Aligning Your Brand with Your Strategic Direction

Aligning Your Brand with Your Strategic Direction
Ohio Society of CPAs logo

Many associations are facing demographic and industry changes that can shake up a traditional member base and create the need for organizational transformation as they work to meet the needs of professionals in an evolving field.

The complexity and pace of business in the accounting profession are in a period of dramatic change. Traditionally, the career path of certified public accountants meant joining the ranks of public accounting firms after graduation and soon after earning the CPA credential. Now, more graduates are choosing careers in corporate environments and fewer are sitting for the exam.

The Ohio Society of CPAs (OSCPA) has a long history of delivering innovative solutions for its members and has spent the past several years responding to changes in the profession by developing new programs and resources that address the evolving needs of members. OSCPA was concerned, however, that its image and brand were not aligned well with a new strategic direction.

The Problem

Despite its advances with regard to inclusiveness and the changing audience, OSCPA continued to have a reputation as a resource primarily for public accountants who had historically made up the majority of the member base. In addition to ensuring the organization offered the tools and resources to remain relevant to its membership base, OSCPA needed to change its image to reflect a more forward-thinking approach. The Society partnered with McKinley for help transforming the OSCPA brand to better match the organization’s unique positioning and cutting-edge offerings.

What We Did

We spoke to senior staff members and conducted focus group research, surveys and telephone interviews with current, lapsed and never members to determine the perception of OSCPA’s brand as well as what resources and services that CPAs and accounting professionals needed going forward. Then, we worked to match the brand to those values.

What We Found

When surveyed, members described OSCPA as professional, reputable and dependable. Given the changing landscape of the profession, however, OSCPA wanted to be seen as:

  • “Boldly serving sustainable growth”
  • “A driver of business”
  • “Effective in strengthening the business skills of its members”

While members described OSCPA’s image positively, the brand attributes they associated with the organization didn’t convey strength, power, or dynamism—characteristics vital to withstanding change and emerging on the frontline of an evolving profession.

What We Recommended

We wanted to build on OSCPA’s positive reputation with a better representation of OSCPA’s leading and innovative characteristics. We worked with OSCPA to introduce new brand attributes, mission and vision statements, and a tagline, which OSCPA adopted and included in a new digital identity.

The new tagline –

The Ohio Society of CPAs:

Advancing the state of business

– clearly demonstrates a position of strength in an evolving industry.

The Challenge

OSCPA wanted to be seen as a great resource for all accounting professionals. While it was critical to include new segments of members and potential members, they understood the importance of communicating their strong commitment to a traditional member base. The association was careful to balance their messaging to confirm that the organization still offered the excellent support and services existing members relied on while adapting to meet the needs of accounting professionals in a shifting marketplace. They accomplished this by expressing that the organization has a long history of supporting CPAs and positively impacting the Ohio business environment and that new learning models and services would only build on that strong tradition by providing more solutions for members and the businesses into the future.


OSCPA unveiled the new brand in May and has received a positive response from both traditional and emerging audiences. OSCPA is excited to move forward supported by a brand that aligns with its new mission and future strategic direction to drive more value for members along with a stronger business environment in Ohio.