The International Ombudsman Association

The International Ombudsman Association

Who is an ombudsman? What do they do? Why are they important? For years, these questions have been asked about the profession, which traces its roots to 19th century Europe.  More recently, members of the International Ombudsman Association found they had a hard time even answering these questions themselves. As trained, certified experts in risk mitigation and alternative dispute resolution, today’s ombudsman – or “ombuds” – works in an organization to counsel employees and identify potential problems before they arise. In the process, they help individuals and employers avert costly legal actions and other conflicts where the outcome must necessarily result in “winners and losers.” Instead, they convene parties through informal processes to find solutions that lead to overall improvement in a corporate, academic or other workplace environment – for the benefit of all.

Simplifying and updating the ombuds story was the challenge IOA brought to Westfourth Communciations. But getting the association’s diverse membership to coalesce around a new way of defining themselves and expressing their value would involve more than a simple re-brand.  Westfourth partnered with IOA to implement an incremental approach that ensured high levels of input and engagement from association leaders and members. Research, interviews, surveys and workshops eventually informed a messaging trial balloon introduced at a major industry conference.


At the IOA annual conference, Westfourth and its clients presented an initial set of new marketing materials through the conference website, mobile app and in a video produced specifically for the roll-out. Throughout the weeklong event, the marketing team gauged member reaction in person, online, through app feedback and with table-top surveys – all of which were returned for analysis and future brand calibration. Among this highly-discerning and largely academic audience, reaction to the new IOA marketing approach was overwhelmingly positive, but the process is ongoing. Today, Westfourth continues its partnership with IOA to evolve its compelling story – though centuries-old – for a new age.

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