MSAE held its 60th Annual Meeting & Expo in the Minneapolis Convention Center last week where buyers and sellers in the meetings and conventions industry convened for workshops, social events and a tradeshow.
When I entered the Minneapolis Convention Center to attend the Annual Meeting & Expo, the name of the sponsoring association was the Midwest Society of Association Executive’s MSAE. By the time we all left, the Midwest Society of Association Executives had been rebranded to Associations North.
Rebranding from the Midwest Society of Association Executives to Associations North was more than just for the purpose of the economy of words. According to the newly elected Associations North board chair Ann Kvall, “it allows us to simplify how we talk about this great organization and conveys our essential value of ‘advancement’ to the wider association community.”
“Moving Professionals Forward” is the accompanying tagline that Associations North selected to reinforce the intent of the rebranding. It has the dual meaning of identifying Association North’s geographic footprint while also indicating the focus on facilitating professional and personal development and improvement.
Destination marketing organizations (DMOs) have also addressed the issue of simplification. In the early 2000s the Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) commissioned research to study the relevance and future of DMOs. While the research resulted in many prognostications regarding services that DMOs may or may not continue to provide in the future, an interesting finding was the lack of receptivity to terms in the names of DMOs like bureau, council, agency or association. These terms did not resonate with meeting and event planners or individual visitors since they sounded governmental and bureaucratic and unwelcoming to those seeking assistance.
Meet Minneapolis was an early leader in that simplification philosophy when in 2006 the Greater Minneapolis Convention & Visitors Association, Inc. became Meet Minneapolis. The “nickname” we selected also was a call to action for those considering us as a destination. Many other DMOs have followed suit over the years with creative monikers like: Visit Charlotte, Destination DC, Experience Columbus, Discover Newport and Tourism Toronto.
The process Association North used was inclusive and thorough and seems to have landed in a good place. It may take some time for the new name to catch on, since the previous name has been around since 1960. But I’m optimistic that it will become second nature soon. Congratulations and good luck to the Association North board and staff!