Setting Clear Strategy for the OCA

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Setting Clear Strategy for the OCA

The Ontario Camps Association (OCA) approached The Connected Brand to better understand the changing needs of their membership, increase awareness of the OCA standards with Ontario families and respond to the increasing need to advocate in the public sector for the camping category. 

The OCA represents a wide range of member camp organizations and ensures the highest standards for safety and care are in place through it's rigorous accreditation processes.

In order to build a brand strategy for the organization and capture the voices and needs of their wide array of stakeholders, we used a variety of input methods: 

  • Workshops with an appointed working group of members to determine the attributes and challenges of the organization, a profile of each stakeholder, and a portrait of the competitive landscape. 
  • Surveys to each stakeholder group to assess needs, emotional connections with member organizations and, in the case of the public, awareness of the OCA. 
  • Social Media engagement to understand the emotional connections on a wider scale 
  • A set of 1-1 and panel stakeholder interviews to get a deeper understanding the OCA brand and where it needs to go to resonate with each stakeholder group. 


Together with the working group, Brand Strategy and Customer journey tools were created and then approved by the Board of Directors. From these documents we created a comprehensive marketing plan for the next 24 months. The Connected Brand continues to work with the OCA on how to best deploy these emerging initiatives. 

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Promise Me This

Your brand promise sets the bar for every interaction with your stakeholders. It is the mark against which we measure every tactic and touchpoint. It is our single, greatest brand building tool.

  • Make a clear, emotional promise
  • Deliver on this promise – every time, everywhere
  • Build a culture that supports and delivers on this promise

Some people don’t like the term “promise” because it sounds so encompassing and immovable. And yet the very reason they shy away from this term is why we use it. No one wants to break a promise. And an organization that shies away from making a clear, emotional promise almost always suffers from negative brand associations.

Brand building is challenging. We don’t control what our customers and prospects think or feel and it’s impossible to satisfy everyone 100% of the time. We can only strive to create experiences that exceed their expectations. And by doing so, we create powerful and positive emotions about our organization.

It is quite possible to create a culture that strives to meet or exceed our audience’s expectations. It is this very striving for excellence that defines the best brands. Our brand promise becomes the line in the sand that we can hold every part of our organizations accountable against. 

Our promise can be about speed and quality of service. It can be about a caring and considerate approach to our customers. It can be about always standing behind our offering, products, service or mission. It has to be something that matters to our constituents and it has to be an emotional promise. It's not about making a great computer; it's about promising something emotional and aspirational – a lifestyle, surpassing limitations, and changing the world.

Almost every organization on the planet has some policy, process or program in place to improve service. And yet, very few organizations are actively building brands that connect and resonate with their audience. They are treating service as if it only matters to the front line and call centre staff. If we silo our promise, it will show. We are quick to spot platitudes and marketing talk designed to make us feel like someone cares, but really they just want our dollars.

An interesting shorthand for how well our organization is meeting expectations is trust. Think about the people in your life who you trust and don’t trust. Odds are that the people you trust are people that consistently do what they say. In other words, they act in a way that is fair and meets your expectations. If someone in your organizations tells me that they will get back to me by end of day tomorrow, do they? If I call in, do I feel like my concerns matter? When I send a cheque, do I feel like my contribution matters? What if I attempt to communicate with your organization via social media?

I like to go to lunch with 5 key stakeholders and ask them how trustworthy my organization is, in their eyes. Would they let my organization watch their car for a day? They might laugh, but I press on. Would they give my organization (not me) their car keys for an afternoon? What about their money? Their pet cat?

Our brand is built by continuously meeting the expectations of our stakeholders. And not just where it matters to our bottom line. We have to prove to our constituents that we value them over just their wallets. 

This is why our brand promise is so critical. We can’t meet expectations we haven’t set or defined. We certainly can’t operationalize to deliver on something we haven’t defined. And finally, we can’t manage client expectations if we aren’t clear on what we are capable or willing to promise them.

Our Brand promise becomes the mark by which we measure everything we do and how we build a powerful brand that can help us to change the world and connect emotionally to our constituents.

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