November 15, 2019
Warren PattersonBy Warren Patterson
LO President
With just three months left in my two-year term as Landscape Ontario president, there’s one more thing I would like members of our vibrant association to think about: our name.
There, I’ve said it.

I have talked with some of you before about the fact that our name sometimes does not properly reflect who we are as an association and what we are trying to achieve. It’s the elephant in the room sometimes, so here we go…

At this time last year, both stakeholders and leaders of the association spent a great deal of time, thought and energy to prepare a detailed and well thought-out strategic plan. That plan clearly describes our purpose, our values and our objectives. Our purpose is to advance the landscape profession. Our values are based on community, professionalism, stewardship and leadership. Our objective is to be the hub of sustainable careers in the landscape profession.

To many, including myself, the purpose and values we identified are nothing new. They accurately describe what our association has and always will be to our members, to the public and to prospective people looking at our profession as a career opportunity.
The name for any association needs to have simple, easy-to-understand words that best describe that association and its members. And to the extent that when someone sees our name they can easily say, “I get it! I understand what they do.”

We don’t have the resources to create and sustain a brand. (Side note: my litmus test for a brand is walk into a mall, say the name and see how many people recognize it). Apple, Google, McDonalds, and Costco are all brands. Our industry may only have one brand that would pass the litmus test...

Currently, Landscape Ontario has four names. Our registered name is Horticultural Trades Association Inc. Our public name, in long form, is Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association, and in short form, it is Landscape Ontario. Insiders, such as members, industry folk, government and those groups we have built great relationships with, affectionately refer to us as LO.

When we look at the various names above, they don’t speak much about professionalism, leadership, stewardship and community. We must also consider the sophistication of the words. The word “horticulture” is a scientific term. If you look up the Lexicon rating on that word, it is considered a postgraduate word and has five syllables. Not so simple. We understand it, but is it something that others will understand and be attracted to as well?

For this month’s discussion, I am going to leave it at this: I have recently brought up the issue of our name to the LO Board of Directors. I said it is something we should have a discussion on. We need to have the discussion in order to ensure there are no roadblocks on the journey to becoming a great, understood, and attractive association.

Feel free to email me your thoughts and comments at this stage of the discussion. The comment box is now open.