Toni Pergolin called on employees to develop Bancroft’s brand Featured

8:00pm EDT August 26, 2010

Toni Pergolin had heard her organization’s name was confusing. As she thought about that, she realized she never heard people use the tagline. She never used it. And the logo — the logo was a decade old.

Pergolin, president and CEO of then Bancroft NeuroHealth, realized all signs pointed to rebranding.

The nonprofit came out of the process with the simplified name of Bancroft and a tagline of “One World. For Everyone.” Part of the success, Pergolin says, is due to the involvement of employees in the rebranding effort. From start to finish, they were asked their opinions.

“We had an open-door policy, and we encouraged people to speak up about it. Ask questions: Did it resonate with them? Is it powerful? Is it meaningful to them?” Pergolin says of the follow-up after the unveiling. “It was really educating, having them be a part of the process and then allowing them to give feedback.”

In 2009, Bancroft had a $95 million budget and 1,950 employees.

Smart Business spoke with Pergolin about how to involve employees in rebranding.

Educate your employees. We went out with the thought in mind that we have to educate them to make sure that they understand the vision of the organization and why it’s so important to them, why our mission is important to them. And what they do every day relates — how that links back — to everything that we do here. So the first thing we did was really educate them.

I think it’s important [that] it’s face to face. What we tried to do was link what they do every day, how they make a difference, to the end result. It’s different for every position and every program, so I think it was important that we could talk to the AP clerks and say, ‘Here’s what you do, and that’s why you make our organization better.’ We could talk to teachers and say, ‘Here’s what you do, and that’s what your link to the organization is.’

I continue to do that. Every time I speak within the organization, I always try to give an example of something that just happened last week or somebody needs this ‘One world. For everyone’ just to keep them very involved.

Be the one to educate. We went through a lot of discussion about it, and we did think it was important that the CEO went out because then you knew it was important to me.

It shows if it’s something that I would put time and energy into, that I think it’s important enough to spend my time on, then it certainly should be something that they should think is important enough for them to spend their time on.

I think that’s a key point. If they hear about it (from somewhere else), I think it’s an easy thing for rumors to start around, ‘Why are they doing this; why are they doing (that)?’

We didn’t really allow for any of that. We were very clear. We were excited about it. It wasn’t because we were trying to hide anything. It was very clear from the beginning what our focus was and why we were doing it.

Involve employees. We actually had (employees) be a part of the process, and I think that’s extremely important. When we rolled it out to them, (we could say), ‘This came from you guys. This is what we heard from you. You are the ones that decided what the brand was.’

They were part of the focus groups and the discussion; they were a part of the rollout.

That, I think, is extremely important, to get buy-in and their commitment toward it.

We would specifically ask questions like: Did you think the brand was powerful? What did it make you think of? How do you live the brand? How do you make this ‘One world. For everyone’? We would ask them pretty specific questions.

Reach out to everyone. We really take the initiative to invite anybody who wants to be a part of it. We do that in a couple of different ways, and we do this throughout the organization on anything we’re going to communicate.

Sometimes I’ll send an e-mail out saying, ‘I want your ideas,’ so I can touch a lot of people that way. I have regular lunches with the CEO for people who want to come and talk about their specific issues or their concerns or their ideas, so they can come through that way.

At the end of the day, as long as you give everybody the opportunity, people feel they’re a part of the process. Even if they don’t want to be, they don’t want (to share) an idea, at least they felt like if they wanted to, they could. That’s important. I would think it’s hard to say, ‘We’re only going to ask the managers, and we don’t care about the opinions of the other people.’

It’s good just to have them feel a part of the process. If they don’t connect to it, I think they’ll just not even care about it. If they see what they do, like, ‘Wow, I actually made a difference today. I made the brand; I made it one world,’ I think they’ll really connect with it and really talk it up.

Provide follow up. I talk about the brand everywhere I go to employees and outside stakeholders. I’m always making sure I say the words, and I’m giving examples about how we really live it.

We got just a ton of feedback unsolicited from those families, employees and donors. Anytime everybody would say something about it, I would immediately call back and talk to them about it. It was almost engaging them in it, as well.

I think that it is the CEO’s role to keep it going. If I never said the words, it would go away. It’s really part of my job to keep the excitement going. Everywhere I go, I talk about it.

Really engage them like, ‘Oh, what did you think about it? Did you think it captured it? Why did it hit you? What was so exciting to you about it?’

How to reach: Bancroft, (856) 429-0010 or www.bancroft.org