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Internal Comms as a Driver for Transforming the Business

This year’s Internal Communications Summit just concluded last week in London, and for the nearly 200 Communications professionals in attendance, it was an inspiring, enlightening, and enriching experience.

Whenever this many communicators come together, it doesn’t take long before most everyone realizes that despite whatever differences there may be between our companies, or industries, or geographies—we all have way more in common. And this year, over the course of two days, we got to hear the inside stories of Communications teams that are truly transforming the way their companies do business.

Day One focused on the broad topic of the corporate brand—and more specifically—using Internal Communications practices to enable employees throughout the enterprise to better “live the brand.”

The opening presentation by CEB revealed the latest research on the power of “brand connection”, with the clear message that the best brands aren’t about the company itself, but the stakeholders the company serves, and focus on the “personal benefits” stakeholders receive by their choice to associate with the company.

That may sound like a subtle shift in brand positioning, but it can have a profound impact on business success.

We heard from Nanne Bos, Head of Corporate Branding for ING, who described “brand transformation in a disruptive age.” The Netherlands-based financial services company has re-focused its brand, not on how great and successful ING is, but rather on “empowering people to stay a step ahead in life and in business.” The process they used to create their new brand platform has been featured in full detail in a CEB/Gartner best practice case study that’s being shared with companies around the world.

Other highlights during the opening day of the Summit included a presentation from Kerry O’Callaghan from pharma company GSK, who provided insight into how their Internal Comms team is working to help build a more consistent global brand, and communicating the story of GSK as one company with global scale, but with a high degree of local relevance.

Jenny Burns of Just (a UK-based retirement financial solutions provider) shared the inside story on the creation of an interactive experience they created for employees to give them a chance to immerse themselves in the brand, during a day-long journey featuring hands-on sessions with company executives, customers and fellow employees from all divisions and departments—all of whom (in their own way) are living their new brand.

The day came to an end with a very lively TED talks-style presentation featuring four leading thought leaders (Ezri Carlebach, Mike Klein, Sheila Parry, and Dorian Cundick) expounding on “The Future of Internal Communications.” Based on their predictions, three things we can all expect going forward: Everything we will be doing will become increasingly more digital, measurable, and accountable.

Day Two featured a full lineup of companies who have been honored with major commendations in the 2017 CEB/Gartner Internal Communications Awards—sharing more of the behind-the-curtain details of the extraordinary work and accomplishments each of the winning companies have made in transforming everyday life at their companies.

Among the highlights:

Paul Thomas of Thompson Reuters took the delegates on a tour of their Connect Day—a global journey for employees designed to enable people across the enterprise to share the progress they’re making on the overall evolution of their company culture.

The data company Nielsen (best known for measuring TV ratings) discussed their strategy dubbed “Empathy is Everything” including a presentation-within-a-presentation called “Six Habits of Empathetic People” (And How to Leverage Them to Improve Your Internal Communications).

And one of the most data-intensive sessions was co-delivered by Matt Scott of Centrica (working in conjunction with Summit sponsor Poppulo) to “Transform The Employee Experience of Internal Communications” by measuring every imaginable detail of exactly which company stories, features, and information pieces are being consumed by employees—allowing the Internal Comms team to better understand information needs of different employee groups, as well as assess the impact of the team’s work on the changing sentiments and behaviors of people in all corners of the company.

If you are among those who joined us in London—we hope it was a fun and valuable experience. If you didn’t get to join us—we hope to see you at the 2018 Summit. Look for details to be released in the coming months, and be sure to block your calendars and diaries. It’s an experience you will not want to miss.


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