A resurging economy coupled with fresh optimism in the business community has seen many companies feeling comfortable enough to start investing in a wave of branding exercises. It’s one of the most common requests we get these days. But when you sit down with many companies, you often find that there can be a marked difference between your interpretation of a branding exercises and their idea of one.
The problem for a lot of companies is that whilst they start out with the best of intentions, they actually only want to paper over the cracks in their business and a token rebrand is often seen as the best way of doing this. They don’t see the value of investing in employee engagement projects that shape cultural change, focus management and align organisational thinking, attitudes and action around the core values critical to the successful launch and rollout of the rebrand.
Over the years we have worked with a diverse range of companies ranging from Silicon Valley start-ups to multi-billion-dollar global organisations. In that time we have identified some universal truths that are often overlooked in the excitement and rush by companies to get a new logo out there and in front of customers as quickly as possibly. Chief amongst these observations is that inspiring and educating your staff to deliver on your brand’s mission statement/promise is of a much higher priority than the ascetics of the new logo and the size of the brand guidelines document.
One of the most effective ways of doing this is to involve your employees and create a multi-disciplinary team. Tap into the wealth of knowledge that already exists within your business and learn from it. Involve your HR and internal comms teams as part of the driving force in implementing and championing change throughout the organisation.
Introspection can be an uncomfortable and sometimes painful experience, but taking the time and having the courage to face and address internal issues is also a crucial step in creating a relevant and truthful brand that will be embraced by your staff. Talk with your people and be open to their ideas as to what it will take to live up to the promise you are making as a brand. We have found that workshops that involve all levels of management coupled with having teams create customer experience maps, aspiration books and involve them in strategic initiatives, setting achievable brand mile stones all help keep people motivated, focused and committed.
The challenge therefore for companies is to transform a rebranding exercise into a rebranding action that starts from within.
Take Taconic Biosciences for example. When the company rebranded last year, central to the strategy was a synchronized worldwide staff engagement campaign that set out to ensure everyone within the company clearly understood the core brand values of the organisation and their individual role in delivering those values in the real world on a daily basis in all of their actions and interactions – both internally and externally.
It was only then that the company introduced the brand to the rest of the world and Taconic’s external communications strategy was deployed – secure in the knowledge that each and every individual within the company, regardless of geographic location was fully embedded within the company culture and a motivated and informed brand ambassador.
Another example of a highly successful employee engagement strategy was the Kingspan Environmental ‘People First’ initiative.
As with the Taconic Biosciences rebrand, prior to the external roll-out, the Kingspan Environmental ‘People First’ employee engagement strategy engaged with staff at all levels of the company from the newest office junior to divisional director to foster and encourage a shared vision and commitment rooted in sharing and understanding the brand vision and mission of an organisation at the cutting edge of the sustainable and reusable energy technologies.
‘People First’ adopted and made use of a number of internal touch points including emails, workshops, information packs and a series of posters that were localized to each of the separate states throughout Europe, North America and Australasia that boasts a Kingspan Environmental facility. Key to the success of the campaign was the inclusion of employees at all levels throughout the organisation and the fact that they were educated and empowered to deliver the brand promise to all customers and suppliers.
So what’s our point? Well, that’s simple. Don’t cut corners. Yes you can do a 60-minute makeover and have a shiny new logo that may or may not get you a few lines in your local paper, but real and meaningful change starts within a company and is radiated outwards like the heart of a mighty oak with deep roots.
Winter’s Coming and so too is a new Kingspan Energy Campaign
Winter might be over – but this year introduced us to some new and very chilling terms. Polar Vortex. Energy Poverty. All of these factors have contributed to the development of a new campaign by Kingspan Energy to encourage homeowners in Ireland to take advantage of the good weather to upgrade their homes ahead of the next big chill.
The campaign developed by The Mission Control offers homeowners a gentle reminder that winter is coming again and now is the time to do something about it. Working in partnership with the Kingspan Energy marketing team and their digital partners, The Mission Control created an integrated campaign strategy that rolls out across Ireland and offers homeowners a dedicated service that includes helping them secure grants for upgrading their home’s energy efficiency as well as access to the most advanced products on the market using the expertise of Kingspan Energy.
Whilst digital and traditional agencies continue to trade shots over which camp offers clients the better solution, has anyone actually stopped to ask clients what they want? Well yes, actually someone has. In a report published on Forbes based on feedback from 1,850 CMOs and other marketing executives, it appears that clients are actually pretty clear on what they want from their agency partners.
Topping the list of requirements, 68% of CMOs put integrated marketing communications ahead of “effective advertising” (65%) when asked what was the most important things they wanted from an agency.
The rationale for this is actually pretty simple. CMOs are under an immense amount of pressure in a rapidly changing environment, with 54% of respondents indicating that marketing is becoming more complex due to the explosion of communication channel options available and by default this is making their job more challenging. So reading between the lines, clients are not looking for a traditional or digital agency – they are looking for an agency “partner” that can integrate messages holistically across all channels.
Two key words emerged from the findings, “Integrated” and “Partner” and its important that we in the industry take note of this and leave historical misconceptions in the past.
When asked what is the most important consideration for choosing a new agency, 68% of CEOs said “Chemistry” with the proposed agency team over a 62% belief that “the creative presented is likely to be a Big Idea.” This would reinforce our belief that the relationship between agency and client is key. For that very reason, our culture is rooted in working “with” clients as opposed to simply “for” them. This subtle difference has a profound impact on how things are done.
Firstly, it allows clients to see that we have a genuine and vested interest in their brand that extends beyond the traditional perception of agencies only being interested in billing. This has actually led to a very unique look inside the companies we work with which then opens up the possibility for much more honest and meaningful communications.
Interestingly the fact that CMOs place such a weighting on the importance of a fully integrated approach echoes our own commitment to integration. From our earliest days we have championed the viewpoint that ‘communication’ is in a state of constant evolution and by default, it is the responsibility of those within the industry to understand the ability and willingness of people to absorb messaging overlapping channels.
When The Mission won Gold at the 2013 An Post Integrated Direct Marketing Awards, it was for an integrated campaign that embraced a holistic approach to utilising the relevant strengths of each medium and making it intrinsically relevant to our audience. This required an understanding of not only the strengths of each channel, but also its limitations. It was also a case of practising what we preach.
The future holds many challenges and equally just as many opportunities for clients and agencies. But the biggest challenge for all will be accepting the need to adapt and evolve and the necessity of working together. Ignore the insights of the 1,850 CMO’s who took part in the survey at your own risk.