Earlier this month, EVRi (formerly Hermes), one of the UK’s best known delivery companies announced a complete corporate rebrand in a likely bid to remove itself from its toxic brand identity.
At the centre of the rebrand is its new “customer-centric” approach. This is much needed since evidence of customer parcels being treated like footballs and new recruits given instruction to “act dumb” upon receiving complaints came to light. Ethics and education at the very core of the business appear to have gone badly awry.
To launch these messages, EVRi has called in the big media buying agencies to orchestrate a six-month campaign across TV, social and influencer marketing highlighting the personal ties between customer and delivery driver. This ticks many boxes and when EVRi’s executives come to assess whether the media campaign has been a success they will likely find that awareness of the rebrand is high. Bravo!
But the communications and PR element of the programme, which will be responsible for establishing longer-term brand trust will be less simple. The general public has always included sceptics and critics whose dim view of a business is only exacerbated when they, their friends and family have been burned by bad service. As a result, the campaign, which may produce eye-popping viewership metrics, is unlikely to hold water with sceptics and critics who need to experience better service, not hear about it on TV.
The challenge of establishing change, rather than erecting window dressing, will be all the tougher in the world of modern communications. The interface between businesses, their stakeholders and consumers is fast, multi-faceted and multi-lateral. Change will have to be experienced by customers, not just told of by the CEO or advertising.
That is not to say that the paid media campaign is a “bad” idea, but the damage inflicted on the Hermes brand by its employees and unimpressed customers will take years to undo. EVRi’s PR team will be working hard to communicate this long after we’ve all forgotten about this very expensive campaign.
Critical to these years of undo-ing is the realisation that EVRi cannot simply utilise communications as a service to paint a picture of the business that is only skin deep. Communicators know how to influence audiences, but the best ones know that the art of lasting persuasion lies in substance, not style. Connecting EVRi’s operational overhaul to its audiences is the remedy here, so embedding communications in that operational overhaul is an important next move. Let’s see if they make it.