Article • 04 02 2020

Creating and keeping momentum through brand transformation

To many, the importance of sustaining momentum through a brand transformation programme may sound obvious—and the actions required straightforward. But they’re not. Companies typically neglect this long-term imperative because, understandably, they’re obsessed by the short-term gains. Get to the strategic answer and a new look and feel as quickly as one can – then onto the next. They underestimate the difficulty of kicking out old habits and developing a healthy new approach that will be manifest in thousands of everyday actions rather than referenced by a simple checklist. New skills, intense discipline, and strong personal relationships are needed to maintain meaningful progress and make your transformation a triumph of substance, not solely yards covered.

So here’s a few quick-fire pointers from us on ways you can ensure you keep and sustain the right pace throughout your next journey.

Provide a clear and deep understanding of the reasons for change

Explaining the context for change is key to any transformation. In order to get everyone on board with change, you need to build a strong case about why it’s necessary and how it will pay off for the business and each individual within it. Especially at the early stages, metaphors, analogies, and illustrations can help. In order to build trust, be transparent about the brand and business’ current context – about why things need to change and how change can drive a larger transformation that positions and primes the business and its people for success. Make it a story and tell both sides – emotional as well as rational. Being humble and credible as a steering team goes a long way when trying to build context. Questions like – Why change? What will change? Who will change? How will we change? – are all crucial questions that help build a critical foundation of shared understanding. One option might be to dedicate a digital channel to dialogue (ongoing not just at the start!) around the objectives, progress and outcomes of the project. Or schedule a week of dedicated content and updates from project leaders at the outset, mid-point and launch of the project.

Recruit people that create energy and champion change.

Find champions within your business that can exemplify a consistent model for change. Behaviour trickles down and building alignment around the goals of your transformation are key to ensuring it gathers maximum momentum. In order to create real energy, you have to make the transformation personal and exciting to people. When employees gain clarity about how their work might change today, tomorrow, or even months down the line, it feels empowering. Clear and relevant direction creates energy and mobilises people. It moves people to get involved and stay involved. And strong, focused ‘local’ champions (e.g. people like me doing what ‘I’ do in team or role) can be incredibly effective in reducing the anxiety around change and letting the positive excitement take over. As we know, positive energy is hard to maintain and sustain, and a champion’s role is to manage the process. Creating a pace that builds momentum can help keep energy up and people inspired. Embodying traits of the future brand experience in champions can be a very subtle yet effective way of achieving the change you seek.

Embrace a challenger mindset and execute relentlessly

We all know how passive employees kill the dynamism of a business. Employees in successful companies sustain their transformation by constantly challenging colleagues, not just getting along. The best companies welcome and celebrate ideas and constructive challenges in the generative phases of a rebrand or wider transformation programme. They refuse to settle back into a leisurely pace of decision making. And they’re relentless in their pursuit of new sources of value. It’s all too easy for companies to allow the pace to let up once the initial improvement targets or objectives are achieved. It’s simpler to delegate, after all. But when senior executives go back to high-level target setting and avoid immersing themselves in the right details—perhaps on the dubious pretext that they don’t want to micromanage—the warning lights should be starting to flash.

Present better customer experiences, not just new communications and campaigns

In our experience one of the most effective ways to engage your employees through a brand transformation is by applying the new brand thinking to existing products and services. This level of application is still surprisingly rare prior to launch and for us it’s a massive missed opportunity. Prototyping how a change in brand positioning will tangibly enhance product and service is essential in keeping employees engaged and aware of the responsibility they hold in delivering the new brand experience. The days of dressing the outcomes of a repositioning through ads, conventional brand materials like literature, homepages and stationery are long gone. Wire the thinking into brave new, immersive experiences so that employees can participate in the design and appreciate the real, enhanced delivery close up. That way they’ll truly understand what will be different. Think – what new behaviours are required to live the promise, not just what new words constitute a promise of better. Technology has handed us unprecedented power to imagine and redefine the rules in purchasing and experiencing goods and services. So, presenting the outcomes through the eyes of your customers’ experiences will help heighten the impact whilst also organising and mobilising your employees around how new brand experiences better meet current and emerging customer needs.

Remember your real journey starts with the launch

And finally, one that can so often gets forgotten or mismanaged. When you’re within touching distance of that mirage of a launch milestone – stop, breathe and take a moment to refocus. Because the hard yards really only start at the launch. Demonstrating the real change through those ‘thousands of everyday actions’ takes meticulous management and close control. But it’s worth it. Because that’s where your impetus and ignition can quickly become the norm – a new way of thinking, acting and behaving that drives profound increases in performance, pleasure and excitement. Where your customers start to want more and your employees feel inspired to work for you. Liberated and charged by the change in direction. The reinvigoration of renewal. It’s a powerful thing to see and even more satisfying to lead.

If you’d be keen to talk about ways in which you could bring a fresh new approach to your brand transformation programme please don’t
hesitate to contact us. We’ve over 30 years of experience in helping organisations of all shapes and sizes to inspire their employees through change.

Joe Hale is Dragon Rouge London’s CEO.