Monthly Archives: October 2013

What if your mother ship’s digital? How to build corporate culture for virtual employees.

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Digital homes for virtual workers






FastCompany Design recently talked about 3 ways Angela Ahrendts might influence Apple’s new Cupertino HQ ‘mother ship’ building on her experience of bringing the Burberry brand together under one physical roof:

  1. Office culture is crucial to creativity and product
  2. Corporate structure and symbolism matter
  3. There are no satellite offices.

But what if you have so many employees, they won’t all fit under one roof? What if your employees are ‘remote/mobile’ workers and live under their own roofs? Or what if you’ve got a mix? The same principles you’d apply in physical environments, you need to apply in your digital environments. Let’s look at Angela’s key points:

1. Office culture is crucial to creativity and product

Providing a clear sense of ‘home’ where your employees feel they belong is the start, the next is embedding your brand to build your corporate culture by making sure your ‘medium is the message’. Your intranet should have a clear ‘look and feel’ of your brand, have a tone of voice that sounds like your brand and functions in line with your values. This will help your digital brand to ‘feel like home’ for your virtual employees.

2. Corporate structure and symbolism matter

Angela Ahrdents talks about the importance of entrances and the organisation of the floors of the offices reflecting importance within the company with design at the top supported by merchandising and then marketing. In the digital world, this is your site navigation – think about having your strategy as your ‘home page’ where all employees see the same messages – then arrange your navigation to reflect your organisation structure. In offices, it’s easier to design gathering points to ‘keep the energy flowing’, in a digital environment, this needs to come from web meetings, ‘face to face’ meetings (think Google Hangouts and Skype calls), and profiles that can be personalised and which facilitate employees finding each other, building networks and engaging.

3. There are no satellite offices.

Each of the Burberry offices is designed to look like an extension of each other. Consistency is key in brand building to help employees “feel the brand” wherever they touch it – and the digital space / intranet is no different to a physical office. Every employee needs to access one intranet where the experience is consistent no matter where in the world they are, what department they work in or what task they’re trying to achieve.

My take outs:

  1. Your intranet ‘home page’ is your virtual home – build your digital environment to mirror a physical environment in a way that looks like, sounds like, performs like and ‘is’ your brand.
  2. Keep the energy flowing in your intranet – design meeting places and personalisation enables employees to build a sense of belonging and to find and engage with each other.
  3. Consistency is key – every employee needs to have the same experience to feel equally at home.

How at home are you in your digital work environment? If you have corporate offices, is the experience the same – or does it differ?

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10 social steps to build a brand – what Angela Ahrendts’ move from Burberry to Apple can teach us.

On 15 October Angela Ahrendts moved from CEO, Burberry to SVP Retail and Online Stores,  Apple. This Burberry’s Social Story video for SalesForce neatly picks out the ten steps in Burberry’s digital strategy which have made the brand so successful, and signal what we might look for in Apple retail soon.

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  1. Reinvent constantly
    It all started with an appreciation of the need to constantly change to stay ahead of the fast moving digital curve.
  2. Unify the culture
    People are the lifeblood of any organisation and when they’re aligned around a common culture, they become a powerful force. Ahrendts mentions that the first digital platform that Burberry implemented was “The greatest uniter of culture of any platform that had been put in place”.
  3. Enable dialogue with and amongst employees
    The common platform brought the employees together because it let 11,000 associates around the world talk to each other – enabling dialogue unlocks the energy within the organisation – best practices can be shared, ideas can evolve, collaboration can flourish, stories can be told.
  4. Visible, accessible leadership
    The platform also provided employees direct access to the Leadership Team.
  5. Clear strategic direction
    The Leadership Team in turn were able to provide real time communication and strategic direction to the workforce – Arhendts and Bailey spoke to their associates directly once or twice a week.
  6. Engaged employees drive great customer experiences
    Knowing that employees had to be on board first, and having put that in place, Burberry then turned their united employees’ focus towards their customers.
  7. Employees are empowered with the tools
    11,000 employees are enabled to respond near instantly to customer interactions in the digital space – a superior level of customer service.
  8. Weave digital into the fabric of the company strategy
    From social to physical, the Burberry digital strategy has been thought right the way through the customer’s journey
  9. Create memorable customer experiences
    Digital elements are added to the physical shopping experience, tags in garments trigger video mirrors, and trays tell stories of the provenance of products placed on them, Burberry’s flagship retail store in Regents Street, London, England is more an adult retail theme park than a department store.
  10. Don’t rest on your laurels
    Go back to step 1 and keep reinventing yourself at the speed of social.

I wonder how long it will be before the we see the first signs of an Apple make-over?

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Are you building a great content brand, or just an efficient content machine?


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Great content gets picked up, reworked, and occasionally ‘spoofed’ in recognition – this excellent SlideShare asks if you’re building that great content, or if you’re just an efficient content machine.

Grab a coffee, settle down and flick through this really entertaining SlideShare on content marketing if you’re in any way involved in content creation, I think you’ll find it’s well worth a few moments of your time – there are some great pointers inside.

This got me to thinking what great content marketing grabs my attention – and the latest for me has been “Old Spice Australia and New Zealand” with the strap line “In Australia, the men are manly, now they can smell like me”. It’s a great ‘take’ on an already extremely successful advertising campaign for Old Spice, which has spawned a number of ‘spoofs’ including an excellent Muppet version ‘Now you can smell like a monster‘.

Great content tends to get picked up, reworked, ‘spoofed’, and ultimately amplifies the original content. You could argue that the above are commercials – a particular category of content. The Dove ‘Real Beauty’ Campaign, Fridge Raiders ‘Meat Hat’ and O2’s Gurus, are some other great content examples that aren’t traditional commercials, but build their brands – I’ve written more about those in my blog on getting the best out of YouTube.

What great content brands have caught your eye lately – and how have they informed your work?

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