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Changing Your Brand Can Be Like Herding Cats

05/08/2013 05:37 EDT | Updated 07/08/2013 05:12 EDT
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gray tabby cats snarls at...

We've all heard the saying "It's like herding cats." As challenging as that might be, it's not much more difficult than building consensus with a global committee: everyone has a different view, and often a territorial approach to meetings. In fact, while herding cats is tough, creating a brand change in corporations may be even tougher.

One person, in my experience, who can build global brand consensus is Paul Haft, president and chief colour officer at Haft2. He does it with a simple business-change theory that I use daily in my work with global corporations: conceive, believe and achieve.

Black and Gregersen in their book Leading strategic change: Breaking through the brain barrier (2002) examined barriers to change and drew certain conclusions as to why some leaders may have a problem understanding the need to change their leadership styles and organizational culture. Leaders who experience barriers to change will have some difficulty with the movement to change. As they start the change process, many leaders will get lost and be unable to finish the move effectively, taking solace in that with which they are familiar.

This reluctance to change is similar to being "blinded by the light" and conveys the attitude that "smart people don't try new things." To counteract these problems with instituting change, the authors advocate the development of an attitude that can be summed up by the "conceive, believe, and achieve" mantra.

A leader needs to conceive of ways to initiate change that will enable followers to see the need for change. Enabling followers to define why change is needed will enable a leader to move beyond the first barrier. The second barrier is a lack of belief in change. A leader needs to get others to believe that they should adopt change. To do this, the leader in change can provide resources and rewards to get followers to act. Finally, to combat the third barrier, a leader needs to help the followers achieve the change. To do so, the leader should present champions who have succeeded, thereby demonstrating success to followers and communicating a plan to keep change moving.

You may think navigating personalities in a global committee and building consensus is only a macro issue for large global firms, but that's not the case. Every day, a leader's job is to build consensus from competition. Every unit wants to do what its members feel will be most profitable for them, while the leader wants to create a global presence that drives a strong balance sheet for every unit. This is true for corporations and for global charities.

Today is world ovarian cancer day and Mr. Haft and his team were charged in January 2013 with building the logo and global identity for this group of driven and passionate fundraisers. They needed to change their individual approach to global presence to end this killer. They had three goals for the new global brand 1) ensure that all women would be aware of the symptoms, 2) provide knowledge and support to women living with the disease, and 3) work with the medical community to end this disease.

To get the job done on time and on budget, Mr. Haft and his team followed Black and Gregersen change theory and took a close look at the organization working to understand what drove each team to raise funds and build awareness of this deadly disease.

To conceive of the change and the new brand, the Haft2 team interviewed the global team over the phone to establish a baseline. "We had no preconceived notions. We knew this team understood what needed to be designed because many of the women we interviewed were survivors of this insidious cancer," said Paul Haft.

To create belief globally in the new brand, the team culled the data and highlighted what ties the worldwide groups together versus what divides them. Finally, to achieve the change and build a new global brand, the team determined from the data the potential fundraising value of the differences between the groups.

Using the conceive, believe, achieve theory, the Haft2 team avoided the pitfalls of command-and-control change and built a brand that will raise funds and we hope lower the death rate and the desolation that comes with this dreaded diseases. Imagine if you could do that with your firm five months.

To attend Dr. Mary's workshops in May 2013 The Power of Two: 13 conversations that will help you make the sale (Toronto and Arkansas) email chantelb@dbtc.ca