Whenever a bicycling contest is held in Portland, Oregon, you don’t see the name of any corporate sponsors. No flyers, no banners, no labels.
Instead, some of the bicyclists quietly walk around with a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer after the race and offer it to those who ask for one. Not a single word is mentioned about promoting the beer. People simply enjoy it.
That is how Pabst Blue Ribbon mastered the art of marketing to people who dislike feeling targeted by marketing. It was meant to sell to young people who have become cynical towards corporate marketing campaigns. A closer look reveals that the entire company's culture was built around ‘living the brand’, not promoting it outright.
Read next: What corporate branding really is and how it differs from smaller organizations
What is a corporate communication strategy?
This full-time effort of maintaining an image across all levels of the company was part of Pabst's corporate communication strategy. The goals of the company were consistently portrayed both internally and externally.
The logo, the font, the digital image assets, and yes, the complete behavior of the employees and management, both at work and in public, was all integrated top-down into this strategy.
A corporate communication strategy is a means of telling all of a business' stakeholders - suppliers, employees, customers, and others - what it is and what it does. For enterprises, this is harder – they are so large that image inconsistency can happen at any level. That's why the corporate communication strategy framework should be centrally managed yet effectively communicated and deployed to all levels of the company. This allows for control and consistency of the company story at all times. Pabst exemplifies a company with a strong corporate communication strategy as every employee understands the company image and communicates it effectively with both their words and actions.
Effective communication strategies for enterprises revolve around these points:
- What is your company story?
- Where do you tell your story?
- Who tells the story?
- When do you tell the story?
We can see how this was executed in the case of GE's recent rebranding:
What is your company story?
GE realized that it was losing momentum and not growing fast enough. Instead of accepting trial-and-error, it would avoid committing to new, interesting ideas. Employees were overly risk-averse in order to avoid a bad assessment in their performance reviews.
GE CEO Jeff Immelt realized this and decided he had to allow employees to make mistakes and take risks. So he launched a strategic communication plan to highlight both employees and customers that GE was changing to become more startup-style. Now began a radical rebranding process to provide a better understanding of the company.
Where do you tell your story?
Jeff Immelt chose to announce this rebranding on LinkedIn, where he announced that he was scrapping the evaluation system at GE as it made people too nervous. He wanted to promote a company culture more focused on innovation than getting a good evaluation.
Why LinkedIn? Because it is one of the few channels commonly used by GE’s internal and external audience. Whether on LinkedIn or on another platform, it is important to consider which will be best to reach your desired audience. An internal corporate communication strategy is simply the flip side of an external communication strategy. Both are vital. The problem with the company's own intranet was that GE as a conglomerate is spread out over multiple subsidiaries and departments with their own websites, blogs, and intranets, which could result in inconsistent branding and communications while launching this message.
That's why a large enterprise must have a centralized administration platform for templates, documents and digital assets such as logos. At Templafy, we provide the ability to manage all document templates from a single, cloud-based source and ensure all the latest brand and image elements are consistent across all corporate documents. Learn how we helped a global shipping group implement a smooth rebranding process.
Who tells the story?
Of course, Jeff Immelt chose to announce this change himself, without the need for spokespeople. Messaging should be controlled at every level of an organization. However, while the CEO is the primary spokesperson, the employees are the secondary spokespeople of the organization to outsiders. This is why he encouraged them to share their stories as well.
Having everyone from the CEO to the junior employees share their stories requires a consistency in style and branding, and that is why an organization needs a communication design that provides all employees with the same templates, images and text elements that have been determined by brand and compliance managers to best represent the company.
When do you tell the story?
Although we live in transparent era, we face great risks from sharing information too early or to the wrong people. GE planned this rebranding for a long time, because good practices in corporate communication strategy and planning require launching at the right time to avoid the message backfiring.
You want your organization to be equipped with all the assets they need to support the rebrand before it happens. Templafy offers centralized, cloud-based branding tools so that the most up-to-date logos and images appear in documents created across the entire organization. This empowers employees to remain consistent across all internal and external communications.
Because Templafy’s centralized system manages the permissions access to document templates and digital assets for employees, you can upload all the new rebranded content and ‘go live’ with it when you are ready for your organization to use it.
Is your enterprise going through a rebranding process or struggling to make sure its corporate communication strategy is consistent at all levels? We at Templafy want to help, and invite you to get in touch.
Watch this short video to find out how Templafy can help your company stay on-brand and legally compliant: