BQ TALKS with Amanda Clay-Jones, Telefónica


Brand Quarterly talks with Amanda Clay-Jones, who leads on all things brand for O2 and Telefónica across Europe.  An expert on external and internal rebrand and cultural change projects, she recently led a 30,000 employee project that won four prestigious awards last year including; ‘The Best Change Communication Campaign’ at the European Excellence Awards.  Before that, she made history in the Czech Republic.  Leading an international team on the biggest brand launch the country has ever seen when Czesky Telecom, Eurotel, Telefónica and O2 merged into one.

Currently Amanda is working on the integration of Telefónica, O2 and E-plus in Germany, and was kind enough to share her experiences, along with an inside look into Telefónica’s internal branding and brand guardianship with us.  Thank you Amanda!  Check out our conversation below…

BQ – There’s often a lot of discussion on what constitutes a ‘Company Brand’. What’s your opinion?

Amanda – Telefónica is one of the world’s largest telecoms companies with more than 260,000 people working in 25 countries. We’re the parent brand of O2 in Europe, Movistar in Spain and Latin America, and Vivo in Brazil.

The outside world will always know us by those brands. But within Telefónica, we wanted our people to feel like one global family, to be united, to have one belief and one strategy. And that meant bringing them all together under one employee brand, (or company brand) Telefónica. In Europe, that meant O2 people became Telefónica people.

Put simply, the employee brand is all about uniting your company under one set of beliefs so employees know exactly what is expected of them. Giving them a purpose and an identity to live the brand and enthusiastically deliver the brand promises. The employee brand goes hand in hand with employee engagement, which is all about attracting talent and retaining your best people (Beyond a decent salary or a successful career).

BQ – What do you believe are the key business benefits of implementing a Brand Guardianship programme?

Amanda – The overall objective of Brand Guardianship for Telefónica is to manage a living and evolving Brand; to allow every communication to flex and be relevant, but still be coherent and clearly O2, Movistar, Vivo or Telefónica. Our process offers helpful advice at the right moments, rather than at the end when creative is almost complete – this allows for greater involvement and ultimately better output. My team act as internal consultants and see everything through guardianship from TV campaigns, to Internal comms to sponsorship activations, even text messages to customers.

The key benefits are;

  • Protect the brand locally and internationally to retain brand value
  • Grow the brand value for our shareholders, by offering great advice to every area of the business so we’re all doing effective communications
  • Save money across the markets by re-using proven best practice
  • Mitigate risk by ensuring that we do not infringe other brands’ trademarks and assets. And ensuring we effectively use our own in a way that helps protect them

BQ – As project leader for one of Europe’s largest employee brand engagement programmes, how were you able to measure the programmes success in terms of employee buy-in?

Amanda – Setting clearly definable objectives and targets is essential in any project so you can track success and improve for next time. We had two key measures. The first was based on internal employee feedback and the second was analysing campaign success.

Internal surveys and online forums:

We run a six monthly and an annual survey called ‘Reflect’ which captures how employees are feeling about their job, their manager and the company. We added some questions from which we found out 100% were aware of the programme and could communicate the messages. And 77% were very positive about the effect of the programme and how they now felt about Telefónica in only six months.

Campaign measures:

  • Hits to our microsite – 22,000 in two weeks.
  • How many pages read – 47,000
  • Average length of time spent on the site – 2 minutes
  • Percentage of people opening and reading daily emails – 76% read daily emails.
  • Number of people entering for the daily competitions 10,000 people entered
  • Online training, the number of downloads – 97% managers downloaded

A key part of the engagement campaign was the creation of a Europe-wide network of project champions called Sharers (recruited from every corner of the business) to convey from the ground up all the practicalities and key messaging the internal re-brand entailed. Once recruited and briefed by the HR and Brand Teams, we armed them with all the knowledge and tools they needed in the form of a Sharer’s programme and a briefing. They had instant and senior formal feedback channels so we knew good and bad what was happening so could address it immediately.

BQ – What differences have you found in developing an employee brand compared to a customer/consumer brand?

Amanda – I often hear getting CEO buy in for employee engagement projects is difficult. Employee engagement is one of the most strategic moves a company can make. And getting your employees to buy into your vision and values will directly impact how they will deal with your customers. Highly engaged companies outperform competitors by 27% (Bersin, Josh). What’s more customers are twice as loyal to brands with higher engagement scores (Gallup). And most tellingly, 86% of customers would pay for a better customer experience. Which means investing in the employee brand is in my view essential for the external heath of the consumer brand and the loyalty and satisfaction of your customers.

Developing an employee brand successfully in my experience needs a cross functional team mainly from HR, Internal comms, and brand. Whereas a consumer brand will often engage different teams from brand, marketing and comms. Both need the same rigorous research, but the methods will vary. Launching an employee brand internally you need to create drama, surprise and excitement, in the same way you would externally. Storytelling and tone of voice play a key role in bringing the vision and values to life in way that employees not only understand, but buy into emotionally and then act on. The messages and campaigns need to be clear and be communicated in innovative ways. Get as personal as possible, we micro targeted teams and individuals to be as relevant as possible.

BQ – For a company in the initial stages of building their employee brand, what is the number one piece of advice you would give them?

Amanda – Get buy in from the top. The CEO and board need to back it. There must be a board level project sponsor and it must be a regular item on the agenda. To win hearts and minds and truly change a business culturally takes strong leadership, a dedicated budget, and a passionate cross functional team. The pace of which you can drive change depends on your people. They need to understand the role they play in that change and get taken on that journey.