"Branding" and Freemasonry
Many of us display Masonic symbols on our cars, wear rings and pins and don a variety of apparel which indicate our proud affection to our Craft. Are we displaying our brand, the brand of Freemasonry ?
The term “brand”, as a noun, is defined as “a kind or variety of something distinguished by some distinctive characteristic”, or “a particular product or a characteristic that serves to identify a particular product”. Some of the key characteristics of successful brands are said to include products that offer great value; are relevant for today; have a solid reputation; are meaningfully different, have personality and offer a good experience. Successful brands continue to renew themselves and adapt to change and circumstances around them while maintaining their core values and purpose. It is said that most brands are as good as their last experience, and those which meet the needs of their consumers will cultivate loyalty and goodwill.
Is Freemasonry a “Brand”?? We certainly share many of the attributes of good brands. In fact, the Compasses and Square are trademarked in our Grand Jurisdiction. They are recognizable globally, but is it clear what that trademarked symbol stands for? Our candidates are given an explanation, and our members understand what they represent. Freemasonry uses symbols to teach, and as such, “our brand” has primarily been used by and intended for our membership. Historically, Freemasonry has not been accountable to those outside our circles, and for good reason. In modern times, this has changed significantly. Our families, partners, co-workers and peers simply do not accept “it’s a secret” anymore when inquiring about Freemasonry, and why should they? If we claim to be a legitimate and relevant aspect of the communities in which we operate, we should be able to speak confidently about what it is we stand for and what we profess to do. We do not need to do so in an effort to attract members or justify our existence, but perhaps to extoll the values and tenets that make us proud to be part of the world’s oldest fraternity. When we wear our brand on ball-caps, clothing , and jewelry ; as we raise funds for worthwhile charitable causes, and when we claim that we “make good men better”, should we not be able to offer a credible and intelligent explanation of what being a mason is all about?
Our brand stands for particular values, tenets and principles which have stood the
test of time; words of encouragement and affirmation that have influenced change within individuals and societies; and acts and deeds which have built communities over the centuries. Our brand looks inwards, towards the self, and when cultivated from within, can be effectively applied outwardly, towards building better Lodges, Districts, communities and country.
Perhaps Freemasonry should not be viewed as “a product”, but the analogy could serve us well to examine the various aspects of what it is that we offer to our members. Do we offer good value, and are we relevant to our brethren? What is our reputation like? Are we any different than most service clubs and social groups? The answer to those questions can only be gleaned by careful consideration of the overall experience of our members.
If it is about the product, then we should be able to speak confidently about the fellowship and mutual support among a vast network of membership; about leadership development, public speaking opportunities, about a safe and sacred place to contemplate the challenges of life, and take pride in meeting with men who share common values and ethics. We can be proud that, indeed, we are contributing to our communities in meaningful ways by strengthening our brand.
WE are the brand, and we represent Freemasonry. Like most brands, it is the product that proves the test of value, usefulness, and reputation. Obviously we take pride in
the unique opportunities provided by the legacy that is Freemasonry. It compels us to practice those important and useful lessons inculcated within the sanctity of our Lodge rooms, and to ultimately become the brand. I think we can all agree that the high calling of our Craft constantly challenges us to live up to the value and esteem portrayed by those symbols.
We have a good reputation, we can offer good value and unique experiences, and yes, we are certainly relevant for today world, perhaps more-so than ever. We are distinctively different. Let us use our “personality” and our “passion” to be the brand and demonstrate that we stand for something tried and true, and continue to offer a great opportunity for a life-long journey of discovery and self-improvement ... today and beyond.
R.W Bro. G. Charles Singh, PDDGM, Ottawa 2