8 Ways to Breathe New Life Into Your Brand: Suzi Williams

Learn the secrets of how BT has doubled its brand value since 2009.
Launch initiatives such as brand voice, which even the accountants like!

How to rejuvenate the world's oldest telecom brand
Suzi Williams’ initiatives helped double the value of the BT brand to $16.2 billion.

Imagine facing this challenge: Breathe new life into the marketing of the world’s oldest telecom company, founded in 1846. As Group Marketing and Brand Director at BT, Suzi Williams tackles exactly that challenge every day.

She’s rejuvenating the brand as BT strategically transforms its business – through initiatives such as sponsoring the London 2012 Olympics, launching new BT Sports channels and expanding into the mobile market.

On joining BT in 2006, Williams found that “BT had spent years hiding its light under a bushel. Back then we were very much a company and not a brand.”

Strategic initiatives helped doubled the value of the BT brand to $16.2 billion since 2009. (Note: U.K. accounting rules enable exact valuations of brands, used in merger and acquisition accounting.)

Among Williams’ triumphs is an initiative under which one-fifth of BT employees learned to speak in BT’s brand voice.

“We’ve saved or made BT many millions of pounds through getting our tone right more often. Imagine – a simpler call center script reduces call times by 10%. In a company like BT that’s not just a happier customer, it’s a very substantial cost saving,” she observes.

“Tone of voice is one of my favorite brand initiatives. That’s because it costs so little and delivers not only a simpler, better, warmer brand experience, but it also saves money, and empowers and engages at the same time. So even the accountants like it.”

Here are 8 actionable insights from BT:

1. While strategy and data are essential, instinct, insight and zeitgeist are important too.
2. Hire people and agencies that push you and inspire you.
3. Understand that the brand is much more than a logo – it’s a way to touch people.
4. Be clear about what the brand stands for.
5. Build a brand through the actions you take, not just the words you say.
6. Create show-stopping moments for the brand.
7. Manage tone of voice, both to make customers happy and save money.
8. Measure brand value and actively manage it, top down and bottom up.

For more about BT’s brand rejuvenation, see my story in Global Telecoms Business magazine (free registration).

Follow Suzi Williams on Twitter @suziwilliamsbt

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