The following blog post was written by Lowell Aplebaum, CAE, strategic facilitator and leadership developer. It originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse

By providing the right solutions for key challenges and opportunities for core industry audiences, associations strive to create member loyalty. Historically, you would walk a meeting floor and see a proud display of association pins on lapels – bearing the organizational logo, or a theme of a specific conference or group. These were proud displays of affiliation – pins that members would take home and display at local industry events, at gatherings of their professional colleagues.

Over recent conversations with friends on the future of work and generation shifts, one discussion circled to how the idea of wearing a lapel pin as a display of organizational pride seems to be fading – particularly amongst those earlier in their careers. Two examples came to mind of how associations are touching the heart of key member/industry identifiers and creating the desire to proudly wear those today:

1. Brewer’s Association: Take Craft Back

Whether you are a full time-brewer, a home brewer, or even someone who just has a passion for craft beer, you are drawn into a heated debate each time a macro-producer acquires a craft brewery. Did they sell out? Does expanded distribution and more capital mean that the brewery will actually get even better? For many, there is a feeling of loss and even anger – how can those just starting, experimenting, pushing the limits of the passion of brewing, hope to succeed in the face of multi-billion dollar competitors.

Enter the #BrewersAssociation and their Take Craft Back campaign. This four-minute video is worth the watch: 


You can also see the full campaign!

By speaking to a key industry concern, but addressing face-on that which speaks to the hearts of members and their consumers alike, and by doing so in a serious, yet tongue-in-tongue fashion, the Brewers Association is garnering grassroots engagement. Make a pledge – we may never collect – but we have your commitment and support. And in return, when I made such a pledge? Look what came in the mail:

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No shipping, no second ask – just a sign that I am a part of a larger whole. And since wearing it, I have been asked about it dozens of times, spreading the message and the cause.

2. American Mensa

I love what #AmericanMensa has done with their own campaign. Intelligence, at the highest capacity, can sometimes lead to life experiences of bullying, of being an other, for that intelligence. American Mensa allows those that share a unique attribute – their high IQ – to come together to find community, to find acceptance, to find challenge and growth and friendship. Their organization is just one example where there is pride in what is a differentiator – being smart is cool. And let’s be honest, whether you are a member or not – if you are an association lifer, who would not want this shirt they created:

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The approach, the campaign if you will, has been embraced particularly by their younger membership. It is a source of pride and connection. And with it is built a sense of loyalty to American Mensa for recognizing and lauding that which, all too often, is just seen as different and other.

What other examples have you seen of associations building authentic organizational evangelists who share their organization’s campaign and mission with pride? Is it still a lapel pin? Or is it something different? Please share so that as we each think about how we build loyalty, how we help the member story become intertwined with the organization story, we discover together how we can connect with that which is core to who our members are, and share that with the world.