John Ainley, group HR director at insurance firm Aviva, writes about the company’s rebrand and how employees were engaged in the changes.
When companies go through a rebrand, the measure of success is usually judged to be how well the change is perceived by the public. This is of course crucial, but it is not the full picture. Key to any company’s success is not just keeping customers happy but inspiring employees; they are some of our most important stakeholders and ambassadors and, without their commitment and engagement, change will not be delivered successfully.
Aviva’s move to a single global brand has played a pivotal role in the transformation of our business and is a key driver in establishing “One Aviva” – a company united behind a common goal of delivering for customers through recognition. From the start, our HR and internal communications strategy was, and continues to be, essential to the success of our business transformation.
The vision of the Aviva rebrand creates one integrated business, centred around our brand promise: “no one recognises you like Aviva”. We are now a global group with 46,000 employees across 28 countries, but have roots in the 300-year-old heritage of Commercial Union, General Accident and Norwich Union which merged in 2000.
The move to a single brand has not only helped to create a more unified business that understands individual consumers’ needs but also one that can compete more effectively on a global scale.
In order to bring our new brand promise alive for our people we introduced an employee promise, mirroring our external commitment to customers. At the heart of our approach to HR and internal communications is the sentiment: “At Aviva, I am recognised for who I am and what I contribute matters.” In recognising our employees as individuals we believe that in turn makes them better placed to understand the needs of our customers.
To bring the employee promise to life for our people we have introduced a raft of new internal communications tools and HR practices across the business. A new global company intranet – Aviva World – provides an essential tool for information-sharing, collaboration and mass communication. Recognising the importance of cultural and language differences, we’ve begun translating the site into different languages: French, French Canadian, Italian, Polish, Russian, Czech, Turkish and Lithuanian have been introduced to date.
Global intranets are by no means a new idea, however, taking inspiration from social networking sites, we have ensured that Aviva World is highly interactive. Our business and social forums encourage open and honest communication and are a fantastic mechanism for sharing ideas and best practice across the group.
The intranet also plays a key role in bringing to life Aviva Day – introduced in 2009 to mark the name change from Norwich Union in the UK – and now an annual event. The 24-hour global virtual gathering anchored by employees and senior executives included online discussions on what recognition meant to them.
Employees are also encouraged to organise their own activities to mark the day – which have included fund raising and volunteering. For every pound raised by employees, Aviva matches that with a donation to our global community investment programme Street to School. This year we raised more than £100,000 for the cause.
Alongside this we’ve introduced the Customer Cup where teams across the group were tasked to come up with ideas to improve the customer experience. Teams have to submit business plans outlining ideas which are evaluated by a voting panel to find a winning team whose idea is put into practice. This is now an annual event and has become an effective way of motivating employees to think even more about the customer experience, value their own ideas and to get to know their colleagues better by working in teams.
Through all this, we want to communicate one message to our employees: our people are our best brand ambassadors. We need to listen to them. By doing this, and by involving them in our One Aviva strategy, we’ve created a team who are striving to recognise each other, and recognise our customers.
It’s early days and there is some way to go but our strategy is starting to pay dividends – Aviva now ranks among the UK’s top 10 most valuable brands, according to the 2010 Brand Finance Global 500 survey. And at our full year results this year, our customer numbers were up to 53 million, with customer satisfaction levels increased.