A year of firsts and learning – Lessons from Ovato’s first year

Ovato Group Marketing

This February, we celebrate 12 months since the day we rebranded under a single umbrella brand. On our first birthday, we thought it was a great time to reflect on what we’ve learned over the last year, and to share some of the insights we gained as a business.

While any kind of company-wide transformation has its challenges, it’s also a chance for progression, growth and unity. We had the unique experience of bringing together more than 20 separate businesses, which offered many lessons on building and strengthening a new brand – from reinforcing our internal culture to fostering innovation.

Here are some of the key insights from members of the Ovato team that helped to steer the organisation through its big first year.

Ben Shipley – Chief Innovation & Marketing Officer

On embracing innovation and embedding it into the business

Driving significant change in any business is tough. Doing this in a business of over a thousand people spread across 14 sites, with a broad set of services across a mix of manufacturing and corporate roles, significantly compounds the challenge with scale. The way that my Ovato team members responded to this was amazing to see, and they are rightly proud of what they’ve achieved.

Our approach to innovation was to set up a small team that has permission to look at opportunities across any part of the business, to dip in and out of them and to build stuff outside the constraints of the day to day. This has been successful in allowing us to get to value much faster and has allowed us to open up opportunities across many parts of the business – such as the way we use and apply data to prove measurable impact and generate the most value for customer spend.

We’re living our tagline - turning audiences into customers. As a business, we’re always making sure we’re able to live up to that brand promise, and to do it in a tangible way that ensures it’s not just a line that we use. We have actual examples that we can point to where we have delivered more customers through using data applied to our client’s marketing challenge.

Katie Ashford – General Manager - Group Marketing and Communications

On developing a new brand

In our evolution from PMP to Ovato, we were mindful that the roll out of a new umbrella brand was a major change for our business, and much more than just a new name and logo.

For real change to occur, there needs to be a significant shift in ethos. However, as change can be unsettling, this had to be done with a sensitivity and awareness on the impact it would have internally and externally. The key to our success was selling our vision internally and communicating the benefits for clients and staff as a result of being one unifying Group.

We weren’t a start-up, but an established Group with key clients. As such, launch activities had to occur while maintaining ‘business as usual’. We were also conscious to pay homage and properly respect the previous names and identities of our businesses, even as we underwent our rebranding. Respect was, and is, a key element of any successful change.

The communications that came from the leadership team had to be very clear in articulating the journey we were embarking on, what we stand for, and who we are. However, a new brand doesn’t establish overnight. It requires constant investment, brand vigilance and clear guidelines to ensure all staff are aligned and ‘stay on brand’.

A year on it’s been really encouraging to see how everyone has come together with such a positive attitude, and we’ve been thrilled by the response of our industry partners and customers. We are making it easier for clients to navigate the Group and access our services.

Julia Farrant – Chief People Officer

On strengthening an internal culture when consolidating multiple sites and business units

Something we really aimed to do in the first year was strengthen the overall internal culture, even as we were consolidating our operations across multiple sites. After a year, we're in a great place, having identified our values across the organisation through positive employee participation during workshops run across all sites.

Creating a single culture out of at least 20 unique cultural identities, and everything that goes with that – the way they work, their modus operandi – is a real challenge. We wanted to engage with all our employees and get a sense of their experience of the change journey, as well as what they wanted from the future organisation.

As part of establishing our culture, we have identified five values that we feel resonate across the organisation, and we are in the process of translating these values into meaningful behaviours for everyone to live by. A new recognition framework will help us to shine a light on those who are active in role modelling the values. We’re also in the process of implementing individual plans at each of the sites that focus on what is needed locally to build the right environment for our people to excel in.

One of the lessons we learned was the importance of being flexible and allowing the realities and experiences of everyone in the business to inform the process. While you should always strive for the best, you need to recognise that things might not be perfect at the start, and it’s a constant journey. Thankfully, our people have been very committed to making the journey a success.

Kevin Slaven – CEO & Managing Director

On building a business in a time of significant disruption

The most important issue we faced with building the business was balancing the need for cultural change within the organisation while we were still working our way through the integration phase of our merged businesses.

The first thing we knew we had to get right was our communication. We needed to make sure that the broader leadership team knew exactly what the priorities of our journey were, and that they filtered them down through the various levels of the organisation. Being open and honest with everybody about what was going on was key.

The highlight of the last year was bringing the business together under the one brand – Ovato - and rightfully celebrating that big milestone. I believe that all stakeholders understood why we were on this journey, and the necessity for it. The site consolidation in New South Wales was also a big moment for us, as it allows us to move forward in an evolving sector with an optimal manufacturing footprint.

Besides that, there are so many green shoots regarding the work we’re doing in the data side of things. A big success for us last year - and something that we can take into the future - is that we can now show our customers the benefits of our broader range of services and how we can integrate these to add value to their business.

I know that successful leadership means listening and harnessing the power of others – and I’ve been thrilled to hear all the exciting ideas and developments from all parts of the Ovato business. It’s an exciting time to work in an industry that’s constantly changing.

Lessons and insights

According to Ursula K Le Guin, “it is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end,” and as you can see, it’s been a journey of massive change for Ovato, topped off by the unveiling of the expanded Warwick Farm print SuperSite.

The development of our new brand has been a 12-month process and counting. The work that went into creating a new brand has been fuelled by the enthusiasm and dedication of our employees, and thanks to them we find ourselves in a positive place, with a bright future.