Brand Positioning

Harnessing Pride in Public Service



01 / Background

As states adopt right-to-work legislation allowing unionized public employees to enjoy union benefits without paying dues, AFSCME, America’s third-largest labor union, must convince members to pay for something they may get for free. AFSCME asked GMMB for help reconnecting with its members to show how their dues and dedication sustain the union’s important work.

2015 - 2017
Advertising / Creative Content / Brand Strategy / Digital

02 / Strategy

AFSCME came to GMMB to quickly develop a campaign to get in front of a pending Supreme Court decision that could establish right-to-work as federal law. Instead, we persuaded AFSCME to go deeper and conduct member research to gather insight into members’ perceptions about the union to build a solid, enduring brand platform for a variety of targeted member retention campaigns. Through extensive ethnographic and quantitative research, leadership interviews and persona development, we uncovered a clear gap between the union’s leadership and membership. While union leaders had spent their careers witnessing the power of collective action, the research revealed that rank-and-file members, who are proud to work in public service, wanted more recognition and appreciation for their work from the union and in their communities. We knew our brand strategy would need to tap into this insight and reconcile this divide. Before trying to persuade prospective and current members about the value of collective action, AFSCME would first need to demonstrate respect for them through action.


03 / Work

Based on our research insights, GMMB undertook a comprehensive brand process to create a new brand story that taps into the public-service pride that inspired members to join AFSCME in the first place and positions AFSCME as the champion of every person proud to work in public service. Through extensive efforts to gain buy-in across the union, we showed union leaders how to communicate in new, resonant ways about their community and contributions without sacrificing any of the values that built AFSCME and the labor movement. We translated this new brand into a campaign to reach public employees who might succumb to the right-to-work siren song. The Never Quit campaign was born seamlessly from this central promise of AFSCME’s story: Because our members never quit making our communities better, AFSCME never quits on them.


04 / Results

AFSCME’s refreshed brand and the Never Quit campaign launched at the union’s 42nd International Convention in July 2016 and is being described as a whole new way of looking at the relationship between a union and its members. AFSCME leaders, communicators and local affiliates have embraced the new platform and integrated it into their communications, including devoting an entire issue of the AFSCME Works magazine to the new brand platform and featuring the brand story on its front cover. While the external rollout is just beginning through a paid digital video and display campaign, already AFSCME members are making the Never Quit campaign their own; it’s a badge that speaks to the commitment they bring to their work and a big step toward seeing AFSCME as a continuously supportive force in their lives. Together, the new brand and Never Quit campaign have reinvigorated the union’s promise to its members: Through solidarity without conformity, AFSCME supports every person proud to work in public service.