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Leveraging the Power of Your Brand Within Your Company - A Case Study

Employer branding. Everyone seems to be talking about it, yet there are remarkably few really good examples of organizations that have been effective at articulating what it’s really like to work there and who’s a good fit. Google and Southwest spring to mind, and maybe a small handful of others; otherwise, there’s a lot of noise in a cluttered marketplace where organizations are pitching jaded candidates.

The inconvenient truth is, you already have an employment brand, whether you’ve worked on it or not. Your brand is the sum total of what people are saying about you and think of you as an employer, whether you’ve been in the conversation or not.

Actively working on your brand and engaging people in the conversation is not optional today. It doesn’t have to be complex or expensive either. But it does pay enormous dividends. In May 2005, Harvard Business Review published an article by Neeli and Venkat Bendapudi entitled Creating the Living Brand. In their research, the authors profiled two regional convenience store companies who broke the stereotype, showing that any company can deliver outstanding customer service—even convenience stores, where low pay and high turnover supposedly make service a problem. The secret: generating a bond between employees and the brand.

We have a lot to say on the subject and lots of client case studies to share – but this particular story comes from Velocity Partnership, one of our partners, and the work they did with one of our shared clients.

Velocity began working with Juergen Partridge Limited (JPL) in early January 2008.  While financial results were important for Juergen and Audrey Partridge, they had some other priorities for the year ahead.  They wanted to ensure that every employee at their firm was proud to represent their company brand. And ultimately they wanted to see if it would ever be possible to slowly move out of the day to day operations of the company.  At this time they were both resigned and beaten up by their year in 2007.  Client breakdowns were more frequent, margins were down, employees were feeling burnt out and they both felt disillusioned about a business that began from a passion for architectural landscape and design.  These business challenges had taken their toll on the leadership of a business that had produced award winning architectural landscape design.

From the identified gaps that the Partridges identified in the initial conversations, it was clear that Velocity’s Inside Out BrandingTM framework was going to be the right approach to address those gaps.  Audrey and Juergen Partridge had presented many challenges and gaps that the company faced, however the picture became clearer as Velocity Partnership interviewed each employee during the Synthesizing Stage which included diagnostic and discovery work.  This first stage of Inside Out BrandingTM included the Organizational Climate Survey and the use of the ProfileXT. The Organizational Climate Survey gave a good quantitative and qualitative measurement of how the organization was doing in some very important areas.  The questions and their answers opened up some rich, candid dialogue about what was needed, and also demonstrated how engaged each employee was in the delivery of the company’s brand.  Each team member also completed the ProfileXT.  The PXT created some real ‘ah ha’ moments for everyone as they got to see and hear about themselves in a whole new and different way.  The debrief gave everyone a chance to see the similarities and differences in the team and how that had affected how work gets done in the office.   

Once all of the information was gathered and reviewed, the key learnings and opportunities were explored and discussed with the whole company. Areas like service delivery, brand experience consistency, internal management structures, managing the creative force of Juergen Partridge himself, and communication effectiveness were fully distinguished.  The company-wide working session allowed for total transparency from the individual to the collective whole.  It also produced a clear set of strategies, detailed action items and a detailed timeline to move forward.  The PXTs also helped to identify who would be the best to manage and execute this initiative.  Having Audrey Partridge, the hard working and tenacious co-owner of the company who also has an Energy Level score 9 on her PXT, fully championing the execution of this process made this turnaround fully possible.

After another round of working sessions, Juergen Partridge Limited was able to put the game plan (Systemizing Stage) together for how they needed to design their systems and structures internally to support the effective execution of their brand experience with clients.  This was an intensive stage that could only have occurred with leadership that was prepared to be brutally honest with themselves like JPL was.  It also became clearer where some people in the organization may be part of the problem.  With the support of our coaching this company had the necessary conversations with team members to either move them into a role that most suited their best ability, or if the individual was not willing to take on the change, eventually they either left or were let go.  At this time JPL also put the whole HiringSmart portal in place to start to recruit and hire more effectively. 

The focus on Operationalizing all of the needed change was constantly being balanced with how much change the team could take on and that the new systems added value when executed.  Of utmost priority was the communication throughout.  There were more formal meetings to open up the lines of communication and Velocity Partnership continued to facilitate working sessions to create another channel to ensure the team knew why and what was next and how they could continue to contribute their own creative energy.

By year end, JPL was ecstatic with the results they achieved both on a financial and organizational dynamic level.  The economic downturn has had an impact on their business, but Audrey knows that their new way of operating from an Inside Out BrandingTM approach has given them the foundation to stay the course in 09.  And more importantly, Audrey and Juergen see that in the not too distant future they will be able to transfer even more responsibility of the company to other stakeholders who are coming forth and demonstrating a strong commitment to the future of Juergen Partridge Limited.  

“I am very sure that we would not have survived this economic downturn if it wasn’t for the work we did throughout 2008 with Velocity Partnership.  Instead, we completed 08 with some of the strongest results in our 30 year company history which included a 10% increase in sales, and 200% increase in profitability from 2007.  We have a clear sense of purpose and vision, we have the right team, and we understand the kind of people we need for continued business success.” 

Audrey Partridge, Juergen Partridge Limited.

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