BSA Brand Analysis
Company branding is extremely important whether it is a private or nonprofit entity. For a company to stand out from its competitors, they must carefully craft a solid brand and marketing campaign to reach their intended audience. For a nonprofit company, it is not only imperative, but vital to its survival that their brand stand out. Relying on donations, fundraising, and grants, a company must stand out as a leader to gain the attention and funds necessary for survival. If the brand fails to gain an audience, the nonprofit company is at risk of closure. A successful brand and marketing plan can be illustrated by the Boy Scouts of America (hereinafter the BSA). Their organization was founded in the United States over one hundred years ago. As an example of success, this paper will analyze their purpose, their brand and marketing plan, marketing guidelines, how they communicate their brand, rules regarding their brand identity, benefits of the plan, disadvantages of the plan, and any changes that could be made for improvement.
Boy Scouts of America was founded in 1910 as a youth organization for boys. Today they have 2.4 million registered participants and over one million volunteers (About Us, n.d.). There are a wide range of age divisions within the BSA based on age. They range from Cub Scouts for the youngest boys, Scouts BSA for young teenagers, and Sea Scouting and Venturing crew for teenagers through young adults (About Us, n.d.).
Each division, though separate, are all connected by the same set mission statement “prepared for life” (About Us, n.d.). The goals within the organization, and for their members, all focus on demonstrating the mission statement. The numerous activities members participate in support of the mission statement center on character development, outdoor skills, education programs, self-reliance, and for the older members, career education.
BSA Brand and Marketing Plan
The BSA brand has been carefully constructed over the years. The tan shirt and neckerchief have long been considered a badge of honor and can be considered the most recognizable uniform due to a well-planned marketing strategy. BSA is cognizant of the recognition the uniform receives and is diligent in their marketing to ensure not only their members, but also the public, know what the BSA mission statement is (BSA Brand Identity; Telling the Scouting Story, n.d.).
Through a specific brand campaign, the BSA has been able to reach millions of people in the United States. The persuasive marketing campaign they employ positively affects recruitment and retention (Marketing, n.d. p. 2). A very specific time table is used to guide troops and councils through the recruitment process (Marketing, n.d., p. 2). The marketing campaign material that is distributed to the councils and troop leaders guides them through how to successfully plan their marketing strategy. The BSA marketing guide addresses the numerous ways to reach their targeted audience through various forms of media (Marketing n.d. pp. 4-5). It also addresses how to specifically use persuasive marketing methods to market for the various divisions of the BSA.
As part of the persuasive marketing campaign, there is a focus on their brand position, personality, and communication elements. This, in effect, creates a marketing theme for the BSA to follow as recruitment and retention tools. “The beauty of the theme is its simplicity and directness” (Boy Scouts of America Brand Identity Guide, n.d. p. 5). The focus for the brand position emphasizes “single mindedness, endurance, timelessness, differentiation and staking out territory” (Boy Scouts of America Brand Identity Guide, n.d., p. 5). The brand personality focuses on “trustworthiness, adventurousness, patriotism, and faith” (Boy Scouts of America Brand Identity Guide, n.d. p. 5). Communication elements focus on “adventure, leadership, learning, and service” (Boy Scouts of America Brand Identity Guide, n.d. p. 5). By defining the above listed characteristics that the brand represents, it is easy to use those characteristics to teach members the BSA’s expectations and then reciprocate the characteristics to members of the public. By doing this, the public has an acute awareness of what the BSA brand is and how it is defined.
The BSA brand ideals, which support generations of youth, can be demonstrated through the mission statement “prepared. For Life, is the culmination of the effort that goes into delivering on the brand promise, vision, and mission” (Corporate Brand, n.d.). The mission statement is enforced to propagate the brand through strict guidelines. According to authors Laidler-Kylande and Stenzel (2013) “a strong brand image often combines an instantly recognizable visual image with a clear understanding of what the organization is, does, and stands for” (p. 72). The visual images and understanding of the brand are found in their advertising, as well as a variety of places through the scout uniform, social media, and photography. Each of the mediums has guidelines to better promote their brand and put it to the forefront visually.
The BSA has an image and reputation of familiarity and trust that is solidified with the scout uniform. Among the different badges on the uniform, the common factor is the “visual language” which follow the guidelines of trust through the various colors (Overview, n.d.). The visual language is defined by the digital guidelines with a designated color palette used for creating fliers and photography. The photography guidelines are put in place to create and inspire an active visual representation of scouting to gravitate potential scouts to the brand and the BSA itself. This visual language continues with other advertisement brand strategies for online use.
Social media guidelines were created to aid members in advertising and, more specifically, for the protection of youths while communicating on social media. The social media guidelines for youth safety are listed to create a positive, safe, and productive environment. Specifically, the guidelines state members are expected to treat others with kindness, private information is to remain private (by understanding what is put on the internet remains there), and those in leadership positions recognize they are part of the BSA brand; therefore, they should conduct themselves as a representation of the organization (BSA Social Media Guidelines, n.d.).
The BSA conveys a fun atmosphere by creating opportunities for growth and helps member develop the tools to better navigate life. For BSA to create a fun interactive environment for youths they must promote “the use of brand guidelines and principles rather than enforcing strict brand controls... When the brand is aligned with the mission, values, and strategy, it creates clear parameters for how to talk about and use the brand” (Laidler-Kylande & Stenzel, 2013, p. 91). With brand guidelines in place, a strong foundation with both internal and external factors should be considered for better understanding and communication.
BSA Brand Communication
For any organization to understand their brand identity and to communicate that message to others, actors, or stakeholders there are certain foundations and fundamental understandings to be considered internally before any external factors are considered. Like other organizations, the BSA knows the two concepts that lay the foundation to better communicate their brand are the “concepts of differentiation and positioning are key tenets of strategic marketing and essential precursors to effective brand management. Positioning is how you communicate that differentiation to create the desired perception, or brand image, relative to other players, in the minds of the target audiences” (Laidler-Kylande & Stenzel, 2013, p. 37). Nonprofits need to know their advantages and disadvantages and how it separates them from other organizations. This differentiation makes them unique and positions them above their competitors (Laidler-Kylande & Stenzel, 2013, p. 38). It provides potential scouts or their parents to view their services as the most beneficial for them or their loved ones.
Technology advances daily to reach these potential participants via social media and is on the rise. “External audiences are increasingly relying on information that comes from their own experience or from other individuals via social networks rather than from the organization directly” (p. 73). The BSA understands the reality of the rise of social media and offers recruitment for scouts through local schools for current scout members to communicate the brand, share their experience, and to present them to the program. Within social media the BSA has used the #sharescouting hashtag on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to start and continue a dialogue about their services, organization, and to recruit by uniting the world from computer to real-life (Recruitment Archives, n.d.).
BSA Brand Identity Rules
The BSA has very clear and concise rules about how their brand is to be presented. On the website page, BSA Brand Identity, a full overview of these rules is available with pictures of all materials that are trademarked, copyrighted, or registered with the U.S. Patent Office. Included, are the brand’s logo, corporate signature, activity graphic, and tagline. On the website, specific examples are shown as to how you may present these and how they may be altered and not altered.
By having these regulations in place and readily available, the BSA has a brand that is instantly recognizable and consistent across the country. In 2016 there was a reported 2.3 million members in the BSA (Thoet, 2017). A corporation of this size benefits from having strict regulations and guidelines on identity usage simply for the fact that with so many members spread across such a large geographic area it is important to have consistency and easy brand recognition.
BSA Brand Plan Advantages
The BSA has done an excellent job protecting their identity brand so that throughout the country, anyone involved or associated with them will be instantly recognizable. They also provide information on how to properly use their identity so that its members can properly display the logos, graphics, taglines, etc. By allowing all their members this information, they make sure that their brand is protected from copying or duplication attempts while also creating uniformity across a very large group that spreads across the country.
The biggest asset to the BSA is their brand recognition. In states and cities across the country the groups can instantly be recognized while in uniform. By having uniformity throughout its advertising, uniforms, operating procedures, etc. it allows the small groups to be equal and to come together with the same training and experiences
BSA Brand Plan Disadvantages
Brand strategy should align with the core beliefs of an organization. There is no mention of inclusion for all within the organization in the brand strategy. This is even considering recent policy changes within the organization that now allows for gay (2013), transgender (2017), and female (2019) members of America, to join the ranks (Salam, 2018). While the inclusions are historic for an organization that started back 1910, it is not included in the brand strategy.
BSA Suggestions and Conclusion
According to Laidler-Kylander and Stenzel, organizations should take stock of other organizations within their space to better understand their place in the world (2014, pg 124). There is no mention of partnerships with different organizations. One natural partner would be the Girl Scouts of America (GSA). A strong partnership could be created by partnering the two organizations and rebrand them as a scouting organization that accepts all genders, races, and sexualities of Americans to forge a stronger nation. However, the leader of the GSA sees the BSA’s inclusion of girls as a threat to her organizations sending a letter to the head of BSA urging him to keep is focus on boys (Salam, 2018). The GSA feeling like the BSA are infringing on the recruitment base sends the wrong message to the youth of America. For an organization already seeing declining membership, a public feud between two similar organizations is not advantageous for either scouting club.
In conclusion, the BSA has a very strong brand identity. The organization’s strict guidelines help distinguish it among its brethren of youth organizations. It is one of the longest lasting youth organizations in the country with a well laid plan for its brand. The BSA has done well to understand the rise of not only the internet, but also social media. They use this to their advantage to reach not on their members, but numerous potential members as well. While they are adapting to technology, they struggle to adapt their values with the changing values of the American population. As they slowly adapt to the changing values, they will easily adapt their brand and continue its longevity.
About Us. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.scouting.org/about/
BSA Brand Identity; Telling the Scouting Story. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://scoutingwire.org/bsa-brand-center/brand-identity/brand-identity/overview/
Boy Scouts of America Brand Identity Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved from
BSA Social Media Guidelines. (n.d.). Retrieved from
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Marketing. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Overview. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Recruitment Archives. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.scouting.org/tag/recruitment/
Salam, M. (2018, May 03). Boy Scouts Will Drop the 'Boy' in Its Namesake Program, as It
Welcomes Girls Next Year. Retrieved February 11, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/02/us/boy-scouts-girls.html
Thoet, A. (2017, October 11). The Boy Scouts say they will now admit girls. Here's what that
means. Retrieved from https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/boy-scouts-say-will-now-admit-girls-heres-means