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Brand Positioning Research – Golden Gate Audubon Society

Golden Gate Bird Alliance


Golden Gate Audubon Society, a chapter of the National Audubon Society, engaged Ladley & Associates principal Maureen Ladley to help with a renaming project. The brand association with Audubon has exclusionary connotations and no longer fits the chapter’s mission, vision, and values.

Maureen conducted virtual focus groups with three audiences: conservation scientists, environmental justice community members, and birders, who explored the organization’s meaning, vision, and name considerations, yielding a broad range of feedback.

The chapter board and name committee selected candidate names from the research. Members voted on naming options and unanimously chose Golden Gate Bird Alliance.


Because the use of Audubon in the chapter name did not support the chapter’s values, the chapter board, staff, and members wanted to change the name. The staff and board created a process to explore the best solution for a chapter renaming while considering the naming conventions followed by other renamed chapters.

To learn more about the chapter’s challenge and background for the name change, visit


The chapter’s renaming process involved seven steps:

  • Forming a Name Committee
  • Building a decision framework
  • Gathering focus group feedback
  • Launching a community survey
  • Testing a list of names
  • Narrowing the list
  • Voting on the list to select the new chapter name

The chapter contacted Ladley & Associates to conduct the focus groups. The chapter’s focus group representation reflected their mission and values within three groups:

  • Conservation scientists
  • Environmental justice community members
  • Birders

The discussion topics were the same for each group; they probed participants’ views on:

  • What the organization does and offers
  • The future vision for the organization
  • Fine-tuning the decision framework
  • Word associations and meanings
  • Geographic descriptions for the chapter boundaries
  • Reactions to the Seattle chapter’s chosen name
  • Other potential names or name element
  • Final advice

The robust discussion during the focus group phase surfaced the opinions and perceptions needed to move forward. “The thoughtfulness of the participants made for three of the most profound focus group discussions we have led, and the organization’s process arrived at a unanimous member vote for the new name very quickly in their rebranding process,” noted Ladley.


The focus groups led to survey refinement, and the survey results yielded a candidate list. Members unanimously selected the name, Golden Gate Bird Alliance.

“ Maureen was a dream to work with. Her expertise was immediately apparent in our first meeting to discuss the project. She helped guide our research question development, advised on participant recruitment, and moderated the three focus group sessions. We were on a very tight timeline and Maureen was able to work within our constraints and was quick to respond to any questions or changes that came up along the way. Her expert facilitation in the focus group moderation led to incredibly productive discussion, she handled some challenging participants with ease, made sure every participant was heard and engaged, and we came out with the information we needed to aid in our big decision.

I would whole-heartedly recommend Ladley & Associates for any of your consumer research needs!”

Whitney Grover, Deputy Director, Golden Gate Bird Alliance
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