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B&Q: A change of strategy needs a change of behaviour

If you need to launch a new strategy and a new brand identity, guidelines alone won’t do it. You need to change behaviour.

Angie Williams, the Brand Manager of B&Q, had joined the company recently. Her first job was to help reshape the brand to fit the new commercial strategy. She’d created brand guidelines in record time, and implemented the visual brand effectively. Now, she could see that she needed to change how people talked about the brand, and what people thought of the brand, both inside and outside the building.

Guidelines gather dust. Training brings them to life

The brand guidelines had been distributed throughout the company, but people’s writing hadn’t yet moved forward.

We knew from experience that training people in a brand voice isn’t about teaching people how to write. To change behaviour, you need to break people out of old habits.

To help people see for themselves what needs to change, we’ve created a linguistic framework that helps people to analyse their own writing objectively. (If you’d like to hear more about this, just ask.) On top of that, we’ve developed techniques to make people write in a way they never previously thought possible.

For example, we identify well-known people and brands who reflect a certain quality of the brand’s voice, and get people to imitate them in their writing. That way, it’s not Joe Bloggs who’s sitting down to write, it’s whoever the brand needs them to be. As one participant put it, “Verbal Identity made me use language I wouldn’t normally use to write for the brand.”

How to make change sticky

A single series of workshops doesn’t create lasting change in a group of people, so we also created an ongoing support programme for all their department heads and lead writers. We sent out regular emails, Yammer messages, and ran follow-up sessions, to make sure the change programme never ran out of fuel.

To embed the change into the company’s processes, we also created a simple scorecard for the brand voice, that anybody could use to review their own copy.

Better than we can say it

B&Q have asked us to work with them on several other projects since. Here’s some of the positive feedback we received from the workshops. Our average rating was 4.6/5.

Great presenters and pitched just right, unlike previous courses I’ve attended.

Really useful tips that I can use in future campaigns immediately.

Great session. Fell like I’ve come away with a lot.

It was really useful. Especially the top tips Al shared.

Thanks for making it a fun and engaging session. Was run really well with personality.

It was really useful to move from the ‘what’ in the guidelines to practical examples.

All the hints and tips really get you thinking. I liked how there were examples we could put into practice after the interactive activities.

Good communicators. Will share with my team.

Made me think I should use language I wouldn’t normally use.

Rewriting using different personalities was great.

I got the tools and techniques to use the Brand Voice in my own comms.

Felt very collaborative.

I found it insightful to translate copy into different styles.

Great interactive session with good, practical examples.

Really energetic and useful session.