There are distinct marketing challenges when companies come together in a new brand. Having good intentions is a positive first step, but it all falls apart without adequate attention to employees and customer buy-in.
“Brand is about what the people inside the company represent,” said Claudine Dumont, Head of Marcom and Brand for Aptum, a global, multi-cloud managed service provider headquartered in Canada. “Having the right people and leadership is obviously key and letting them have their voice is the most authentic way to build a brand.”
An accomplished brand builder, Dumont joined ITWC President Fawn Annan in April 2021 for an installment of CMO Talks, a podcast series presented by ITWC to address pressing marketing challenges. Their discussion centered around the relaunch of Cogeco Pier 1 as APTUM and the importance of purpose- and culture-led change management.
Bringing the Executive Team’s Vision to Life
As part of Aptum’s executive leadership team, Dumont reports directly to CEO Susan Bowen, a practice that allows her to bring Bowen’s vision to life. “As a brand, we have to be able to position ourselves in a way that our target market understands,” said Dumont. “For me, brand has always been about reputation. To that end, we are working hard on gaining validation and accreditations via third parties to build credibility and enhance our capabilities.”
Dumont has an understanding of business challenges and how technology might help to address them. “Collaborating with others – particularly our customer-facing leaders – and listening to their real-life customer stories, really helps bring perspective and tangible insights,” she said. “As you know, a brand never rests. It’s a living breathing entity and should continually try to improve.”
Learning from Past Mistakes
In answer to a question from Fawn Annan about lessons learned from previous marketing positions, Dumont related an anecdote about the impact acquisitions had on the culture of a global engineering firm. “The firm had acquired a number of companies and had not integrated them from a brand standpoint,” she explained. “When the decision was finally made to rebrand the entire organization as one brand, we did not take into account how “married” the employees of the acquired companies were to their legacy companies. Even though it may have been years they were acquired, their allegiances were still to the former company.”
With that story in mind, Dumont prioritized inclusivity in the rebranding of Cogeco Peer 1 as Aptum. She also hired specialists in change management to help with the journey. “They spent time getting to know our end-goals, gathering input from employees, interviewing, analyzing and then working with us on a plan,” she said. “A key goal was getting employee buy-in and participation, and following through on their recommendations.”
Only a year later, the impact of this strategy is evident. Employees now act as internal cultural ambassadors and Aptum is recognized as a brand instead of a mix of legacy companies. “True communications need to be two-way,” said Dumont. “It’s not about being a megaphone announcing messages to employees, customers, media and analysts. It’s about listening intently, hearing what is being said, taking it in, and learning from it.”