The impact of corporate identity change on employees.

Porter CommunicationBefore you communicate the value of a corporate identity change to the customer, employees must first be all on the same page in order for them to bring that value to life.

When organizations change and implement their new Corporate Identity, the focus of that implementation effort is primarily on how the change will impact the customer audience and their relationship with the redefined organization. As important as customers are to the implementation of a new corporate identity program, employees are the real drivers of successful implementation.

That’s why it’s critical employees are all on the same page before the marketing implementation begins.

In consulting with dozens of client organizations developing corporate identity programs, we’ve seen a tendency for CEOs to naturally frame their implementation to customers as a marketing initiative. Customers are generally the primary audience for the output (and budget) of the implementation effort. However, upstream from marketing, there is the culture of the organization. Corporate Identity Development and Implementation is first a strategic cultural imperative before it can be a marketing initiative.

The impact of changing an organization’s identity in the marketplace will be most profoundly be realized by employees. Most organizations don’t go deep enough when bringing the purpose of identity change to “life” within their organizations.

For many organizations, the default tactic is often producing and distributing a highly visual stylebook 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 of 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 nothing more than a superficial decorative act rather than an inspirational philosophy and organizational principle that will inspire employees to greater levels of understanding of why the change matters to them.

More than design.

The identity of an organization in the marketplace is a critical reflection and symbol of the value the organizational culture brings to the customer at every touch point in the value chain. Employees are the ones who deliver on that promise.

For many organizations, 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. The design is critical, but design is the effect of a previous cause. The previous cause comes from within the culture.

CEOs are the only ones who can champion the impact of corporate identity change with employees in a credible way. As a leader, The CEO determines 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 the culture, nor can the consulting design firm drive it. Corporate Identity involves much more than naming and visual design.

Employees must benefit before the customer.

There are many valuable outcomes and benefits to an organization that properly creates and manages an institution’s name, visual identity, trade dress and unit signatures. These benefits must be apparent to employees first.  Employees must realize tangibility and transparency from the leaders of their organization if they are to build a culture that:

Brings life to the “preferred positioning” the organization intends to earn a corporate identity change.

Promotes and embodies a value system that attracts top talent to the organization.

Delivers on the organization’s value proposition to customers and builds a strong brand.

Understands the coherence of the organization’s composition and its relevance to the customer.

When employees are clear about why change is necessary, who they are in the grand scheme of things, what makes them exceptional within the organization, and they have been educated with a deeper understanding of the corporate brand identity objectives, they can more effectively apply their unique skills and expertise to activate the organizations goals with superior results.