On the face of it, the recent brand and marketing activities of Leeds United and The Army were a brave attempt to move away from negative connotations.
Leeds United’s crest was last re-developed 20 years ago and was the first noticeable change brought in by the then Chairman Peter Ridsdale. Early success has been followed by a financial meltdown and a dramatic fall into footballing mediocrity. It wasn’t the logo’s fault but for many, it is a constant reminder of a time when things went wrong. So change could be good.
For the army, criticism over homophobia and a lack of emotional support for troops and veterans have existed almost forever. Again admirable to try and tackle those big questions with their TV campaign. But for both them and Leeds United their attempt to introduce change has been met with a backlash… so why has this happened?
It might surprise you that when you’re inside a creative / branding project the difference between shooting for the stars and crashing and burning is difficult to spot. Excitement and apprehension tend to be constant. Trusted processes tend not to deviate. Conviction tends to grow as you move towards the launch.
All creative processes have their own nuances but rely on one key thing; having the right stakeholders in the room. This is why we take so much care in ensuring that our strategic projects that introduce change engage the right people from the start. This article focuses on who you need.
A voice of the customer
Disclaimer: this is not marketing people. Marketing people write messages that help the customer to understand service and business propositions. They rarely really understand the day-to-day frustrations of end customers.
Customer Services are often a good shout for this role. They can speak passionately on behalf of the customers because they deal with complaints and conversely are there when relationships blossom. If we can use pain and gain points positively, we can replicate positive experiences for a larger percentage of the customer base.
Someone who understands the way the business works
Failing to bring the business along for the creative ride is the number one reason why lots of creative ideas for customer experience never see the light of day. There might be enormous physical and cultural barriers to implementing transformative change. Having someone who can influence and facilitate the evolution of operations in the project initiation opens your eyes to short, medium and long-term possibilities. This means we can focus on solutions we can introduce today, rather than focusing on change which is 3-5 years away from being possible.
Someone with their head on the block
There’s nothing worse than projects without someone who is ultimately responsible on the client’s side. I did a project once with an Operations Director, Marketing Director and Sales Director who had all contributed equal amounts to a project, but nobody wanted to take overall ownership. Surprise, surprise we got completely bum steers from each stakeholder which led to a confused brief and output. It’s always sensible for the client to collectively agree and pass requirements through a central point of contact.
A product or service specialist
As a general rule, we find that customer service understands the most about the product or service they sell, followed by operations and then by marketing. Often genuine USP’s exist in the minutia of product and service detail, which is only known by people who know what you offer inside and out.
These people are often less interested in overall strategies, customer satisfaction and ‘the big picture’, so we’ve always found that tapping into their knowledge for specific bits of insight and then working with this is the way to go. These people can also be very valuable in sensor checking solutions before they go to market. Taking Leeds United as a case in point, I’m sure club stalwarts like kit men, physios and hospitality managers who had been with the organisation for a number of years would have spotted that the new logo was completely out of sync with the wider service offering.
Frequently this is the bit that we provide. Somebody who can take the whole conversation 10 steps forward with big ideas that capture what people are trying to achieve succinctly and spotting things worthy of further investigation by leveraging their wider experience.
These people can come with egos but the best ones are down to earth. After all. It needs to be possible for them to reflect on bad ideas like the Leeds United logo and the Army advert and stop them before they cause organisational damage.