Does my blue lodge need to have a brand strategy?

Does my blue lodge need to have a brand strategy?

Yes, it does. Branding is everything these days and Freemasonry internationally has a great brand.  But, how do we convert it to your local community? What steps do you need to follow to make certain that the area around your lodge is excited, engaged, and inspired by the Freemasons that attend the lodge regularly?

People in your community should know that the men make up your lodge are…what exactly?

This is the million-dollar question Masons are trying to answer. And the answer is not and cannot be so generalized that no one can really feel like that they can relate to you.

First, before you run off and create a brand for your local blue lodge to have. You need to ask yourself – what is the culture in my lodge?

Are the brothers dressed very formal at the meetings or not?  Are the brothers meeting every week for stated communications and practices or not? Are your brothers very interested in fundraising for community programs or not? Are your brothers more interested in social fellowship based activities when the lodge is not open?

Who makes up your lodge? And who doesn’t make up your lodge too?  There are endless questions to define your local lodge experience. In my home lodge, the biggest question was ‘what color tuxedo coat are we going to wear next year? white or black?  This is a simple question but it really digs into understanding so much of the culture of my home lodge. It was formal and very traditional in the way it did things. But, not all lodges are like this, some lodges are much more casual while others are very formal. Are you starting to get the point of building your brand locally?

Developing a Brand Strategy with the Brothers of your Blue Lodge

Developing a brand strategy is a vital step in creating your blue lodge’s identity. Your brand strategy will act as a blueprint when it comes to developing your marketing strategies and tactics. But, Ed aren’t we a secret society, that should work in the shadows and not use marketing materials?  Well, my question to you is, is that what you want to be? Living in the shadows? Is that what your Grand Lodge wants you to do or not?  If you aren’t certain, call up your Grand Secretary and ask him. I think he might be surprised by your genuine concern to do things right and happily answer your question.

Your branding is also the core of your blue lodge and the brothers need to look at the materials in the lodge and approve them.  The same way they would if you were going to repaint the blue lodge. Getting the brothers’ input and feedback is critical to having a localized strategy.  So what if your meeting runs long, isn’t it better to build up a healthy lodge?

These branding material come from the talks of your brand strategy conversations – it need to address the goals, vision, results, and ways you like to conduct business.  I think a healthy lodge tells new EA brothers that the stated communication is a business meeting where we pay the bills and decide on things that need to get done to the building.

I personally stress to new brothers that the fraternal experience really starts when you leave the lodge building. My branding strategy for my local lodge is two-fold – you learn to become a better man and you are gaining new friendships.

Becoming a better man starts by taking action on what you learned in the degree outside the lodge in life. Further, the friendships are the bond(s) we form to help each other with taking actionable steps to apply what we learned in the degrees. We hold each other accountable in life and we support one another too.

Getting off my soapbox, having a brand strategy keeps your business functional and consistent. An effective branding process will create a unique identity that differentiates you from the competition. Such as the Moose, the Elk, and so on. Your identity is what will keep brothers coming back or the lack of a local identity will create a revolving door in your blue lodge.

What is the purpose of your brand?

Your brand should be created based on your Masonic Lodge’s personality, image, and core characteristics. The impressions you make, and how others perceive your fraternity in the community will lay the basic framework of your branding.

So, what do you want your brand to do for your blue lodge, and what do you want others to say about your fraternity when you are not in front of them? With a strong brand, you will have more influence on your marketing, and you will be able to build your credibility as a fraternity that matters in the community. This should motivate brothers and local residents to want to engage your lodge to invest in the fraternity by way of community service, community involvement, and asking how to become a member of the lodge.

A big part of your branding is the look of your marketing. Everything from your logo to your color schemes all plays a part in your strategy. With the success of your branding strategy weighing so heavily on the look of your branding, it may be best to turn to a professional. This is a good opportunity to engage a brother in your lodge or Masonic District to step up and help you.  A professional can help tie things together and help design the perfect logo for your lodge that includes the square and compass.  A professional can help with establishing the slogan and assist with the layout that can be used throughout your marketing efforts.

Should my lodge host a branding awareness campaign or not?

No, and yes.  I say ‘no’ because you really need to speak with your Grand Lodge to ensure that they are cool with it.  Now, I say ‘yes’ because simply stated, your lodge’ brand awareness is the degree of a brand’s consciousness in the minds of its target audience in the community. Most charities, do fundraisers and special events to keep their target audience aware of their brands which drives donations, a positive community impact in some way, and new membership as well.

So let’s just say, your Grand Lodge is totally cool with the idea that your local blue lodge wants to make new Masons and build a strong positive foothold in the community.  There are a lot of innovative ways you can quickly increase your lodge’s brand awareness. Please keep in mind, I am sharing this information free of charge and only doing so that you can improve your own fraternal experience. As a Past Master of a Masonic Lodge in Florida, we have done some of these steps but not all of them. Why because I worked hard to get my brothers to buy-in to the ideas. I shared numerous ideas knowing some would be rejected versus only sharing one idea and having a fifty-fifty chance of successfully getting the brothers to buy into the idea.

  • Engage the Masons in your lodge that are “influencers” already.  You may have a businessman who knows the players in the community or maybe you have the mayor in your lodge. Talk to them and get them to agree to engage more people in a positive way about the fraternity.
  • Ask local small businesses to display your posters about an upcoming event or how you care for those in need in the community.
  • Try inviting new ‘influencers’ that you meet into your niche is a great way to increase brand awareness and hopefully drive new candidates into the door. These can be radio station talk show hosts, local club leaders, and TV personalities. Am I saying to make them a Mason on sight – NO! What I am saying is to team up with them to get your word out there.
  • Create and use branded packaging. Get a local print shop to make business cards for the lodge officers and brochures for the brothers to help them explain what Freemasonry is doing in and for your local community.
  • Get online, build a website, do your SEO research, and share your website on Social Media
  • Get as many of the brothers in the lodge to ‘share’ or ‘re-post’ your social media branding with their friends online.
  • Get setup on Google Maps as a location and add pictures and content there too
  • Maybe run a small Facebook or Google promoting the successes of your fraternity – such as giving a ton of money to the local children’s home or being awarded something as lodge from the Grand Lodge or your local community leaders.

How long should we be doing this?  All year!?!

No, not all year. Again a brand strategy is essentially a plan with a start and end date. So you can review the results and make adjustments for the next time. A good branding campaign should only last for 2 to 3 months. If your brand awareness campaign less than 30 days, you are reducing the likelihood of your target audience seeing and grasping the message you’re sharing. Remember, people don’t live on Facebook, Instagram, and whatever social media platform even if some people tell you that the younger generation does. Nor, do you want to keep a poster up for years because it starts to look faded too.  Keep it a few months and thank people that engage with you at the end. My final thoughts are that you don’t want your brand awareness campaign to go on longer than 45 days because then you’re running into the risk of your messaging becoming stale or played out.

So what Branding Materials should my Blue Lodge use?

1. Business Cards

  1. Add your logo
  2. Add your tagline
  3. Use the back-of the-business card as an appointment card or print something unique and memorable about your blue lodge
  4. Hand out a few extra business cards in every correspondence with someone so that they can refer you
  5. Create a version of your business card as a sticker for envelopes
  6. Add your social media URLs to the card and the social media logos too
  7. Include your business card in any outbound invoices, correspondence, and give away bags
  8. Have your lodge create a list of referral partners and make sure they have enough business cards to get in their hands
    • These could include relevant businesses, banks, libraries, chamber of commerce offices and so on

2. Letterhead & Envelopes

  1. Add your phrase or tag line on the letterhead and the envelope.
  2. Make custom letterhead personal letters and/or notes for brothers to use regularly
  3. Use your lodge letterhead for printing invoices.
  4. Create note cards as letterhead for more informational communication
  5. Match your envelopes with your letterhead.
  6. Add unusual text on your letterhead and envelopes to make them stand out.
  7. Consider larger branded envelopes for presentations.

4. Brochures

  1. Of course, match the brochures with your branding design
  2. Create a basic brochure but create additional brochures for different age groups of your target audience in your community
  3. Add call-to-action information so prospects can order: email, call, visit, or go to your website
  4. Include any instructions on how to visit and when to visit your lodge
  5. Create an area on the brochure that contains contact info for questions

5. Outdoor Signage

  1. If you have an outdoor sign at your blue lodge make sure that it’s in good shape and visible from a distance.
  2. If not, have the lodge vote on installing one
  3. Keep outdoor signs simple and eye-catching colors
  4. Don’t use ALL CAPS for the entire signage and limited your fonts to 2 styles.
  5. Define each yard sign’s purpose and stick to it.
  6. Consider using door or window decals to clearly display hours of operation.

6. Case Studies

  1. Add some on your website
  2. Choose examples from ideal local target audience that feature your fraternal benefits
  3. Write case studies with a focus on the problem being solved and how your blue lodge solved the problem.
  4. Keep your Masonic case studies short and to the point.
  5. Use your local speaking style versus canned jargon such as  “ASK1 2B1”
  6. Add visuals from your lodge to keep it localized
  7. Link to case studies from your content such as your Masonic Blue Lodge officers’ page or about us page or contact us page
  8. Rotate your case studies on your lodge’s website home page regularly
  9. Pull testimonial quotes from case studies and feature them in your marketing materials and reference the case study is available on your website
  10. Create infographics from case studies and post/promote on social media.
  11. Create videos from your case studies.

7. Testimonials

  1. Use your lodge name and brand name in every testimonial
  2. Select those testimonials that speak directly to your targeted predetermined audience
  3. Feature relevant testimonials on website pages.
  4. Feature testimonials on your Facebook Pages.
  5. Take pictures of written testimonials and upload them as images on your “Google My Business” page.

8. Explanation Video

  1. Create a 90-second video explaining your local lodge
  2. Include a link to your video on your business cards and brochures
  3. Share your ‘explanation’ video on social media
  4. In the video put yourself in your targeted audience’s shoes. Then, imagine you are the audience
    • What opportunity or solution are you offering?
    • What’s the benefit to your viewer?
    • What action do you want them to take?

9. Flyers

  1. Have the lodge agree to create a branded flyer template
  2. Print it on quality glossy style paper
  3. Design individual flyers for each target audience segment
  4. Add testimonials to flyers
  5. Create a PDF of your flyer and send links to brothers so they can email it
  6. Distribute your flyers to your local small businesses.
  7. If you have the time, visit neighborhoods to deliver or leave at the door.
  8. Post online on Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin or Pinterest.

10. Postcards

  1. Have your lodge agree to create a branded postcard design that complements your brochures, cards, and so on
  2. Use postcards as invitations to events.
  3. Use testimonials on your postcard.
  4. Get new homeowners aware of your lodge by using a targeted mailing list or USPS EveryDoor Direct Mail (EDDM).
  5. Distribute postcards to your local businesses.

11. Posters

  1. Once again, have your lodge vote on to create posters templates
  2. State your message in 5 words or less
  3. Highlight your local lodge’s values and mission
  4. Feature a Brother of your lodge
  5. Feature a testimonial
  6. Choose the right location – make it relevant
  7. Create posters focused on how you serve the community
  8. Remember to put your contact info, lodge address, and website name at the bottom of the poster.
  9. Get a highly artistic brother to make the posters

12. T-Shirts

  1. Optimize your logo that is easily embroidered or printed on clothing.
  2. Select pre-approved clothing styles
  3. Agree on the tagline or other branded language on the shirt

13. Promotional Pens, Mugs, Key chains, and more!

  1. Spread the visibility of your brand on useful items like mobile phone battery chargers and jump drives
  2. Have a collection of branded items when visitors and guests can take home.
  3. Have a collection of branded items for special event tables
  4. Include your lodge’s website and logo on these items
  5. Give out branded promotional products throughout the community such as churches, schools, sports leagues, and other civic clubs too.
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