In our many years of working with great service brands — in industries ranging from financial and legal services to hospitality — we’ve come to know that effective and lasting change only happens when it’s grounded in what makes your organization unique, and embraced and driven by your people.
We hammer this home relentlessly with our clients. You can have the most beautiful new visual identity, the sharpest new website, the most aggressive business development campaign, the smartest recruiting strategy, but if your change initiative isn’t tied to your brand and values, and if it doesn’t engage your people in the process, chances are it’s going to fall flat.
Brand-driven initiatives, on the other hand, are often highly effective and efficient, for a number of reasons:
- First, they are based in your brand strategy, which should be something that is already understood and accepted by your organization.
- Second, you can use your brand strategy as a framework for developing specific ideas for your initiative, which makes the ideas more authentic to your organization.
- And third, the very act of involving your people in the process leads to higher engagement, greater excitement, and longer-lasting results.
How does it work?
A solid brand strategy defines who you are (your positioning), what you stand for (your values), and what sets you apart (your brand promise). If you’ve done it right, you’ve engaged your people during the process of articulating your brand strategy, and they’re on board and enthusiastic.
If so, it’s a no-brainer to frame any change programs in the brand strategy. The change program should feel like an organic offshoot of the brand strategy — i.e., “Because one of our brand values is transparency, we should revamp our billing system to be very clear and straightforward.” This will help people understand and champion the strategic foundations for the new program.
Also, you can use your brand strategy to develop ideas for firm programs and activities. Our initial research with our clients often identifies the organization’s “pain points.” For example, our one-on-one interviews at a law firm last year revealed concern about the firm’s low morale. We then ran workshops with partners, associates, and staff that used the brand strategy as a framework for brainstorming ideas around firm unity and business development. Many of the resulting ideas focused on how everyone could work to improve internal communications and break down siloes, and the firm has since undergone a meaningful transformation into a more unified and connected entity.
Change is never easy, but it’s going to happen whether we like it or not. You want to make sure you’re driving the change, and that you’ve enlisted as many people as possible in the effort. You may be facing any number of change initiatives — customer service, recruiting and retention, diversity and inclusion, marketing and business development, and business strategy, practice management — but regardless, the likelihood of success is always much greater if you involve your people at every stage. And that involvement should start with the development and implementation of a strong, authentic brand strategy.