You wouldn’t let your adverts go out off-brand, so why are you letting your people off the hook?


Phill Bolland runs Marketing at Chemistry. In this blog he’s been thinking about how we might need to think less about new logos and more about new behaviours when companies rebrand.



Yesterday I had a busy day. I stood in a room with my team and danced around, played Family Fortunes, and posed like a lion. Ok, I’m finally starting to see why my friends think I’ve joined a cult.

Sounds a bit nuts but this was actually an awesome piece of training. Props to Ben, our Head of Capability, because it really felt like every single one of us finished the day much more confident in presenting than we started it – it even helped me get over my mumbly off-Geordie twang (well sort of, there was definitely a point where Ben asked, “Are you just going to stand there and make animal noises?”). But it did reinforce something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately; something I actually think every single Marketing department and Brand Agency in the world needs to start thinking more about right now.

I’ve been involved in 3 major rebrands so far in my career and they’ve tended to pan out the same way each time: a bit of brand definition, a creative treatment, and application (logo, website, ads – the classic bits and bobs). At the end you get some guidelines, which are either printed in a nice hardback book or stuck up on an Intranet somewhere, and for 90% of the business life goes on (admittedly in new and exciting colours). Job done.

But Logos are so Cool…

The challenge is that, more than any logo, website, or agency-designed deliverable, your customer-facing staff carry your brand. And what do we do to make sure they carry it well? Guidelines. Intranet. Job’s a good’un.

The reason this came up again today is because we’re expanding like crazy and we’ve got a load of new people to the business, who are yet to drink their full quota of Chemistry Kool Aid. And because it was the Marketing department who showed up to training immediately after them, the difference between the way we, as brand guardians, approached a mock presentation to a client was quite apparent.

And that’s on us because as marketers we have to take a long hard look at ourselves and say:

You wouldn’t let your adverts go out off-brand, so why are you letting your people off the hook?


Interestingly we are starting to see a shift towards a blended Marketing and HR function. The advent of Chief Brand Officers, who’ve popped up at places like McDonald’s suggests the wind’s blowing in that direction. But how exactly do you create an on-brand workforce? I mean, I’ve already said we’re putting guidelines on Intranets; what more do you want?

Well I have drunk my Kool Aid, so my answer would have to be by defining What Great Looks Like for your brand. That’s why I know our new guys are going to be just fine.

You need to sit down and work out objectively what behaviours your people need to exhibit day after day to reinforce your brand values to your customers, then hire the people that they come naturally to and point your current people in the same direction.

How much of a differentiator could that be? Well, what if every human interaction reinforced your brand as strongly as your campaigns do?

I’m not talking about wooly company values or mission statements here by the way. I mean create a set of genuinely measurable behaviours and then work with HR to build that into the company’s recruitment and development processes. How many Marketers prioritise that above anything else in the midst of a rebrand?

Case in point: Uber have just come out with a shiny new logo but have you noticed any difference whatsoever in the way their drivers show up?

Anyway I can tell you at least one team that will definitely be pushing this to the top of their to-do list…


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Sep, 05, 2016