Perhaps the most critical audience for launching the Unify brand was our own employees. “Critical” in both senses of the word: If our own people didn’t engage with the brand, then there would be no credibility in the eyes of the customers; and since the brand represents us – employees are going to be the harshest critics of any change in branding.
In this series of four blogs, I am going to share some of the principles we tried to apply during the launch of our new brand, and some of the learning from this our experiences.
Part 1 – Start by Listening
Have you ever been to the movies or to the theatre with someone, and then in conversation afterwards convinced yourself they must have been watching something entirely different?
A challenge in any communication is that everyone is wired slightly differently, and tunes-in to different aspects of content. This is even before you consider the language and cultural differences within a global audience. Focusing too heavily on these differences is a sure-fire route to insanity, but there is one broadly applicable concept that has helped us:
Some people primarily tune-in to facts, goals, targets, metrics, objectives, logic. These people have left-brain dominance, and are mostly convinced by rational argument.
While others tune-in to emotional cues – “Why should I care about this at all? How is it going to feel? Is it a worthwhile cause?” are the questions they are asking. Don’t bother me with the “what” and the “how” until I believe in the “why”. These are more right-brain dominant, and all the understanding in the world is not going to convince them if they don’t have belief.
And of course, most of us are a blend.
Whole-mindedness has become a staple in our approach, as has asking for feedback from our organization. For this reason we built a “brand pulse” survey which we offered to every employee before we embarked on any significant communication work related to the launch of Unify.
In this survey, we asked four acid test questions about understanding, belief, excitement and having a part to play. We also asked people to comment on whether they felt a new brand would attract new customers, sustain existing customers, reposition in the market and accelerate transformation.
The answers gave us base-line positions, but also gave us guidance on the content that we should prioritize. Also the few demographic questions included in the pulse enabled us to organize supplementary local comms where there was a particular function or location which had responded in a way which showed some specific local concerns. So although the actual brand name “Unify” was kept secret until launch (I feel slightly naughty saying it out loud even now) we were able to build a communication program in the months leading up to the big day which tackled the issues of why rebrand, what opportunities and risks it carried, what are the brand attributes, and also how with a heritage line “Formerly Siemens Enterprise Communications” we would be able to bridge to the new brand in the early days of its use. I’ll share more on that program in a future blog.
By repeating the pulse before during and after launch we were able to gauge overall sentiment, and tune our communication step by step. And the free text comments which people contributed (I personally read every one) gave colour to the quantitative data, helped you really feel both the excitement and anxiety that people were going through – and also gave us a number of suggestions we were able to include in the brand program.
So our audience actually shaped the design of our communication program. After all, they wanted it to be a success as much as anyone. Even though many (53%) initially were not convinced that it was the right time to move from the Siemens brand – the huge majority (88%), even at the outset stated they were committed to making the new brand successful. With feedback like that, it’s difficult not to be both rationally and emotionally engaged!
I’m interested in your views – in particular, how your company tracks sentiment on particular issues, and whether you consciously incorporate rational and emotional content in your own communication? What are your experiences?