“If you were to ask me what Brand is, it really is a guide or a lens for the way you think, the way you act and the way you communicate brought to life at every point of interaction with your audiences, both internal and external.”  Haley Berlent of siegel+gale

In today’s world, a compelling brand is one of the keys to success for businesses and other organizations.

Rotary is taking our rebranding effort seriously, as a way to create more awareness of Rotary, help us attract new members, to share our relevance and to expand our impact.  In fact, this rebranding is called the Initiative to Strengthen Rotary!

So what is brand, and how do we build a strong brand for our Rotary Club?

When we talk about brand, you might expect to see the logo for Starbucks or for Nike or for Coca Cola.  These are examples of organizations that have built very strong branding.

In fact, you probably got a visual image of their logo or feeling about their products just by hearing these the company names.

The strongest brands have a clear image and create an emotional connection.  An emotional connection that results in attraction, trust, loyalty.

So what do you think about when you hear “Rotary”?

The Wheel!  Of course.  But the problem is that the majority of people do not know our wheel.

Research by Rotary has shown that in fact, 4 out of 10 people have never heard of Rotary, another 4 had heard of our name only, and 2 of the 10 knew something about Rotary, although not always accurate or factual.

When you think of Rotary, in addition to the wheel,

        • Do you also think about your friends in Rotary? …
        • How you feel when you are greeted at a Rotary Club’s meeting or event?  …
        • How you felt when you handed a Dictionary to a child?

This is all part of our Club’s Rotary Brand, as well.

Let’s start by learning more about what brand is and why it is important.

Please enjoy this short (2.5 minute) video.


Prepare facilitator with information on who John Hewko is and some background on siegel+gale and their work in 2011 for Rotary so they can answer questions that may come from the audience. 

Some examples of questions for facilitator to engage audience about the video:

        • What did you think about the video?
        • What was the main message you got from the video?
        • What is brand?
        • Why would our Club care about brand?

We can see how it is important for our Club to strengthen our own brand to create more awareness and visibility in the community about who we are and what we do.  A strong Rotary brand will also help us be more attractive to new members; it will help us get the attention of possible partners and others who may want to donate or be part of our service in the community.  A strong brand for our Club will help build even more pride for our own members!

The work to strengthen our Brand has brought more clarity to who we are as Rotarians, what we do, and why it matters.  The overview of our Rotary essence, values and voice helps us as we work to build a clear identity.  Let’s take a minute to consider these building blocks of our brand strategy.

First is our essence, which can be succinctly described as “Join Leaders. Exchange Ideas. Take Action.”  This is not a slogan, but provides three simple ideas to help us reinforce what Rotary is about with greater strength and consistency.

Next, our Rotary values of fellowship and global understanding, ethics and integrity, diversity, vocational expertise, service and leadership.  These values are also part of our Brand strategy—clarifying who we are and what we do, especially when we put them into active language:

        • We build lifelong relationships.
        • We honor our commitments.
        • We connect diverse perspectives.
        • We apply our leadership and expertise to solve some of our communities, and the world’s, greatest problems.

And our Rotary Voice, which is the unique way in which we communicate.  It captures our personality, our attitude, our spirit.  Our voice has a unique tone and style, and includes not only our words, but also visual images that we use to share our brand—logos, headlines, photos, graphics.  The Rotary Voice is how we share our “why”—why we are Rotarians, and why it matters. Do we need more here?

These three elements are the building blocks of our brand strategy.   (Link to Section 1 of Messaging Toolkit?—maybe a better graphic)


If we look at how to strengthen our Rotary Brand for our Club, there are three phases with specific steps in each phase.

The first phase could be described as “How We Look” updating our Visual Identity and Digital Presence.

The second phase could be described as “How We Sound” using the Rotary Voice with consistent messaging.

The third phase could be described “Driving Action” with our messages, customised for our different audiences.

So, in the First phase, “How We Look”, what are the first steps for us to take?

Update our Club logo so it is clear that we are Rotary, and part of something even bigger than our Club itself.

      • Build An Official Logo in Less Than 5 Minutes:
      • Brand Center at My Rotary

Update our Club website (or create one) so that it has a clear message that accurately represents our Club and Rotary.

      • No website: Suggest Mitty’s landing page offer or some other option like subscribing to DACdb or Club Runner?
      • Existing website:
            • Update template so the website is outward facing and appealing to visitors
        • Include photos that show your Rotarians in action, providing service
        • Include a way to contact you with information on your meetings
        • Clear, simple impactful messaging
        • video with examples of good websites (David Oates script and screen shots ready to produce);

Get our Club on Facebook with new information at least weekly

        • Resources:  videos on Zone website to learn how to create a Facebook page, be a community manager on Facebook, set up a Facebook group, and consider a social media strategy.

Consider all your Rotary Club collateral—brochures, newsletters, banners and flags, signs, shirts, hats…

before ordering anything new, be sure to update the logo and consider the new look and messaging (which come in the next phase).  You don’t have to throw away expensive printed items, but don’t order anything new with the old visual identity or old messaging!

        • Those items that are produced digitally, can be updated now.

From Messaging Toolkit, section 2:

Our messaging is what we say, both verbally and in written form. A unified set of messages can ensure  that no matter who is speaking, and whom we’re communicating with, we always tell a clear,  cohesive version of Rotary’s powerful story. 

Need Closing Comments to encourage the Club to embrace Rotary branding to strengthen their Club, to complete the steps in Phase 1, and to get excited about Phase 2.  Do we have recognition to encourage the Club to adopt earlier than later?  Is the vision clear for what we want them to accomplish?