Blue and orange hilly landscape reflected onto the ground

People are driven by one brand, one vision, one purpose

Thomas Ordahl of WPP’s Landor says that a company has a single brand that should perform across all audiences

 “There’s a long-held myth that a company’s people and its customers are distinct groups,” says Ordahl. “The reality is that they're all people, and they're all the same audience. They’re all motivated by the same emotions, desires and ambitions.

And yet, time and again we see organisations building employer brands that are quite different from the corporate brand. Landor says that making this distinction is flawed as both audiences make decisions based on the same brand experience.  

Transformation depends on people 

While business transformation increasingly revolves around technology, successful change depends on engaging with people. “Companies must bring all their people on the transformation journey with them,” says Ordahl. “We believe that the next wave of business transformation will depend on how well companies communicate with people and the relationships they build with their audiences. This is critical to achieving business transformation goals.”

And these audiences are both internal and external. “Companies need customers to drive revenue, but they also need employees to operationalise the strategy. That means attracting the right talent to transform and grow the business,” he says. 

Increasingly audiences – internal and external – are becoming aligned. “If you look at ‘purpose’, for example, we know that many customers seek to buy goods and services from businesses with purposes that align with their own values. Similarly, people want to work for companies with a purpose that is in alignment with them and their values,” says Ordahl.

People are also looking for an experience – an experience that is authentic from both the standpoint of the employee and the customer. “People want meaningful, authentic connections; they want to feel emotionally engaged with both their employer and the brands they buy,” he says. 

Technology blurs the lines

Social platforms increasingly serve many audiences. Without brand alignment the brand becomes confusing to all audiences. 

“Historically, marketing was externally facing. It was all about brand building, lead and demand generation, and product and channel management,” says Ordahl. “The culture of marketing was inspiration, innovation, disruption, risk-taking and long-term business growth.”

He continues: “Meanwhile, the people function, was focused on recruitment, benefits, employee development and wellbeing. People function behaviours were focused on stability, risk mitigation and compliance. The wiring of the two teams – people and marketing – was different.” 

But today, the function of these two teams has evolved. “Marketing is becoming a driver of business transformation,” says Ordahl. “Today, marketing teams must operationalise how the brand shows up in all aspects of the business including product innovation, customer experience, UX and UI.”

While all that is happening, we are seeing the people function taking on a more strategic role. Today, people leaders have a seat at the table with the CEO and are driving business transformation. “Partly it’s about getting everyone within the business to come on the transformation journey,” he says. “It’s all part of this shift in marketing to become more operational, and this shift in the people function to become more strategic.” There’s clearly an opportunity for partnership between the two teams. 

Two teams; similar KPIs

The KPIs for the two teams are remarkably similar. Be it customer churn versus employee churn, customer acquisition costs versus costs per hire, or brand reviews versus Glassdoor reviews, it’s easy to see the correlation. Landor maintains that, to achieve alignment, brand is the platform upon which partnership – between the people function and the marketing function – should be built. 

This takes collaboration. There are conversations about culture to be had, about ways of working and about sharing KPIs. Added to that, there is employee journey mapping alongside customer journey mapping to be done to gain insights on where the two functions intersect and how they influence each other.

Ordahl insists that brands must assume that everything that is being communicated – internally and externally – is being read by anyone. This is what is preoccupying the C suite – alongside tackling business transformation and influencing behaviour to achieve growth.

Ultimately, people are driven by brand, vision and purpose. There is only one set of these drivers.


Thomas Ordahl


published on

04 March 2024



Related Topics

Consumer behaviour

More in Communications

Digitally generated image of futuristic cubes, digital data flowing and network structure.

Healthcare communications – diverse, dynamic & different

Communicating about health and healthcare in APAC requires a nuanced and balanced approach

CVL Srinivas talking to Anna Hickey with text saying "Mechanisms that matter. Decoding the future of media agency models"

Mechanisms that Matter – How India is fuelling growth for global brands

CVL Srinivas tells Anna Hickey how WPP Open is fuelling a testbed for new working models, innovation, and automation.

Purple perspex panels growing in size from small to large, with a sunset in the background and water reflection in the foreground

Media in India: the future is now

Brands pursuing the Indian market must focus on personalised experiences and data-driven strategies