The Elements of Branding: Booz Allen Targets Internal ‘Customers’

Fire, Air, Earth, and Water.

When technical editor Ingrida Kalnins set out to change the way Booz Allen Hamilton’s publishing services are marketed to internal clients—other Booz Allen employees—no one would have predicted she would take things back to the basics. All the way back to Aristotle, in fact.

Booz Allen is a $5 billion firm with 80 offices through the United States and a core business of providing management and technology consulting work for the federal government. In other words, with more than 23,000 employees, corporations don’t get all that much more corporate than Booz Allen.

“We almost have to market our services to the rest of the firm so that they know what we do,” Ingrida explained.
Part of that marketing was renaming Visual Communications Services to Visual Communications Solutions—a one-word change that brings a shift in perception.

With a background in advertising, Ingrida was tapped to lead a team creating an internal marketing booklet. The idea was simple: Tell the clients what services—er, solutions—VCS provides.

VCS is comprised of four primary groups of specialists—designers, editors, printing, and proposal specialists. How could their interrelated efforts be represented visually?

Ingrida just so happened to have a degree in philosophy and remembered Aristotle’s four elements—fire, air, earth, and water. And, oddly enough, those elements kind of fit the four workgroups! Designers are the fire of inspiration. Editors and writers work with words and ideas … ethereal things. Print shop workers protect the earth by using recycled paper and nontoxic ink. And proposals … can be turbulent waters to navigate. VCS provides a lifeline to its internal clients—and Dragonfly Editorial, in turn, provides a lifeline to VCS, especially during workload surges.
VCS designers Aaron Bagby and Jaz Griffith created the fire, air, earth, and water logos; laid out a spiral-bound booklet showcasing the four groups and various paper and printing options; and set up an internal website. VCS staff members now use the elements logo in their e-mail signatures.

“Clients who we have never worked with before are reaching out to us. Our marketing is internal and we are establishing our group identity within the Booz Allen identity,” Ingrida said. “And creating this booklet has also been useful in bringing our team even more strongly together. We’re all critical elements in our publications world.”


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