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Why your corporate/brand identity change should transform your employees first.

Updated: Nov 30, 2019

Before you communicate the value of your corporate or brand identity change to the customer, employees must be first to know in order for them to bring the value of the change to life.

When organizations change and implement their new corporate identity program, the focus of that implementation effort is on how the change will impact the customer audience and their relationship with the redefined organization.

As important as customers are to the successful implementation of a new corporate identity program, your employees are the real drivers of successful implementation. They should come first before your marketing implementation begins.

Why is this so important?

When employees are clear about why a corporate or brand identity change is necessary, how their actions fit into the grand scheme of things, and they have been informed and involved with a deeper understanding of the strategic business objectives, they can more effectively apply their unique skills and expertise to activate the organization’s goals and deliver the promised value the change represents with superior results.

I’ve worked with dozens of client organizations developing and implementing corporate and brand identity programs. From my experience I’ve witnessed a tendency for CEOs to naturally frame their brand identity implementation to customers as a marketing initiative.

Customers are typically the primary audience for the output (and budget) of the implementation effort. However, upstream from marketing, how the change will affect your culture is the more important consideration.

Corporate brand /identity development and implementation is first a strategic cultural imperative before it can be a marketing initiative.

Employees are first to experience the impact of changing your organization’s identity in the marketplace. Most leaders don’t go deep enough when bringing the purpose of their corporate or brand identity change to life within their organizations.

For many, the default tactic is often producing and distributing a highly visual style book that pays homage to the new identity’s look and feel, brand architecture and key outbound messaging themes.

This is usually coupled with “after the fact” workshops and seminars that merely instruct internal and external users of the identity system how to reproduce the identity on various marketing artifacts.

Unfortunately not enough “soul work” is provided to and inclusive of the culture of the organization both pre and post changeover. Without this deeper level of engagement by employees, the corporate identity change often is perceived as noting more than a superficial decoration rather than an inspirational philosophy and organizing principle that will inspire employees to greater levels of understanding of why the change matters to them.

More than design.

The identity of your business / brand in the marketplace is a critical reflection and symbol of the value your organizational culture brings to the customer at every touch point in the value chain. Your employees are the ones who deliver on that promise.

There are many valuable outcomes and benefits to properly creating and managing your brand name, visual identity, trade dress and business unit signatures. These benefits must be apparent to your employees first.  Employees must realize tangibility and transparency from the very top leadership if they are to build a culture that:

  • Brings life to the “preferred positioning” your business intends to earn through a corporate/brand identity change.

  • Promotes and embodies a value system that attracts top talent to your business.

  • Delivers on the promise of your value proposition to customers and builds a strong brand.

  • Understands the coherence of how your business is organized and its relevance to the customer experience.

Typically, a corporate identity change is a once in a lifetime proposition. It’s a rare occurrence worthy of more introspection and analysis than simply framing it as a design problem.

Design is the effect of a previous cause. CEOs are the only ones who can champion the impact of corporate identity change with employees in credible ways.

As a leader, you determine the criteria around “where we’re going and how best must we organize ourselves to get there”.

This cannot be done in a vacuum from your culture. Corporate and Brand Identity implementation involves much more than the reproduction of visual design elements in your communications to the marketplace. Your employees must realize the benefit to them before your customer.


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