create a logo that evokes the keywords that surround your brand. If your brand is “trustworthy” or “innovative,” make sure your logo matches.
  • Write down your key messages, which are what you say when someone asks about your brand. Key messages capture the essence of your association: What does your organization do? Where is the value? How is it different? What does your association believe?
  • Make sure your actions match your words. This is the easiest way to build a positive reputation, which leads to more relationships and more revenue.
  • Be consistent, which is extremely important. Use the same colors, design, words and typeface on every touch point with your prospects and existing members. No one can tell your story better than you, so make sure you don’t keep changing it.

Need help with your association’s brand? Can we help elevate your story above the rest? Please contact us at or call us at (609) 799-4900.

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