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Time for a Change?

05/01/2017
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By Tom Cecich, CSP, CIH, 2016-17 ASSE President

have been a member of the American Society of Safety Engineers for 44 years. ASSE has been a large part of my professional life, so the idea of changing our name and logo is a bit scary to me. Even though I have an engineering education, I understand that few of our members are engineers and surveys show that some prospective members choose not to join because they think ASSE is an engineering society.

The possibility of changing ASSE’s name has been discussed many times by past boards of directors (BOD). Change is difficult, so it is often easier to defer difficult decisions to future leaders. However, there comes a time when we need to gather and analyze member preferences, then make data-driven decisions. That is where we are today.

We commissioned a study with an expert branding firm (88/Brand Partners) to determine how our members and other stakeholders view our name, logo and tagline. At the same time, we approved a yearlong upgrade in our information technology systems including our website. Our ability to communicate with our members and the outside world will receive a serious (and much-needed) improvement. There was no better time to examine our identity and to study how we express who we are to our members and the public.

Specifically, we wanted to know whether our members, potential members and customers understand who we are and what we do. How do current members and OSH professionals identify with our organization, from our name and logo to our key messages? Do future and potential members recognize ASSE as a relevant resource, particularly since attracting young professionals is critical to our future? How can we increase awareness and recognition of ASSE and its members within industry and among business leaders?

To answer these questions, 88/Brand’s experts engaged with our members, customers and potential members to gather quantitative and qualitative data on a range of issues. They assessed attitudes toward ASSE’s name and logo, gathered reactions to proposed new names and logo concepts, explored preferences regarding colors, imagery and messaging, and researched how a name or logo change would affect perceptions of the Society.

The findings were compelling. With respect to the organization’s name, members shared concerns about the word engineers in the Society’s name, noting that the word does not reflect the diverse makeup of our membership. Among potential names tested, those that include the word professional performed best. International members view the word American as an asset. In addition, members told us a name change would help eliminate confusion about who could join the Society. 

Research on the current logo revealed mixed perceptions. Members believe the logo, especially the shield shape and cross, is well known and recognizable, yet bland and outdated, especially the arrangement of letters within the shield and the color combination.

Overall, the research was viewed as a signal of our dedication to moving forward with a clear vision as well as of our understanding of the need to be relevant to future OSH professionals. Ultimately, the research led to two recommendations: 1) Change the organization’s name to American Society of Safety Professionals. 2) Adopt a new logo. The BOD voted unanimously on Jan. 31, 2017, to adopt these recommendations.

These recommendations will now go before our elected member representatives at the House of Delegates (HOD) on June 19 as motions to change the Society’s name and logo. If the HOD approves the name change motion, then all members will be asked to vote on that change as well in an e-mail ballot.

I encourage you to visit our microsite—www.assp.org/ourstory—where you will see the proposed logo and find information about the research that led to these recommendations. You will also find a link to help you contact your delegate to share your thoughts about these proposed changes. You can also send an e-mail to brandfeedback@asse.org.

The BOD believes the future is now. Changing our name and logo are bold, significant proposals that we believe will position our organization for the future. Please review the microsite and the resulting proposals and voice your preferences. I think it is the right time for a change but in the end we will make the decision for our Society together.

 

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