- An international airplane design and manufacturer generating $3.25 B in revenues
- 33,000 employees worldwide from 6 acquisitions that had for the most part retained their identity and culture
- The parent company brand was based on a reputation for recreational vehicles and trains
- The new Division brand would be introduced at the Le Bourget Air Show
- Making the external brand relevant and meaningful for employees. The work until that point had focused exclusively on external stakeholders
- Bringing Le Bourget to employees and employees to Le Bourget. Most employees didn’t know about the Air Show. If they did they saw it as an executive boondoggle. Few employees attend the Show. Of 33,000 fewer than 300 [mostly execs] would be there
- Marking the moment. The first day of the show would be the first public introduction of the brand. How could we mark the moment with employees around the world?
- Getting access to employees. The majority of employees are unionized with limited access to meetings or conversations with their direct supervisors, computers, messaging, etc.
- Getting internal communication on the agenda at the Air Show. The focus and energy of the executive and the communication team is on media, sales and business development.
- Engaging Directors and up. Internal communication was viewed as the responsibility of the communication function and relatively unimportant
Prior to the Air Show focused on the senior team – Directors and up:
- The Brand Road Show. Over 400 Directors and VPs participated in small informal group meetings over 4 months where they had the opportunity to ask questions and begin to discuss the business implications of the new brand
- Regular e-mail updates from the VP Brand and Communication on brand planning, next steps, a clear call to action as appropriate and an opportunity to provide feedback
- A few days before the Paris Air Show they each received a briefing package from the President. It included a covering letter and supporting materials: Key Messages, “What our people will see”, and a copy of the brand launch video [show cased employees and was shown on a mega screen at Le Bourget] and instructions on how and when to use the materials with their employees
During the Air Show
- The internal TV network launched branded templates and new content including historical “innovation moments” to support the brand messaging as well as more competitive and industry related information
- Every employee with computer access opened their computer to find the new branded screensaver and wallpaper.
- All Directors and up received a daily e-newsletter that told the story of Le Bourget – interviews with executives and employees working on the site, photographs, customer feedback, sales and competitive facts, historical facts, etc. It was published first thing in the morning NA time for the 4 commercial days of the Air Show so our people had “real-time” news.
- Directors forwarded, printed and posted the daily e-newsletter and/or used these and the other materials they’d received in their meetings with their people
- Senior management received daily briefing packages (by e-mail or on site at their hotel rooms across Paris) that included more information on our business announcements, competitive intelligence and daily news
- Feedback was overwhelmingly positive. There was a strong support for the new brand. Employees felt part of the single most important commercial event in the life of the business and saw how it brought together and showcased their efforts on the world stage. A formal survey was delayed and then cancelled due to 9/11.
- There was recognition of the importance of internal communication and management’s responsibility as employee communicators
- The communication principles, tools and processes developed for the launch continue to be used
- The internal communication function was transformed from reactive to proactive: a regular advisor to the President and the senior team on important business decisions and announcements, played an important and strategic role with internal clients