Practicing ArchitecturePracticing Architecture
Repositioning Update: Building a Foundation for Change
By Arthur Cohen and Allison Jones
Having reached more than 30,000 individuals through our interviews, surveys, and visits to AIA components throughout the country, we’ve developed a keen understanding of the issues that are most important not only to members, but to prospective members, AIA staff, clients of architects, and the general public. Our research has provided valuable insights into the evolution of the AIA.
Over the past few months, we have focused our efforts on transforming those insights into a positioning platform––a set a messages and concepts that will best communicate why the AIA is an indispensable resource, and how architects and architecture play an essential role in everyone’s lives. We began to develop the positioning platform by testing concepts and messages with an online survey geared towards AIA members and another online survey geared towards the general public. The results were revealing and further illuminated our path towards developing a successful messaging strategy.
One of the most compelling findings from the online member survey was the fact that members have a strong desire for the AIA to become a bolder leader. Among the statements that members found most compelling, nearly 70% chose “AIA is the voice of the profession, advocating for architects, championing innovation, anticipating change, and leading the way forward.” Clearly, members value an organization that gets out in front of issue and charts a path to the future.
Our online national survey gave us an impression of the types of messages that the general public finds most appealing about architects and architecture, and the consensus was clear: those outside the profession care most about the ways in which architects have a direct, positive impact on their lives.
While respondents are interested in the value that architects provide, there is still very low confidence among the general public about their ability to find and engage the right architect for a project. Our research also investigated perceptions of architects held by clients. Despite having worked with an architect in the past, even clients are only moderately confident about their ability to find and engage an architect.
In sum, there is work to be done in providing resources and guidance for the general public to enhance their ability to identify their architectural needs and available resources. Among member architects, a proactive, progressive and future-focused AIA is the type of organization they would value most.
At this stage, we are distilling all of our research, insights, and the concepts that both members and the general public find most compelling into a positioning statement. This statement will clearly and boldly articulate the AIA’s purpose and vision, and it will serve as a unifying principle that will guide the AIA’s activities. We are currently in the process of refining the statement and we look forward to sharing the final product with you.
In the meantime, I invite you to reread the hypotheses we identified in the research and join the discussion about what the AIA can be and the role you play in the change. To learn more about the repositioning initiative, please visit www.aia.org/repositioning.