A few years back I remember sitting in the boardroom of an insurance company, listening to the majority of the directors talk down the ability of their employees to initiate, engage and innovate. How wrong they turned out to be when, after inverting the usual engagement cascade, the same employees revolutionised the way that company did business, transformed the culture and gave the brand the boost it needed to climb onto the brand leaders’ rostrum.
Last May, I facilitated a discussion about brand engagement at a large gathering of partners and associates from the professional services sector. There’s finally much talk of brand in these circles. It’s largely couched in terms like reputation and image, includes large doses of skepticism, but it’s brand related all the same. It does remind me, however, of the aforementioned boardroom chatter.
With increasing global competition for clients and talent; mergers and acquisitions taking flight as well as a growing paranoia about new media and the difficulty of imposing hierarchical cultural norms, it’s hardly a surprise that partners want to understand, bottle, brand and manage their magic circle “magic dust” or usp. But it isn’t easy.
In an attempt to deflect any tension by adopting a neutral metaphor for change, I compared brand development to the recent royal wedding. Yes, there was plenty of pomp and pageantry, there was tradition, legacy and protocol. But key to the success of brands, as exemplified at the recent wedding, is behaviour epitomised in this case by the notion of keeping “the common touch”. The behaviours of the key protagonists in the wedding party was exemplary, it was touching and ultimately engaging. It represented a watershed for the Windsors and was a triumph for the melting pot that is, brand Britain.
Getting the signage and livery right is sexy and often expensive….but that’s the easy bit. Service industry brands are hugely dependent upon the qualities inherent in their partners and people. Defining and then transforming professional services brands involves visualising, living and then sustaining a unique culture. As the winds of change start blowing up a gale in this sector, values and culture development is the real brand battleground, making these very exciting times.
If you would like more details about the event including an outline of key discussion points and conclusions, contact us by leaving a comment below or dropping us a line.