AIHA’s Brand Evolution
Editor’s Note: On June 30, 2020, a Townhall was held about AIHA’s “brand evolution.” Below is a transcript concerning the new branding, featuring the following panelists: Lindsay Cook, CIH, CSP, FAIHA; Larry Sloan, CAE; and Sue Marchese, MS. The moderator of the Townhall was Thursa La.
This whole effort began in 2016. We were approached by the U.S. Dept of Labor to address pipeline issues in the occupational health and safety profession.
It was this outreach that was, in effect, the genesis of the idea behind our ongoing brand evolution campaign, whose primary objective is reaching NEW audiences. [The first step involves] enticing students interested in STEM to consider industrial hygiene as a career choice; secondly, educating non-technical audiences about the value we offer society. Simply put, brand evolution is an awareness campaign to raise visibility of our members as the experts in what is increasingly being referred to as the more general term “occupational health and safety.” It is an “external-facing” effort.
Over the past several years, we have met with members through task forces, formal surveys and focus groups to better understand how the term “industrial hygiene” is perceived by stakeholder groups not like ourselves. This includes business C-suite executives, EHS top management, HR professionals and others. The output was overwhelmingly in favor of pivoting to a different term that would be better understood by non-industrial hygienists. Keep in mind, these audiences are folks that may have no idea that our profession even exists, so we need to communicate differently.
And then COVID came along—and AIHA has ramped up its efforts to produce a series of collateral materials to help educate non-IH’s about proper use of PPE; educating folks on N95s and other respirators; effecting disinfection and cleaning of buildings that have been closed; and other topics. I hope you are familiar with our “Back to Work Safely” initiative, which has garnered significant press across the country, including the Wall Street Journal and USA Today.
Additionally, many state governments are using the guidelines as a resource and posting them on their websites. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also published a link to our guidelines in their publication reaching their members. This effort began as a challenge by Mark Cuban, who has tweeted out a couple times now. We’ve seen over a million downloads across our guidance documents. COVID has jump-started out outreach efforts by several months.
2.) The new logo is a totally revamped graphic—what does this new image represent?
We had it designed to convey the continuous improvement cycle: Plan, Do, Check, Act. And, fortunately, in the dozens of focus groups we held, members saw the same and even took it a little further—stating it mapped against the IH risk-assessment strategy framework of the ARECC process: Anticipate, Recognize, Evaluate, Control, Confirm/Communicate.
- How did AIHA come up with the new logo and tagline—was this a recent marketing shift (such as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic), or has this been in the works for some time?
This has been in the works for over three years.
We brought in research experts to develop data to determine our path forward. It became obvious that we had a brand that needed to be refreshed. The AIHA Board supported, and we moved forward with changing the logo, tagline and updating positioning statements. These positioning statements (our brand identity, if you will) will be incorporated in outreach campaigns to the various stakeholder groups I mentioned earlier. It’s a lot more than just a logo change—it’s about how and where we tell our story to those that we serve.
- Does this rebranding mean a significant mission change for AIHA?
Our mission remains the same: “Empowering those who apply scientific knowledge to protect all workers from occupational hazards.” It is our tagline that has changed: “Healthier Workplaces. A Healthier World.” We wanted our tagline to better articulate AIHA’s vision statement: “A world where all workers are healthy and safe.”
- During her opening remarks for virtual AIHce 2020, which took place earlier this month, Kathleen Murphy stated that AIHA’s repositioning was not meant to take away the term “industrial hygienist” and that the CIH designation is “never going away.” Doesn’t the divergence from using “industrial hygienist” in the organization’s rebranded name effectively outdate the term a bit and set the stage for a rebrand of the CIH designation in the future?
Legally, AIHA remains the American Industrial Hygiene Association. We have not changed our legal articles of incorporation or our bylaws. In effect, we’ve been using the acronym AIHA for many years now. The new logo and tagline are meant to better articulate our over-arching purpose.
The term “industrial hygiene” isn’t going away. IH will always be who we are and a key component of our internal-facing communication strategies, as evidenced by our #IAMIH campaign. To the outside, non-IH public, when positioning ourselves to raise awareness, educate and recruit people into the profession, we will now be simply known as “AIHA.”
However, we must acknowledge that many of the younger professionals entering the profession, as well as students are coming from academic programs called “Occupational Health” or “Environmental and Occupational Health.” So, we want to expand the tent, if you will, to include these professional titles—at the end of the day, it’s still about protecting people at work, whether they call themselves an industrial hygienist, an occupational health scientist, an occupational hygiene engineer or others from the myriad of job titles in our profession. In fact, many employers are already using “Occupational Health” for job titles.
As for the CIH, it’s a well-branded credential that is globally recognized, and we’ve been told that the Board for Global EHS Credentialing (formerly ABIH) has no intention of changing its name.
- Why wasn’t there a member vote on the name change?
As mentioned before, legally, AIHA remains the American Industrial Hygiene Association. According to AIHA’s general counsel: “There has been no change to the AIHA corporate name and no steps have been taken to change AIHA’s name from a corporate perspective. To do so would require an amendment to AIHA’s articles of incorporation and filing with the State of Illinois, which is the state of incorporation for AIHA.” Since we have not changed our legal articles of incorporation or our bylaws, there was no need for a member vote.
- What is AIHA doing to help generate greater awareness about the profession?
The three pillars of this brand evolution initiative aimed at non-IHs are: Awareness, Education, Recruitment.
- Raise awareness to the general public of OHS science professionals and their value to the community through proactive media outreach.
- Educate key audiences in the C-suite of various industries (our phase 1 audiences are chemical manufacturers, construction industry and first responders) about the value of OHS, not just compliance with OSHA. We will do this by having resources dedicated to these audiences on our website (www.WorkerHealthSafety.org) and reaching out to their trade and professional industries to share case studies; meet with their HR and Operations teams about the imperative of OHS in their workplaces; and present at their conferences about OHS on a regular basis. In phase two of our brand evolution initiative, we are looking into conducting a job title analysis, similar to the one that ASSP did for safety professionals.
- Recruit the next generation of OHS science professionals to the industry by:
- Providing dedicated resources on our new micro-website (www.OHScienceCareers.org) about the field; it’s benefits to society; and their impact on the world—not to mention the incredible salary opportunities;
- reaching out to STEM organizations and professional associations of teachers and guidance counselors to avail them to our resources;
- meeting with the ABET accredited universities and NIOSH Centers of Excellence in the U.S. to team up about recruitment of more students into the field; and
- doing grass roots outreach via members with our extensive outreach library.
- What is the impact of this initiative on AIHA?
Well, we can look at it as a three-step process that leads to getting more people in the profession and, therefore, more members for AIHA. We start off by positioning the profession in a way that is simple and understandable to most people (saying occupational and environmental health and science, instead of industrial hygiene is more relatable and better-understood).
Then, we sell them on the value—through our efforts, media coverage, outreach materials and website resources (such as BTWS). Once they are in the know, it is incumbent upon AIHA to lead them through the professional pathway of an OHS professional, e.g., start as an OHS/EHS generalist, where you will get into industrial hygiene. Perhaps, then, you can become an IH and reach for the pinnacle and get certified as a CIH. IHW