You would never use this logo, so why do so many Rotarians continue to use this one?

In a mid-April email to District leaders, RI President Holger Knaack and President-Elect Shekhar Mehta wrote that, “Over the next several months, we’ll ask Rotary, Rotaract and Interact clubs to update their logos to align with (Rotary International’s) brand standards.”

If you are confused by what the RI leaders are talking about, that’s not surprising.

Eight years after Rotary’s rebranding, many Rotary clubs continue to use a previous version of Rotary’s mark of excellence (wheel). An informal survey of a sample of club websites in our District shows that about half continue to use the MOE that was retired in 2013.

That’s when RI modernized its branding, which is something that happens with many organizations. Well-known brands such as Pepsi Cola, VISA and Starbucks have evolved their brands over time.

And this is not the first time that the RI brand has changed, as you can see in the graphic at the beginning of this article.

Clubs are encouraged to use only the new branding on websites, in print documents and signage, and on social media.

In their email, President Holger and PE Shekhar pointed out that, “Repeated and consistent use of our logos builds global recognition of what we do. Consistently using a unified bond signals to the public—including potential members and donors—that local clubs are supporting the community and those clubs are part of the global Rotary network.”

“Studies show that consistent logo use builds organizational trust and awareness,” Rotary brand specialist Liz Thiam writes in an article on the RI blog Rotary Voices. “When a club logo isn’t used properly it can create confusion and mistrust.”

In another Rotary Voices article, the vice-chair of the RI Communications Committee,  Amanda Wendt (RC of Melbourne, Australia), writes, “In today’s world, individuals are constantly bombarded by thousands of advertising messages. It’s vital that we have a consistent, high-quality visual presentation of our brand to cut through all that noise.”

McDonald’s is an example of a company with a brand recognized worldwide. When people see the golden arches, they know exactly what they will get: an environment that’s comfortable for families, affordable prices and food prepared the same way every time.

RI’s brand reflects who we are as well as who we want to be.

The new brand consists of the familiar wheel, which is now shown in a single colour, with the word Rotary on the left.

The use of this logo is limited to Rotary International, but forms the basis from which Rotary, Rotaract and Interact clubs can create their own club logo. The Rotary wheel (the mark of excellence) should never be used by itself.

“We all have an important role to play in being custodians of the Rotary brand,” Amanda Wendt writes. “The great news is, it’s very easy to ensure your club or District is using the correct logo. Through the Rotary Brand Center you can create a free, professional and on-brand logo within minutes!”

The brand centre has templates and tools to help you create club and District logos, program and event logos, social media posts, websites, business card and event flyers and banners.

At the time when the new logo was introduced, it came with guidelines to help clubs, Districts and other Rotary entities use customized logos to strengthen their ties with Rotary’s worldwide brand.

For example, clubs are not permitted to alter the design, which is consistent with branding guidelines of all organizations. For example, you will never visit a certain fast-food restaurant with red or green or blue arches. MacDonald’s is recognizable worldwide by its iconic golden arches.

Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Your club should use your Rotary club signature rather than the main official Rotary logo for club communications and promotions.
  • Your club can use the name “Rotary” in connection with a club activity if you relate the activity to the club, not to Rotary International.
  • If your club wants to promote itself with another organization or corporation, such as in the name of a building, place, or event, use your club’s full name, not just “Rotary.” Don’t use a name such as The Rotary Library, The Rotary Coffeehouse, or The Third Annual Rotaryfest.
Click here to access Public Image courses from the Rotary Learning Center.

Rotary brand specialist Liz Thiam writes that, “Over the next year, we are going to talk a lot more about branding and how to use Rotary’s logos properly. We are working with you to build a strong Rotary because a strong Rotary—one that is recognizable, trusted, and united—has a much greater chance of attracting members, donors, volunteers and partners.

“You can help by taking a look at your club logo. Do you see your club name along with the Rotary or Rotaract logo? Are you using the correct Rotary colour palette? Is the Rotary wheel clearly visible, free from other graphics or designed elements? If not, then it might be time to update it. It’s really easy—just visit the Brand Center to get started.”

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