Branding - November 2017
Bonnie Sherman Weber, president of Six Flags Magic Mountain, chairs the IAAPA Branding Task Force. Funworld asked Weber to share insights into the project and what the task force has learned so far.
What is the branding project and why is IAAPA taking this on?
The association has grown tremendously in the past two decades and as the attractions industry diversified, so has IAAPA’s membership. At the same time, IAAPA has evolved into a truly global organization. Because of these changes, the IAAPA board of directors decided it was time to reevaluate our brand to see if it, too, needed to change and evolve. In the 2016-2018 IAAPA Strategic Plan, the board established a goal to define and strengthen IAAPA’s brand on both global and regional levels. They approved the development of a member-led task force to study the IAAPA brand and recommend enhancements to ensure it accurately reflects the IAAPA of today and
tomorrow. The nine-member task force comprises veteran attractions industry marketing and branding experts from a variety of facilities all over the world.
Who is helping IAAPA facilitate this project?
After an extensive search, we selected a global branding agency, Brandimage, to be our partner in this important effort. Brandimage has offices in 12 cities around the world and has been a great help in guiding us through the project so far.
How will this project benefit the association?
We want to bring the IAAPA brand to life in more compelling ways and more closely align the association’s identity with that of the global attractions industry. Our goal is to better define the IAAPA brand (where it is today and where the association strategically wants it to be in the future) and assess and improve its relevance among all stakeholders, including regions, constituencies, and professional disciplines. We also want to establish a strategic structure to more clearly and effectively reinforce the brand in our ongoing activities and communications. Ultimately, it’s about concisely defining what IAAPA is, and how people can benefit from being engaged with the association as we begin our next 100 years of supporting, protecting, and promoting the global attractions industry.
What steps has the task force taken so far?
Once we hired Brandimage, we embarked on our first official task … a deep dive into what people think about IAAPA and the IAAPA brand today. We wanted a broad understanding from a variety of people: members, nonmembers, those who attend IAAPA events and those who don’t, people from all regions around the world, and operators of parks, zoos, family entertainment centers, manufacturers and suppliers (M&S), etc. We also wanted to understand if perspectives varied by the amount of time a company had been in business or the role people played in their companies. We launched an extensive research study in February and were thrilled with the level of participation—2,208 people responded! This robust sample of data provided the critical insights we needed to get to work.
We learned a great deal, developing an understanding of the three key functions people want from IAAPA:
1. To see what’s new and exciting
2. To network and learn from others
3. To get information about what’s happening in the industry
M&S members made it clear they also needed IAAPA to help them sell their companies’ products and services. People also said they wanted to be inspired, feel connected, and grow professionally because of their involvement in the association. We learned there is high-level awareness for the association and 87 percent of those surveyed referred to the association as “IAAPA” rather than by using the full and official name, the “International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.” Thirty-two percent of those surveyed think the IAAPA logo is outdated. Surprisingly, but very encouraging, there was consistency across the survey respondents when it came to their most important perspectives on the IAAPA brand.
Based on the results of the initial research, we worked with Brandimage to develop and test several different directions for the IAAPA brand of the future. That work will continue through the end of the year. Then, we will use those results to formulate our final recommendations to the board, which we plan to introduce during IAAPA Attractions Expo 2018.
Where might we see changes because of this work?
With a more clearly defined IAAPA brand, the goal is to positively influence our association as we begin our next 100 years. Based on the first few phases of the project, I suspect you will see some impactful changes in how we talk about the association and all it offers our members and the industry around the world. We are also working closely with the IAAPA Strategic Planning Committee and team involved in designing our new global headquarters office in Orlando, as we believe some of the insights gathered through the branding project will be helpful as we plan for the physical future location of IAAPA.