WashingtonExec MARCOM Committee Discusses the Importance of Branding

MARCOM Dinner Photo

Katie Hotka (Sapient Government Services), Andrew Bryden (CSRA), Christina Frederick (Sapient Government Services)

In April 2016 the WashingtonExec MARCOM Committee met for an evening roundtable at Maggiano’s in Tysons II to discuss how to successfully navigate re-branding campaigns and work to mitigate potential pitfalls of corporate change. Additionally, the Committee reviewed the process of updating long held emblems and taglines, and launching an enduring mark that best represents a company’s distinctive identity.

Andrew Bryden, CMO of CSRA and Committee Chairperson, opened the roundtable with discussion on how corporate branding has changed in recent years and especially within the federal space. After more than 30 years in business, SRA International went through a rebrand in August 2014. SRA International then merged with CSC to form CSRA in September 2015.

To highlight best practices for companies, Katie Hotka and Christina Frederick of Sapient discussed their recent efforts facilitating a full in-house rebrand of the company’s public sector division, Sapient Government Services. Sapient is a consulting company that partners with federal government, nonprofit, and educational organizations to create a positive social change through strategy, creativity, and technology.

Hotka explained the importance of not only leveraging a unique visual identity to set Sapient apart from the competition, but also utilizing an “evolutionary” approach rather than a “revolutionary” to enable continued success and business growth as the company underwent ground-up change. The presentation also provided high level best practices for conducting a rebrand, which included considerations specific to the federal contracting industry as well as ideas for how to account for the increasing pace of change:

  • Create audience personas & appeal to your audiences’ long-term goals
  • Understand how your brand insights can positively influence your business plan and vice versa
  • Develop your brand for forward-thinking objectives rather than the here & now
  • Incorporate an emotional element to appeal to your audiences’ hearts & minds
  • Keep in mind that the brand is never done, it’s a constant work in progress that should be ingrained in every internal and external communication effort

Frederick also explained how companies like Sapient who are known for having a strong corporate culture and being very people-focused are looking at brand strategy with an internal and external mindset. “More companies who serve the public sector are now viewing branding as a strategic advantage that directly interconnects their story both externally and internally. This is reshaping the emphasis on the development of a brand story that is able to both speak to the market and personally resonates with the organization’s people.”

Adding to the connection of how branding efforts are impactful to internal cultures, Pankaj Sachdeva from McKinsey reinforced the importance of investing time & focus into internal communications and organizational change management. He highlighted the value in beginning brand efforts with properly planning for the internal element as a critical component of the project and overall success.

The evening roundtable was sponsored by Sapient Government Services. The 2016 WashingtonExec MARCOM Committee Leaders are Sheila Blackwell (FCi Federal), Alan Hill (Serco, Inc.), and Andrew Bryden (CSRA International).

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