Rebranding, when there is darkness, bring light
For most of us, fly fishing is more than just a sport. It’s been central to our lives in many ways, providing a much-needed break from the daily grind, and giving us time on the water we’ll never forget, as well as friendships that will last a lifetime. That’s why I’m especially excited to announce that our organization is undergoing a significant evolution that I believe will better reflect the importance fly fishing plays in all our lives. The new name of our organization is Fly Fishers International (FFI), and with it comes a reinvigorated approach to our programs, mission, and purpose.
As president of FFI (formerly known as the International Federation of Fly Fishers, or IFFF), I wanted to give you a little background into this change, which is a tremendously exciting new chapter in our group’s storied history, and for the future of the sport.
Our core values remain unchanged—to continue to serve as a strong advocate for fly fishing in all waters for all fish, to preserve and promote the arts of fly casting and fly tying, and to help ensure that future generations can enjoy these same one-of-a-kind experiences.
So why the change?
Change can be difficult, and we want you all to know that the process leading up to this evolution involved hundreds if not thousands of hours of in-depth discussions and thoughtful debate among board members and dedicated volunteers.
Rebranding and a potential name change were originally identified for consideration by the Strategic Planning Committee when it first met in May of 2015. Why was it being discussed? Certainly, one key issue revolved around the name: based on research, fly anglers do not find the name “International Federation of Fly Fishers” appealing, nor did it sound like a modern organization. Looking at the average age of IFFF membership, organizational goals for growth, and a perceived lack of relevance among some fly fishing groups, we knew it was time to ask some hard questions.
The process of exploring potential rebranding began with the hiring of a marketing and branding agency, which was tasked with evaluating current recognition of the organization within the fly fishing community and to document and analyze the thoughts and opinions of our members regarding our current brand presence.
Early on, questionnaires were sent to three sample populations: the general fly fishing community, current IFFF members, and members who had allowed their IFFF membership to lapse. Although the three sample populations were diverse regarding their demographics and relationship to the Federation (members versus non-members), their comments were consistent. One of the most jarring results was that up to 88% of non-member fly anglers had never even heard of the International Federation of Fly Fishers (and we’ve been around since 1964). Another result made it clear that, while our core mission was still very relevant, there was a disconnect between what we do in the context of our mission, and what people think we do.
Overall, the survey results were quite clear: our organization needs to do a much better job of informing both members and the general public of what we do, and why that mission is critical to ensuring our opportunity to fly fish doesn’t vanish. From protecting public access to passing on the art of fly tying, or teaching two-handed casting to address overcrowding and habitat degradation, there is a clear need for the voice of the fly fisher to be heard.
Therefore, leadership agreed a name change was central to this rebranding—and to signal, in no uncertain terms, a fundamental evolution was underway. Through further research and discussion, Fly Fishers International was recommended as the strongest name choice. The name incorporates elements of our current name but is reconceived in a simple, straightforward way that emphasizes our primary market target—people who fly fish—while embracing the international presence that we continue to nurture and expand.
Finally, Fly Fishers International is also already echoed in the name of our organization’s long-time publication, Flyfisher Magazine, offering another level of recognition among our current members, corporate partners, and the fly fishing community as a whole.
As many of you have rightly pointed out, organizational change will not simply occur with the change of our name. A great deal of hard work lies ahead. We recognize the need to do a much better job of increasing public awareness for the great work our organization continues to accomplish, and for taking better advantage of the partnerships, potential projects, and other opportunities that could benefit from FFI’s help in making positive impacts.
But these efforts won’t be nearly as effective without your help. Please join Fly Fishers International as we work together to cultivate conservation, education, and community within the sport of fly fishing.
NOTE: Featured Image is of Wanda Taylor chatting up Eric Cook, fellow Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Casting Instructor, at a North Georgia fly casting clinic. Clement photo.
To understand more and why you should consider joining Fly Fishers International . . .