Expanding ASCE’s Opportunities

Expanding ASCE’s Opportunities
American Society of Civil Engineers logo on a blue background


With over 160 years of history, the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) brand had become quite complex. For example, an audit and analysis conducted by McKinley revealed over 50 discrete visual and verbal identities, none of which were organized by a coherent brand framework or strategy.

Working collaboratively with a staff and volunteer task committee, McKinley guided an 18-month research and development process to create and implement an organization-wide brand strategy to bring ASCE’s visual and verbal identity into alignment with its organizational goals and operational infrastructure.


The project resulted in an intuitive and elegant brand system that allows all current and future ASCE properties to be aligned to one of four “sub-brands” which represent the pillars of ASCE’s value proposition and mission focus. Ultimately, the Society’s Board of Direction unanimously approved the approach, which has been fully implemented today. For an example of the results, visit ASCE’s website (http://www.asce.org), which now uses the four sub-brands as its top-level navigational structure.

Communications Assessment

In the fall of 2011, ASCE retained McKinley to conduct an assessment of the organization’s portfolio of 26 e-newsletters sent to members. Our goal was to find ways to strengthen the communications portfolio through a variety of means, including evaluating audience overlap between the newsletters, auditing newsletter content, providing insight on the communications’ performance relative to each another, improving e-newsletter effectiveness, and increasing readership and engagement. McKinley worked with ASCE to collect and analyze metrics on all 26 e-newsletters sent in 2011 to create a Communications Dashboard tool. We also conducted telephone interviews with association executives to learn about other e-newsletter programs and related systems and processes. To gain the e-newsletter recipients’ perspectives, McKinley surveyed a sample of subscribers from each newsletter on their readership behaviors and perceptions of the publications. After the survey analysis was completed, selected data from the electronic survey was incorporated into the Communications Dashboard.


Our recommendations also focused on how ASCE can protect the member experience, provide a consistent look and feel and increase open and engagement metrics. As a result of McKinley’s work, ASCE is streamlining their email communications processes and working to increase the effectiveness of each electronic communication sent to members.

Interview Transcription:

Wendy: I am Wendy Cowan; I am the managing director of the American Society of Civil Engineers. I’m also the executive director of the American Association of Engineering Societies.

It’s really hard to pinpoint one project or activity that is outstanding in my memory of the times we’ve worked with McKinley. We came up with a new brand for ASCE. We managed to restructure two boards. I think working on the Engineering Workforce Commission, for me, has been just hugely overwhelming and knowing that I had you all here to do that project – I don’t know what we would have done otherwise because it’s just such a massive project. I mean, we do three publications every year with all the surveys behind them. We had to modernize the platforms. It’s just been an amazing project.

Liz: The relationship that we’ve been able to develop with you and the trust that you and your team have put in us has really helped us grow that partnership aspect. That has been a really rewarding experience.

Patrick: AAES is a unique association in the sense that it’s an umbrella organization and the engineering field is very diverse. You have a number of specialty societies that have their own interests and things that they’re looking to accomplish. It’s extremely difficult to bring all of those organizations to the table and have a meaningful conversation. AAES does this while producing some pretty sophisticated workforce statistics and labor statistics that benefit all of those specialty societies. I think that’s a very unique thing.

Wendy: I think one of the huge benefits for ASCE and AAES in working with McKinley has been how knowledgeable they are about engineering and membership organizations as well as trade and professional associations. That has been a real benefit for us. When we wanted to do branding, you had experience in branding but you also knew enough about engineering to be able to understand that we didn’t want something really jazzy or out there. [You understood] that we just wanted a few little tweaks here and there. I think it’s the same on the AAES surveys. Numbers are really important to engineers and your experiences [have] told you that [so] you know what to take seriously and where to guide us in these projects and that’s been very helpful.