Crafting a purpose-driven brand for EY

REGENT’S CANAL – About a year ago, on 12 July, 2012, I got an email from the global head of communications at Ernst & Young, having just pitched for a big employee engagement opportunity:

“Would you have a moment to talk this afternoon – not about this week’s presentation, something different.”

“Something different” ended up being leading a project to help our client guide EY’s Global Executive team, including their new CEO-elect, through the process of discovering a brand positioning that would help them make the most of the biggest strategy refresh the organisation had undertaken in recent memory.

You get maybe two or three of these “once in a lifetime” opportunities in a career, if you are very lucky (or very good) – or both.

Today, on 1 July, a refreshed EY is rising.

What a difference a year makes.

A year of excitement, learning, the kind of challenges that board-level big-bet decisions present, and a definite experience of high performance teaming.

A year of more than my fair share of COemissions from long haul flights.

Since when has the Big 4 category been this exciting?  This is a team that has embraced the importance of integrity.  Clarity. Simplicity. A whole systems approach. A brand positioning that touches everything. Sustainability. Sponsorships. Talent attraction. Go to market strategy. Public affairs. Client service. Acquisitions. Offer. Employer value proposition. Alumni. The works.

A clear Purpose.

An explicit Ambition.

A confident Strategy.

A relevant, authentic Proposition/Positioning.

My over-riding sense is one of an organisation that has genuinely committed to building its brand from the inside out and doing all that “joining up” stuff I keep banging on about. An organisation that gets the fact that brand is more than a logo change.

It’s also a great example of co-creation showing in the work across digital, advertising, internal and external communications for all stakeholders from talent to clients to regulators and beyond. It helps to have good wingmen – client side, on our team and in the other agencies.

An inspiring start that comes at a perfect time for EY. It won’t be perfect. It won’t happen overnight. Rocks will be thrown. Stumbles will no doubt occur.

‘Building a better working world’  is the continuation of a journey to 2020 for EY.

I’m immensely gratified to have had the opportunity to be a part of it.

And I’ve never been so pleased to have lost a pitch.