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August 7, 2018

What’s in a name? Ad Club advertises its new brand

Courtesy / The Ad Club of Maine The Ad Club of Maine, which has gone by that name since the 1980s, revealed its new identity (bottom) Monday night.

Hoping “to continue to be relevant and accessible to Maine’s creative community,” an organization of advertising and branding professionals has launched a new brand — for itself.

The Ad Club of Maine, a networking and professional development group, unveiled its new logotype and name, Maine Ad + Design, at Space Gallery in Portland Monday night.

Earlier, the group’s president, Colleen Craig, gave Mainebiz a preview of the new identity and explained its purpose.

“One of the primary reasons we decided to change the name of the organization was to get away from the word 'club.' It felt too exclusive. Too old-school advertising,” Craig, of Portland marketing agency Garrand Moehlenkamp, said by email.

The new logotype spells out “MADE,” a near-acronym of the group’s name, in bold capitals. The letters are stacked two on two, similar to Robert Indiana’s well-known “LOVE” sculpture at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland. Each letter appears to cast a shadow, adding to the sculptural effect.

But the logotype is no statue, said LK Weiss, a MADE member who volunteered to design the new look, working with members Erica Johnson and Libby Connolly.

“The shape started as a communication bubble-square that you see often in comics,” said Weiss, of Portland Design Co. “The interesting part of this mark is that it's so full of movement, which means it may look completely different to you than it does to someone else.”

The logotype and name come with a line of fine print that reads “Estd. 1923,” a reference to the organization’s founding 95 years ago as the Portland Advertising Club. In the 1980s, the name changed to the Ad Club of Maine. Two years ago, the club began a “transformation” that included a new structure of committees, a new board of directors, and discussions with members to develop a new identity, Craig said.

But she said MADE’s mission of championing Maine advertising will continue. Programs such as the Broderson Awards, a 35-year-old professional competition that resumed last year after a three-year hiatus, will go on.

“We wanted to find a balance between honoring our roots … and being more accessible to any and all who work in the ever-changing creative field in Maine,” Craig said.

Although records are scant, she said she believes the organization is the country’s second-oldest association of advertising professionals, behind the Ad Club of Boston, established in 1913.

But on their websites, other associations make even greater claims of longevity.

Ad Club Colorado says it’s 115 years old; the Advertising Federation of Minnesota is more than 110. The Greater San Francisco Ad Club began in 1906, as did the Advertising Club of New York. The Advertising Club of New Orleans launched in 1910.

There are hundreds of local advertising organizations, many of whom tout their history. Nearly all employ a name identifying the association as an association.

It’s too early to tell if Maine Ad + Design’s departure from such a “club” identity will be successful. But Craig is optimistic.

“We've had nothing but positive momentum and support from the community so far,” she said, “which validates for us that this is the right time for this evolution.”


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