Revolutionary Times

Practical change: a revolution in thinking


For me, May Day conjures up a host of conflicting images: demonstrations by various communist, socialist or anarchist organisations; military hardware rolling menacingly through Red Square; children dancing round May poles; May Queens and Morris Dancers. It’s a little difficult to see a common denominator connection between these seemingly disparate events, but there is one: change.

The protesters demand change. The military parade used to demonstrate the power to effect change. The May Pole dancers are part of the ancient festival to welcome the change from winter to summer.

The amazing thing is that May Day is celebrated, in one form or another, across the entire globe. Given that it is so ubiquitous, perhaps the desire for change is a basic human characteristic.

I think in general change is perceived as a good thing. It can signify facing the future, moving on…improvements. But there is a great divide between the idea of change and making it happen.

I am in the business of change. I create brand identities with the sole objective of changing the commercial profile of a company for the better.

This is not about dreaming up pretty logos. It is about devising creative strategies based on business objectives, and then creating a visual and verbal language

that is consistently applied to every communication. It recommends more efficient processes; it identifies markets and messages; it requires adequate budgets and, most important of all, it defines how the business behaves.

None of this can happen without appreciating first of all that things will inevitably change.

So when a CEO tells me that he wants a new, creative, ground-breaking, inspirational, impactful, famous identity,
I tell him that he and his board are likely to find the process more challenging
than me. A lot of his people will have their comfortable worlds changed. And far from welcoming that, most people will resist change.

Depending on the commercial need, the CEO will then jump one way or the other.

If his motivation is necessity or even fear and he understands that by not grasping the nettle his business will eventually fail, he is more likely to bite the bullet and get on with it. If his priority is simply to not upset the staff and the board, then he will duck out.

There is a misconception in businesses that creative people or creative agencies are responsible for effective creative solutions. The truth is that any project is a partnership between the client and his creative experts.

Effective creative work never comes from ‘safety first’ or clinging onto received wisdom; it comes from a partnership with a bold CEO who is prepared to embrace change. Let’s celebrate courageous CEOs – including some of my clients – who embraced change.

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