Fashioning a culture to be proud of


By Mandy Thorndyke

For almost 150 years N Brown has been helping people look and feel amazing. As the parent company of brands like Simply Be, Jacamo and JD Williams, they’re a major player in the UK fashion industry.

After a period of transformation and growth, they’d moved from a primarily mail-order business to an exciting digital enterprise. Their whole identity was changing. Their people were tired of all of the change and it was important to give this change purpose and meaning.

A business on a mission

With a newly defined vision, mission and purpose, the Executive Committee were keen to ensure this landed well across the business to give a new sense of purpose to colleagues.

So, in partnership with the People team, we embarked upon a period of research which included surveys and workshops across the whole business. The purpose of the workshops was to test the sentiment behind the new vision, mission and purpose and also to develop values, behaviours and an EVP.

Finding our ‘North Star’

The research helped us frame the MVP so that it had real meaning for people from across the business. It provides the perfect balance of clarity and inspiration. It gave us real direction and became the ‘North Star’ that the business had been searching for. It was the perfect guide for the journey ahead, the next step of which was laying the foundations of their new culture with a new employer value proposition, a powerful suite of values and a clear set of behaviours that colleagues could live by.

A badge to wear with pride

Up to this point, all our research and development had shown us that people really were proud to be part of the N Brown family. There was passion, there was heart and a real desire to help each other thrive.

This thread ran right through the MVP, proposition, values and behaviours. But now it was time for it to take centre stage and become the message that would bring everyone together.

“Proud to be N Brown.”

This was a phrase N Brown had used in the past, but somehow it had lost all meaning, despite the fact that our research showed that this sentiment was truer now than ever before.

We knew that with the right positioning and a splash of our creativity, we could reinvigorate this idea and bring it back to life as a message that everyone would recognise, embrace, rally round and share.

We’re proud of the results too

From day one, we were raising smiles and turning heads. Wall vinyls were secretly installed ahead of the big reveal – a launch event (complete with a DJ), party atmosphere and cupcakes for everyone.

The business has really got behind their new people brand, driving engagement across huddles, intranet pages, social media and competitions. We can’t wait to see how N Brown’s culture continues to grow and develop in the months and years to come.