A conversation with Rich Kylberg, Vice President, Global Marketing and Communications, Arrow Electronics. Attend the 6th National Summit on Strategic Communications on May 4-5. Hear Rich describe how he and his team are transforming the Arrow brand — turning 10,000 Arrow employees into content contributors.
UF: What has been the most rewarding part about the rebranding process at Arrow Electronics?
RK: What’s been the most rewarding has been to see and feel the positive impact that this has had on lives of people who are involved in this company. Whether that’s employees who are now feelings like “Wow — I am working for a pretty cool company. I didn’t know that we did this all around the world. I didn’t know what we believed really.” You see employees who have a great sense of empowerment.
Then you see other indicators outside the company that this stuff is working, like the stock price has all but doubled since we started these initiatives. Our bottom line hasn’t doubled and other aspects of our company haven’t doubled, but our stock price has. To the extent that our stock price measures into the markets, we can make impressions of what our future looks like and that has to do with our messaging. I think we can lay some claim to snip with there.
The reward has come from helping people to have that third element (meaning). I’m not really helping anybody to get food, clothing and shelter. That just comes from their paycheck. That paycheck can come from Arrow, or it can come from Starbucks, or it can come from anywhere. To a certain extent, we can have some impact on making the job fun. When you’ve got hundreds of offices, it’s hard to control that and make it fun everywhere. The one thing we can do is give people a sense that their work matters, and that there’s some meaning behind what they do. And not so much them necessarily independently, but as part of a collective whole.
I think that, internationally, we have given Arrow employees some meaning to their work through this messaging. And that’s what’s been most rewarding.
UF: What challenges have you faced during this process?
RK: What’s been most challenging has been the inherent obstacles that have been in the way all along this process. Any time you are trying to transform a corporation, or trying to transform something, that word transform is fairly synonymous with change. And change is fairly synonymous with doing things differently.
Anytime you are going do things differently, a lot of people are going to say, “Why on earth are we going do things differently when we are doing them really quite well today — Thank you very much.” The term “different” doesn’t mean…”different better” all the time. It could mean “different worse.” Because we are so darn good at what we do, I think there’s a better chance of your “different” being “different worse” than your “different” actually being “different better.”
The fundamental baseline that we’ve had to operate under for the last four years is this notion that we’ve got to change things. We’ve got do things differently, and we’re going have to do this in an environment that’s designed to stop that kind of thing from happening.
I tend to believe that those challenges are what actually make the job of the communicator and the marketer so exciting. I don’t necessarily think it’s that exciting to figure out how to market the next potato chip by just following the standard guidelines and creating a funnier potato chip ad.
I really try to break through and change people’s lives and the way that people look at the world. Welcome to the world of formidable challenges, but also welcome to the world of the potential for great reward.
The worst thing that ever happens to communicators is when the messenger becomes bigger than the message. Maybe they ought to “shoot the messenger.” That’s kind of who I am. That’s kind of who we are in that room. We are the messengers.