The agency had been established about eight years earlier. It had had some successes, but had failed to make the impact, at home and abroad, that it should have been able to make. It was operating in a fast-expanding field where there was an obvious need for the advice, technical know how and market expertise it could provide. Yet, somehow, it had not managed to put its message across to the businesses and organisations it was set up to help. Even before we began our brand audits with personnel, customers, suppliers and other external stakeholders, we found clear evidence of confusion among the organisation’s own employees about what its aims were and what its branding was trying to achieve. Millions of Ringgit were being spent every year on brochures, advertisements, websites and exhibitions, with no single, coherent message, no measurement and very little to show for the money that was invested.
Internal, External, Communications audits & 2 year brand road map
A really deep dive of the organisation was required to understand why there were so many gaps and what was required to put them wrong. We spoke to staff to find out why there wasn’t a clear and shared understanding of what the brand means and how it impacted their ability to do their work. We explored customers’ views of the agency and its activities, uncovering plenty of negative reactions. We carried out a communications audit to see if internal and external brand communication programmes were having the desired effect. We developed an online survey aimed at consumers, business customers (ranging in size from SMEs to global giants like Nestle and Kelloggs), suppliers and people in government.
Few of the personnel understood what the brand stood for or its purpose. The agency, as a whole, was suffering from the fact that every member of staff had a different view of the brand’s values and priorities and from the organisation’s inability to sum up its meaning and purpose in consistent messaging. Neverthless, there was a lot of good will for the brand, with some stakeholders obviously impressed with what the agency was doing, but there were enough negative comments to make it clear the internal confusion for was undermining much of the good work. We looked at how the agency spent its marketing dollars and a similar picture of fragmented, unco-ordinated activities emerged. We found the agency’s glossy corporate brochures were given out at seminars, exhibitions and conferences, yet much of the information was out of date. The website, the first port of call for most people who want to find out about the agency, was clunky and anything but inviting or interactive. Page after page carried slabs of heavyweight text that had all too obviously been cut and pasted from print documents, ignoring the fact that web copy needs to be crisp and succinct.
We set about producing a series of recommendations and actions that could be taken, within the limits of existing budgets, to revitalize the brand and position it for future growth. The result was a list of almost 100 recommendations, ranging from immediate actions that would lead to quick wins to longer-term strategic initiatives. All of these recommendations could be followed up quickly and relatively inexpensively, laying the foundations for action at a more strategic level. Taken all together, Fusionbrand’s hundred recommendations mapped out a way forward for the agency, starting with tackling the smaller and more easily remedied problems and grasping the immediate opportunities, the low-hanging fruit. The initial scope of the project had involved brand and communications audits and the production of a two-year communications plan, but it quickly became obvious that the agency was keen to take a broader, more holistic view of its branding. Much of this work has now been done, with very obvious success, and the agency is already moving ahead to confront the bigger challenges, all within the constraints of current budgets. While less money will be spent on buying media space for traditional advertising – and less will be wasted on ill-thought-out campaigns and gestures – the agency is well placed to use social branding and community building to reach, engage and positively influence a much larger number of customers and potential customers.