Take Your Group to 2.0: The Components of a Mac User Group Identity

User Groups 2.0

Even if you don’t consider your Mac User Group to be a business, you can still take plenty of ideas and practices from the business world and apply them to your group. One of the most important aspects of being in business today is branding. Having people know you helps define great organizations from less-than-great ones, and that all starts with branding. While branding and identity are two different things, you have to have one before you can start to to the other. When we think of 2.0 user groups the first thing that comes to mind is that they have an identity already established and have moved well into branding themselves.


Why Do You Need An Identity?
It is amazing how often we hear that question. Simply put, you will want your organization to have some name recognition in not just your local community, but in the larger Mac User Group community and beyond. If you invite a guest to speak, request review software or ask for vendor support, you want them to know that they are dealing with an established, organized entity, not some guy named Dave operating out of his basement.

Create An Identity
What does your group want to be? You can spend all day discussing the goals of a group, short and long term, but how do you want to be known to the world? You’ve probably got an acronym and that can be a start. How unique is it? For example, we know multiple groups with the acronym “SMUG.” Some use it effectively, some don’t, but it is hardly unique once you step outside the local region for that group.

On the other hand, groups like the Los Angeles Final Cut Pro User Group (LAFCPUG) do quite well with their acronym because of the rather unique pronunciation: “laugh-C-pug.”

Most groups decide to incorporate the name of their geographic location. That’s a good thing if it is a well known city, state, territory or even country, but you don’t wed yourself to that. Consider the Silicon Mountain Macintosh User Group. Even though it is a variation on the popular “SMUG” there is not much chance of getting them confused with the others.

No matter what direction you decide to take, try to make your identity as unique as possible.

Get A Logo
If you think a logo isn’t important you clearly haven’t been paying attention to Apple for the last, say, 31 years. Or eBay…or Google…or Nike…or Intel…the list goes on and one. As you can tell from those examples, the logo can be just the name with stylized and/or colored text (Google, eBay, Intel) or an image (Apple, Nike). You know these and many more at a glance. Wouldn’t you like your organization to have that kind of recognition within your sphere of operation?

When designing your logo, make sure that you consider all the uses it may be put to, including newsletter printing, your web site, business cards, t-shirts, sweat shirts, polo shirts, flyers, banners, etc. If it is too complex, it can get lost when you make it small, on a business card for example. If it has too many colors it can cost you a fortune to have it properly reproduced on a business card or an embroidered shirt. Also, make sure that you do not use the Apple logo or any other Apple trademarked image or design, past or present. (Yes, you get tired of reading that; we get tired of writing it. So stop already!) If you are proud of your organization, you’ll want to make it your own, with your own, unique logo.
Get A Tag Line
You might be the largest Macintosh User Group in Alabama or the oldest Macintosh User Group in Hawaii, or the only Macintosh User Group in Antarctica. Whatever it is, a tag line can help establish your identity by being descriptive, outspoken, or fun. Include it in your email signatures, on your web site and anywhere else that makes sense.

Use Your Identity
Once you decide on your identity, logo and tag line, then use them! Have group gear (t-shirts, polo shirts, caps) produced by a local vendor or check out Cafe Press to gauge interest and get started. Don’t expect to make money on the merchandise, at least not right away. View it as advertising and be happy with covering your costs. Get your business cards printed and include your new identity, and update your web site with the information.

While we won’t advocate tattooing anyone (yet), don’t miss an opportunity to put your identity in front of the people you are trying to reach. That’s how you take the next step, from identity to branding, and keep your group on the path to achieving 2.0 success.

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