Jonathan J. Halperin
Jonathan J. Halperin
Designing Research, Communications
and Strategies for Sustainability

Case Studies: Communications, Identity and Marketing Strategy

 

Branding is about how people experience an organization and its work. It is much more the colors in the logo or the tag-line. Branding is at the core of corporate identity: internal organizational culture, values, customer and stakeholder experience, and communications strategies. Brand is the defining link between an organization and its customers.

 


Case I
US Nonprofit Revitalizes Brand and Chooses New Name to Expand Services and Reputation

 

Situation

Successful national organization with leadership reputation faces transition. Death of founder, highly distributed structure, with regional consultants and small head office, leads to diffusion of message and brand with key audiences and clients. Built around an internationally respected and creative but somewhat arcane methodology for conflict resolution, organization now working at local, regional and national level on myriad issues with policy, business and nonprofit community. Help is sought to chart future, solidify brand and build robust organizational platform to honor major contribution of founder for many years to come.

Actions

We are engaged as consultants and design process for assessing priorities – from people to themes and locations. Audience analysis initiated alongside competitive scan and communications audit. In-person leadership coaching via facilitated meetings as well as telephone sessions. Positive and negative aspects of organizational identity (as distinct from founder identity) inventoried and assessed. Open-ended brainstorming sessions paired with structured training and analysis.

Results

Leadership team empowered to more fully make changes and disaggregate history and methodology from mission and vision; clarification of language and messaging, leading to greater effectiveness; organizational growth and increased fundraising, expanding service capacity; rationale for wide geographic and issue approach now supports brand and identity; organizational name changed along with core marketing language, enhancing impact and recognition.

 


Case II
Global Energy Company Anchors Business Success in Deep Cultural Knowledge of Critical Market

 

Situation

Entering a new, critical, and multi-national market major global energy company embarks on ambitious upstream expansion. Concerns about global reputation and license to operate quickly arise among stakeholders, potential partners and suppliers and within upper echelon of the host governments. Media is replete with stories of major global companies stymied in market entry efforts. Reputation management seen as key to operational success.

Actions

Multi-year effort launched to understand and track shifting public and leadership attitudes, knowledge, and core values related to key aspects of energy sector operations. Stakeholder engagement and assessment, political risk analysis, due diligence research, and partner evaluations undertaken to ground executive decision-making in deep knowledge. Extensive briefings, executive role-play sessions, analysis and coaching provided to internal and global executive team to support design and execution of multi-country business strategy. Traditional survey research techniques adjusted to local traditions (lack of phones, for example) and complemented with extensive field investigations.

Results

Communications and business strategies altered in accordance with our analysis and recommendations, building partnerships and trust with essential stakeholders. Client taps appropriate partners and vendors, leading to unparalleled success in markets that have bedeviled its competition. One of the largest engineering projects of the century successfully completed and operating; expansion underway. Firm enjoys strong license to operate from government and stakeholders -- enhancing retention, reducing regulatory costs, and securing positive media. Culture of dialogue embedded within organization, enhancing global and regional reputations.

When I began to unhook from SustainAbility in 2008, after 20+ years, to co-found Volans, Jonathan was working with the US end of SustainAbility — and sent the London end of the Volans team a large cardboard box of multi-colored felt rocks, which initially I couldn't make head nor tail of. I thought he was mad, or overly American.

But I have to say that, over time, those felt rocks have become a central feature of the Volans culture, thrown by team members at other team members (or guests) on the slightest provocation. That aside, he's a consummate professional, creative collaborator, skilled communicator, and keen intellect—and I am delighted both to have had Jonathan as a colleague and to now count him as a friend.

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