Reinvigorating ESOP Communication

Natalie Hill, Communication Consultant

BONK! If you’ve ever gone cycling and not eaten enough to sustain your ride, you could have hit a proverbial wall. How about an energy boost (like a Clif Bar®) to help keep you going. Have you ever considered that an ESOP needs good sustenance for the ride, too? As a company evolves, the ESOP communication should, too. Recently, Clif Bar & Company teamed with the Principal® ESOP communication consultants to reinvigorate its communication.

Since 2009, when the ESOP was put in place, Clif Bar has experienced growth with more employees, more products and other locations. This meant the company’s demographic also changed. Because Clif Bar had been using some of the same ESOP communication year after year, it was time to do something different—touch more on the employee ownership aspects and kick it up a notch.

Clif Bar is truly an amazing company with a culture to match; driven by 5 philosophical aspirations of sustaining their business, brands, people, communities, and planet. It makes sense that the ESOP is part of the ingredients that supports sustaining their people. New positioning and a refresh were suggested to make it front and center. Here’s what was done.

The refresh started with a robust communication plan. It mapped out what they wanted to achieve, and included the ideas and ways to accomplish it—to help them envision what was possible. As we all know, communication and making an association with culture doesn’t just happen on its own. It takes focus and effort to get it on track and keep it there. It’s also important to understand that it’s not only about what is done, but how it’s done.

The star in this adventure was creating an exclusive, internal ESOP brand—among other components that all work together. The brand incorporates their well-known logo, their key ESOP message, and their 5 aspirations designed as a tight group that incorporates a modern, gear graphic. It lets employees know that ESOP communication is gearing up to help them know more about what it is, what it means to the company and how it impacts everyone. The brand was central to driving how they changed up ESOP education because it aligns with where the company is at today. And they’re raising the bar on the communication effort and the employee ownership aspect using a high-impact, visual approach and incorporating the brand into all ESOP-related communication now and in the future.

So remember, just because something worked in the beginning, doesn’t mean it will work as you move forward and grow. Communicate always. Make it dynamic and flexible as evolution occurs and don’t be afraid to try something new!

If you’re looking to change up your approach and engage employees, contact us at 800-224-0144.

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