Guest Blogger

At this month’s Internal Communications Director’s Forum we welcomed Gemma McGrattan, director of Synergy Creative, a specialist employee engagement agency and winner of CIPD’s HR Consultancy of the year 2016. In this follow up article she summarises her thoughts on how in today’s business world, culture and brand are inseparable.

“You can’t be special, distinctive and compelling in the marketplace unless you create something special, distinctive and compelling in the workplace.” Bill Taylor Harvard Business Review, Founder of FastCompany.

This statement summarises everything that we believe in at Synergy and it is something that we have been championing since we first set up the business 10 years ago.

But in today’s world it matters more than ever.

Why? Because the rise of social media, and the tech-savvy Millennial and Gen Z generations want something much more than just a good product from a brand. They want an experience. They want to share it, talk about it, learn from it and get that all-important emotional connection.

Brands have responded with everything from pop-up shops and experiential marketing to design-your-own-products like Jo Malone’s perfume and Adidas’ customisable trainers.

But perhaps what’s more important than these ‘big ticket’ ideas, is those everyday interactions with a brand. On the phone, in store, via email. It’s these interactions that can build advocacy, or destroy it.

Creating these moments is impossible without engaged, happy employees delivering great service. Without this, the rest of your efforts can be ruined in just one interaction.

“You can’t really think about your banks’ customers – unless you think about your banks’ people,” Bill Taylor Harvard Business Review,  Founder of FastCompany

Who’s getting it right?

At the Internal Communications Director’s Forum, we shared a case study of our client ODEON & UCI Cinemas. ODEON are streets ahead when it comes to their understanding of how culture impacts brand. And they’re even further when it comes to the sheer creativity and investment that they’re making in the area.

They embarked on a cultural change programme two years ago, working with us to create an employer brand from scratch and overhaul every single employee touchpoint from hire to retire. Since then they’ve achieved the highest increase in McKinsey’s Organisational Health Index (OHI) scores over a two year period ever seen.

Not only that, but their Net Promotor Score (NPS) has vastly improved and both revenues and attendance are up. This focus on creating an open, fun and rewarding culture, and a clear understanding of their vision ‘to create inspiring entertainment experiences for every guest,’ is having a tangible, real impact on customer experience and financial results.

What’s the stats?

Brands that are focusing on this ‘everyday’ customer experience are flying. A recent report by KPMG Nunwood listed the top 100 brands ranked by customer experience. It surveyed 250 businesses, polling 10,000 customers.

First Direct, John Lewis, Lush, Emirates and Amazon ranked 1-5. Some of these will not be a surprise at all, but some will be.

But what is perhaps even more surprising is the figures behind these rankings. Those in the top 100 have double the revenue growth of the FTSE 100. And those in the top 10 added an extra £43m to sales every year compared to those positioned 11-100.

How can I make this a reality?

For this to work, there needs to be a true alignment within the business. No more siloes! Marketing HR, leadership, comms, operations, Learning & Development and of course line managers need to be in it for the long haul.

Working together, you need to:

  • Create an empowered environment by giving employees freedom to make decisions
  • Have a clear company mission, and embed it across all levels of the business and ensure it is the basis of every decision made
  • Map the employee and customer experience – where are their crossovers? Make these as good as you can do
  • Ask, how closely is your organisation working? Break down any siloes so that you’re all working towards the same goal and striving for the same high performance culture and environment
  • Find out what makes your employees and customers tick and work towards making this the norm

How can we help you?

We’re an agency packed full of strategists and creatives who are passionate about internal communications and employee engagement. We work with brands as diverse as Vodafone, Argos, ODEON, Caterpillar, Ladbrokes and Kawasaki. If you’d like to talk to me about how we might be able to help you then I’d love to hear from you. Drop me an email on or call 0117 962 1534.

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