Managing Change in the Age of You

How your brand can help you understand, challenge and change the status quo.

Change is all around us. From technology to talent to competitive or regulatory issues, all organizations are facing varying degrees of change, and managing that change effectively has become an imperative.

As we discovered at our recent Red Circle discussion in Toronto, the topic of organizational change also presents an opportunity to pause, challenge our own thinking, re-connect the dots, and adapt in anticipation of the unstoppable currents of change carrying us forward.

Our diverse group of participants – which included communications, marketing and HR leaders from financial services, professional services and healthcare – engaged in a vibrant discussion about the scope and impact of change. The conversation covered key drivers for change, and the challenges inherent in embracing change. Regardless of industry, brand emerged as a platform on which organizations can execute change, from engaging millennials, attracting new talent, integrating new innovations and technologies to improving the customer experience. Five of our takeaways from these conversations are outlined below:

1. Change can be a catalyst to connect all the dots

When businesses undergo organizational change – mergers, acquisitions, a new CEO, vision or business strategy – brand can help focus on what really matters for employees and customers. Brand can help clarify the organizational change at hand and put it into proper perspective for all key stakeholders. It’s a rich opportunity to connect the dots and make it easier for your customers and employees to choose your brand.

2. Change helps brands clarify who they are

The brand you are inside the organization is the brand you are outside the organization. Your brand is the promise you make to the market, and the experience you create – with your employees, customers and partners. When the people inside an organization understand who they are, and what they stand for, they are empowered to create memorable experiences. Brand can be used to crystalize who you are, and who you will be, during moments of change.

3. Change gives leaders a fresh platform for brand storytelling

Leadership isn’t just about creating the vision– it’s also about unleashing the talents and passions of individuals toward a common goal. It’s the leader’s role as chief storyteller to bring people together under an authentic idea, particularly during times of change. An idea that is simple, clear and relevant. It should inspire people to find a shared purpose and common ground, uniting a diverse organization under a single global rallying cry. One of our speakers talked about her CEO’s blog, and how he was more accessible than ever before. With a simple brand narrative, he now understands his role as chief storyteller.

4. Purpose transcends change 

Research shows that brands with a strong sense of purpose are more powerful, not only to support employee engagement but also to drive business performance. Doing good has proven business value. We’ve seen the disruptive effect brands like Burt’s Bees or Tom’s have had on their respective industries. As we consider changing demographics and the ‘war for talent’ across many industries, helping people understand the larger question of ‘why am I here’ can be a powerful method of attracting, retaining and engaging younger employees, particularly during times of change.

5. Change is driven through collaboration    

As our marketplace changes, so must we adapt. As the talent gap affects the entire organization, functions that once operated in silos must now collaborate to solve shared business problems. Our research shows that employee engagement is now a top CMO priority, and no longer the sole domain of human resources. We need to look for new ways to bring the best teams to the table, rather than hold on to traditional roles and responsibilities to truly effect change organization wide. HR, Communications and Marketing, for example, should be close partners to recruit and retain employees.

Change always brings new possibilities and opportunities. For leaders, this is an opportunity to leverage your brand to simplify and focus the entire organization. Change can be profound and transformative. It can inspire you do things you’ve never done before, to take risks, challenge the status quo and create something new that doesn’t even exist.  With a strong brand, there’s no place you can’t go.

Contributors

Managing Director, Interbrand Canada
Senior Director of Strategy