OPINION: How leaders can help their business embrace brand change

Beth Pope

Beth Pope, Founder and Brand Partner at Firehaus explains how to facilitate an effective re-brand internally.

To say the financial services sector is undergoing a brand renaissance is something of an understatement. From challenger banks to the wave of fintech and insurtech innovators, to more established players investing in new ventures, there is a palpable sense that the sector is pivoting towards a more inclusive and needs-driven way of behaving and engaging with customers and society at large.

As brand custodians leaders are at the heart of this transformation. You’ve spent weeks or even months working out how to position your brand to fully reflect your drive and purpose. You’re chomping at the bit to put your foot on the accelerator and put all that potential into practice. So why do you get the sense your wider team isn’t as fully energised by the prospect as you are? How should you disseminate the brand through the business to ignite your next phase of growth?

It’s not comprehension that’s the issue. It’s our relationship with change. Here are five key principles you need to bear in mind as a leader on any brand transformation journey:

Transformation is a seed, not a switch – It’s tempting to think of a new brand strategy or idea as a switch that simply needs turning on. More realistically it’s a seed which now needs planting and nurturing if it is to blossom. In other words, it’s an organic process not a mechanical one. A strong brand is one that takes root in the minds of every member of your team over time. None of that is possible without comprehension of why a leap is required and belief that it’s both possible and desirable. Take time to get a clear picture of your team’s current understanding of the case for change and build from there.

Miscomprehension is different to mindset – Hesitation isn’t necessarily due to a lack of comprehension on your team’s part which can be addressed through telling and re-telling. It’s often as much about mindset and individual motivation – about whether your purpose, people and culture are aligned for growth to flourish. Is the heat and light of your brightly burning mission reaching everyone it needs to? Do they believe in and share the vision and passion behind it? Do they feel empowered and equipped to deploy their energy and skills in its cause? Finding out what excites and worries your team about the future will help you provide them with the support they need drive growth.

A small, agile team will get you there faster – It’s tempting to say that the answer to team engagement lies in involving everyone in the journey from the outset. But that’s not always possible, even in younger businesses looking to scale. Forming a core working group – a representative slice of your genetic code – is critical to creating the light, space and air for shoots to flourish across the business. They will be able to identify hidden hurdles, address uncertainties and empower others to pick up the mantle and run with it.

Beginnings require endings – Embracing the new often requires letting go of the past. As human beings we have mixed feelings about that. We can feel unsettled and out of our comfort zone. Frustration and disengagement are inevitable, often coming at the very moment you’re looking for new momentum. Allow your team to experience a decoupling of sorts, during which they are able to dismantle and disengage from their existing ways of thinking about the brand and its ways of behaving.

Reorientation can be positive – If handled in the right way, the transition to a new brand direction can be a period of opportunity and creativity.  The key is to face into this as a specific phase rather than avoid it. Provide the guardrails by creating a neutral space where people can experiment with what the new brand direction means for the work they are responsible for. This is the period when your brand truly comes into being, shaped and owned by the many rather than the few.


Image credit: Martin Barraud

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