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What’s Behind NAWLA’s Rebranding Strategy

During the recent NAWLA Traders Market, the North American Wholesale Lumber Association unveiled an intricate, colorful new logo as the centerpiece of an expansive rebranding campaign. asked outgoing association chair...

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During the recent NAWLA Traders Market, the North American Wholesale Lumber Association unveiled an intricate, colorful new logo as the centerpiece of an expansive rebranding campaign. asked outgoing association chair David Bernstein, Mid-State Lumber Corp., Branchburg, N.J., and executive director Scott Parker for the full story.

BP: Tell us about the rebranding process that led to the new look.

Bernstein: Over the last three years, NAWLA has been talking about how to give back to this community. We had some surpluses and wanted to reinvest in different membership programs. We came up with three primary concepts: the branding, the YELP (Young Emerging Lumber Professionals) program, and the scholarship program. All these things came to fruition this past year.

BP: NAWLA had its previous logo for a while. Did you feel the old logo did not reflect your new goals?

Bernstein: Exactly. We contracted with a professional firm, Forestel, which took a lot of our feedback and came up with new concepts.

Parker: We formed a small committee and looked at five different versions for a new logo. The one that we released at Traders Market just kept coming to the top. The group made a recommendation to the board of directors.

BP: What is the goal of the new logo and rebrand?

Parker: The logo is just one aspect of the overall rebranding project. What we’re really looking to do is start competing with other industries for that next generation of workers, to attract the most qualified people. As we step into 2020, we want to get across that our industry is not about just cutting down trees; there are supply chain people, marketing people, finance people. There are a lot of great jobs and a lot of great people in this industry. We want that next set of people coming into the workforce to understand that this is a heck of an industry to get into.

Bernstein: At the Traders Market opening luncheon, (presenter) Jamie Clarke said he heard some of our constituents say our industry isn’t sexy. He pointed out that we are in one of the sexiest industries: shelter. We provide shelter to the world. It’s vital for everyone’s survival. Their first instinct is shelter. We must bring that to the forefront and make people more aware of all the great things we do and, like Scott said, all the different jobs that are available. No matter what you’re interested in—biology, chemistry, finance, sales, it doesn’t matter—this industry has something for everyone.

BP: NAWLA recently celebrated its 125-year anniversary. Share how you’re evolving while staying true to your roots.

Bernstein: NAWLA remains the North American Wholesale Lumber Association. Through all the changes we’ve implemented, there’s no intention to get away from our commitment to wholesalers and their partners throughout North America.

Looking at the new logo, it tells me one story, but it may tell you another story. I see a global community. I see branches reaching out to the sky instilled with a deep-rooted foundation, yet everything comes together in the center, the tree’s trunk: the wholesaler community. The fonts that have been chosen are a little softer than just bold capital letters; we believe this is a bit more inviting to today’s job seekers.

BP: What do you see for NAWLA over the next decade?

Bernstein: I’m hopeful that 10 years down the road the programs continue, expand and evolve. It would be cool if 10 years from now we can look back at the first YELP class and see how the relationships between those individuals have continued on—to see their successes and where they end up, as they move from one state to another, one business to another, or even into another industry, to see how they continue to bond, talk and rely on each other.

Likewise, I hope NAWLA can continue to award scholarships and that there are enough qualified applicants who are deserving of them. In the near future, we will roll out a website for job postings by NAWLA members. It will be neat to see how many people actually get their jobs through this new website of ours.

BP: What’s the one thing that absolutely can’t change?

Bernstein: Our commitment to the wholesale community.

Parker: Our branding campaign has a name: “Many Branches, One Industry.” As David said, the trunk that all the branches and roots come back to is the wholesalers. That’s what NAWLA will always stay true to. The branches represent many things—our YELP program, scholarships, branding campaign, the diversity of people coming into our industry, and the diversity of associations we work with. I think that “Many Branches, One Industry” will help guide us going forward.