Rebranders, take note: it rarely sounds convincing if you threaten people who light-heartedly question what you're trying to do. So John Dolan's statement, the latest salvo in the propaganda war to try to convince CILIP members to embrace Council's proposal that we rename ourselves as ILPUK, that anyone who makes jokes about it is 'betraying our colleagues', reads as over-defensive and over-sensitive in the extreme.
His message, once more, is that it is impermissible to question the wisdom of Council in choosing the name. I suggest Council remember that they are elected by and accountable to, the membership, not the other way round.
For a more balanced view, look at two messages on the lis-profession mailing list. With their permission, I reproduce these, first Roger Farbey's and then Charles Oppenheim's. They may be also seen on the list archives.
'In calling for a brand change CILIP is effectively giving up. It believes that to change the name to a more “recognisable” brand (ILPUK – really?) is going to be the magic bullet that stops the hæmorrhaging of members out of the organisation. Also that this magic brand bullet will somehow change the public’s perception fo both the organisation and the profession. Well it won’t. This will be as effective as an elastoplast on a broken leg.
The main problem CILIP has is lack of real vision. It doesn’t take much imagination to devise a really good slogan-driven public awareness campaign with the aim of reminding the public and politicians just how important all libraries are (eg, Use your LOAF – libraries – open and free). This can also be constructed to support librarians and information professionals who don’t work in public libraries (think of the clever ad campaign a few years ago for medical librarians – picture of operating theatre with labels attached to surgeon, nurse, anaesthetist, medical librarian).
But worse than all this is CILIP’s admission that libraries are no longer its principal raison d’etre. The ‘L’ word is relegated to second position in deference to the ‘I’ word which has no specific meaning. Everyone is now an information provider of one sort or another. Whereas libraries, librarians and information professionals as outlined within Library and Information Management university curricula are part of a specific and unique professional community. This is in effect saying ‘libraries as such have no future so we are relegating them before they disappear entirely’.
This is so wrong because libraries will survive but may, like vinyl records have to all but die out before they are rediscovered and regenerated.
Also it is extremely hypocritical of CILIP to include a resolution of no confidence in Ed Vaizey’s “failures to enforce the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act” (Resolution 5) when CILIP itself seems to be doing precisely this by its inactions over getting the message across and changing its name to “demote” its USP.
As far as positive suggestions – so far my diatribe has been entirely negative – I would suggest that CILIP as a brand name is ok but the logo is weak. I also agree that a strap line would help, so something like CILIP - The Organisation for Knowledge could work well. An acronymic brand name does not even have to be recognisable in order to work – ASLIB was always understood for what it was despite the somewhat unintelligible five letter title, but had (and has) and meaningful strapline (The Association for Information Management).
CILIP does achieve some very important goals in terms of its magazine and its educational functions including continuing education and short courses. But it fails in other areas badly. Why else are so many qualified librarians uninspired and unmotivated to join? It must be bolder, be seen to be bolder and act publicly to reinforce the essential nature of the profession – it’s not just a “nice to have”.
CILIP must stop blaming its tools (its name, brand) and actively start to win friends both within the profession and outside it. Ten years to embed a new name is not long enough and to give up on it now also sends out a clear signal of collective failure. A brand refresh is acceptable but an outright brand-ditching is not. Therefore I shall be voting against Resolution 4.'
And Charles says the following,
"I expect certain things from my professional association: honesty, transparency and professionalism are amongst the most important. In this rebrand exercise, CILIP senior management has failed on all three counts. HONESTY: we were told before that general meeting that if the vote was to stop the rebrand this would deprive members of a choice of name. But at that special general meeting, we were told even if the motion were passed, it would be 'advisory" rather that forcing Council to abandon the exercise. So the claims made previously were dishonest. TRANSPARENCY: where were the details of the survey instruments and how they were administered? Why weren't questions about who decided which branding consultancy to use answered? Why have senior figures in CILIP consistently failed to acknowledge that the survey method and reporting of results were fatally flawed? PROFESSIONALISM: to give just one example, that video starring the brand consultant recently circulated was patronising, arrogant and embarrassingly ignorant of the Intellectual Property Rights involved in the rebrand. Overall, then, the whole exercise reflects badly on senior management of CILIP.
As if that wasn't enough, what have we achieved by the expensive, painful exercise? The new and old full names are very similar. What of the acronyms, which WILL be used as shorthand? CILIP MIGHT not be understood by a small number of media folk, whilst the new one is open to abuse, as John Dolan notes. Overall, I rate the pros and cons of the new name and new acronym virtually no improvement on the pros and cons of the old name and old acronym. I quite like the proposed strapline, but that could be applied to CILIP as well.
CILIP senior management has shown itself to be defensive, dishonest and lacking in rigour in this exercise. I am not opposed to a name change, but I will only support one when the process to achieve it was honest, transparent and professional. What this exercise has shown is that something is rotten in the state of CILIP."'
Professor Charles Oppenheim'