Activate your change brand

Follow the leaders

Adopt the principles of marketing and brand activation campaigns to drive organizational change to every individual in your organization.

Take a lesson

Change is at the foundation of the current business environment. In fact, over 80 percent of respondents to Deloitte's 2016 Global Human Capital Trends survey report say they are either currently restructuring their organization or have recently completed the process. But too many organizations are still employing traditional change methods with mixed results. While "winning hearts and minds" is still critical, organizations should adapt their methods to incorporate the very trends, tools, and philosophies that are shaping the new business landscape and even society itself.

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Global brands as change agents

Leading global brands are experts at responding to shifting consumer preferences, new technologies, and digital trends. They are masters at capturing attention, creating advocate communities, motivating action from individuals and collectives, and reinforcing the brand. They use consistent themes and forward-thinking tactics to proactively engage consumers and provoke an emotional response that results in unwavering brand loyalty. Companies like Nike, Apple, and The North Face embrace neuroscience and connect with consumers through vivid images and stories that invoke strong feelings, going beyond the traditional customer relationship to create an emotional connection.

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What can we learn from how top global brands motivate action?

After researching how top brands position their products, communicate with customers, and create differentiated value, we identified six key techniques they use to connect with customers and drive their desired consumer behaviors. Those six marketing techniques—focus and vision, holistic branding, customer awareness, relationship building, innovation, and 21st century marketing—correlate directly with change management goals and activities.

Corporate communicators and change agents can tap into these marketing techniques to make their programs more desirable, noticeable, and impactful, and potentially increase the effectiveness of the organizational change effort.

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Using focus and vision to connect with employees and build momentum

Top brands know that setting a vision and branding the effort is critical to laying the groundwork for engaging customers and creating energy around a change movement. Many companies have successfully shifted their advertising strategies to engage their customers by eschewing details of how the product works and focusing instead on building an emotional connection with customers. A detergent company in India used a recent commercial to tell a story and challenge social convention by asking, "Why is laundry only a mother's job? Dads #SharetheLoad." The message went viral, building brand awareness, and establishing an emotional connection with the product.1

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Using holistic branding and customer awareness to motivate employees

Market-leading brands spend significant time and effort on consumer research and analytics to better understand their customers' behaviors and position products to meet their needs. Today, change leaders are learning to tap into these insights. While decades of behavioral economics research2 suggest that intrinsic motivational factors such as relationships, a sense of purpose, and personal growth can be significant drivers of behavior, traditional change approaches often ignore the psychological aspect of change.

Adopting a behavioral insight-driven approach worked brilliantly at a petroleum company to articulate a new personal leadership program with the objective to align personal, individual goals with community and company goals. To brand this program, a logo was designed to provide a visual, complementary link to the company logo while creating an identity for individual change. At the same time, language used in communication and training to staff reinforced the message of the positive consequences of personal change. This coordinated branding effort contributed to a clear sense of individual ownership, instilled greater belief in the value of the effort, and ultimately motivated change in behavior.

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The power of the nudge

Further, by better understanding the motivations and environments that drive their employees’ behaviors, change leaders can design "nudges" that gently push employees in the right direction and drive new desired behaviors.

For example, competition can be a powerful motivator. A major, high-end retailer leveraged the competitive nature of its employees to encourage and drive change management related to the implementation of a large Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. Its Change Agent Network comprised merchants and merchandise planners, a very competitive and reward-driven group. Recognizing the inherent nature of this group, trainers leveraged the principles of gamification to create a set of interactive classroom-based “jeopardy” competitions. To further boost competition, the team created shared visual leader-boards, offered gameplay-based rewards, and provided a view of change activities across the group. Gamification provided an interactive activity that the Change Agents could then use to cascade information throughout the organization.

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Using customer awareness and innovation to build relationships with employees

Successful brands mine increasingly rich customer data to better understand consumer needs and behaviors. Leveraging innovative technology such as sociometric badging gives organizations deeper insight into behavioral economics. Sociometric badges are wearable electronic badges that use social signals derived from the wearer's vocal features, body motion, and relative location to automatically measure a range of key behaviors. Sociometric data can provide change leaders with valuable information to help drive new behaviors by analyzing the facial expressions of the recipients of the message.3

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Using 21st century marketing to spark action

Today's workforce is as likely to turn to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites to get their news as they are to read the newspaper and watch broadcast television. Winning brands have adjusted accordingly. The North Face has built an emotional connection with its customers by asking them to co-own the company's brand. It leverages social media and platforms to empower its core audience—outdoor adventurers—and share stories that resonate with its brand of exploration: "finding the thing we love and relentlessly pursuing it."4 The goal isn't just to advertise new products, but instead to build relationships, strengthen the emotional connection with its products, and create a self-sustaining dialogue with consumers.

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Using innovation and 21st century marketing to tailor an on-demand training experience

Global brands recognize there's no "one size fits all" solution for attracting and retaining customers. For instance, Nike+ Apps personalize each customer's shopping experience using customer personas and purchasing data.5 Information and experiences are delivered on demand, when, and where customers want them.

Forward-thinking organizations are using these same principles to design and deliver the training experiences that help their employees adapt to organizational change. Organizations are leveraging the ubiquity of mobile devices; the emergence of disruptive learning technology tools such as virtual reality systems (Oculus, Google Glass), 3D training simulators, and game-based techniques; and the power of advanced HR analytics to create an immersive, on-demand, and personalized learning experience for employees across different global functions.6

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Living your transformation brand

Like renowned global brands, leaders of organizational change efforts can harness the power of new technology, data analytics, and behavioral economics to craft a compelling and enduring brand for the change journey that captures employees' loyalty and attention, sparks new thinking, and spurs desired action. Employers who expect their people to embrace change as a routine, regular part of work should also be willing to embrace innovative methods and technologies to facilitate change and make it stick.

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This perspective is an independent publication and has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by Apple Inc.

1 (#SharetheLoad)
2James Guszcza, Josh Bersin, and Jeff Schwartz, "HR for Humans: How behavioral economics can reinvent HR," Deloitte Review #18, January 25, 2016.
3Guszcza, Bersin, and Schwartz, "HR for Humans.: How behavioral economics can reinvent HR."
5, March 18, 2016.
6Global Human Capital Trends 2016, "The new organization: Different by Design," Deloitte University Press.

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    Human Capital Services

    Deloitte’s Human Capital services leverage research, analytics, and industry insights to help design and execute critical programs from business driven HR to innovative talent, leadership, and change programs.

    Human Capital

    Deloitte’s Human Capital services leverage research, analytics, and industry insights to help design and execute critical programs from business driven HR to innovative talent, leadership, and change programs.

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