ACS’ new Brand Project has the potential to completely change the way the organisation works and the services it delivers, it was revealed last week.

Detailed to the broad membership during a presentation by ACS CEO Rupert Grayston and President Ian Oppermann on 23 August, the Brand Project was initiated early in 2021 to take a comprehensive look at the broad perception of ACS and the services it delivers.

“One of the key things we need to do to ensure ACS’ relevance into the future is take a hard look at ourselves,” said John Chatterton, ACS’ Director of Marketing and Commercialisation and lead on ACS’ new Brand Project.

“We need to look at how we’re perceived in the industry, whether we’re genuinely delivering on the needs of members and how we interact with the industry and the professionals that work in that industry,” he said.

More than 2,300 members and stakeholders and nearly 100 ACS staff were surveyed as part of the project, and that work is being used to inform the shape that ACS will take in the years ahead, including the operational structure of the organisation and the services it offers.

“The results of the survey were incredibly useful,” said Chatterton.

“It revealed some areas where people were happy with ACS and what we do, but other areas that need a lot of work to get them to a place that our members and we are happy with.”

The findings of the survey were presented to the ACS Management Committee (MC) and Congress in June, along with some possible new organisational structures to support the changes.

“We recognise that different groups of members are striving to achieve different priorities,” said Chatterton.

“The reality is that a data scientist probably has about as much in common with a frontline support worker as they do with a sales manager or car mechanic.

“IT covers such a diverse set of roles that we can’t go with a one-size fits all solution. We have to look at ways we can deliver value for specific members and that may even require a major change to how ACS operates.”

Plotting the path ahead

According the Chatterton, the Brand review and Five-Year Strategic Plan (revealed at the same time) are deeply intertwined, and the latter will inform and direct the Brand Project.

The Strategic Plan development team (known internally as Project Dovetail) is due to complete its work in March 2022 after consultation with members and other stakeholders, and the Brand review will develop from there, depending on the outcome of Project Dovetail.

Much as in Project Dovetail, Chatterton says that ACS is taking a member-driven approach to the brand review, starting with creating an understanding what priorities members are trying to achieve and the pain points preventing them from achieving those priorities.

He noted that ACS will be considering the products and services different member groups currently use, along with substitutable competitors, to inform the development of value propositions later this year.

Ultimately, ACS will develop a value proposition aligned to the priorities of different groups of members, laddering up to a master-brand proposition for the organisation.

That operational model, naming and branding will be decided by ACS’ elected members in Congress and MC.

“One of the important things to understand is that, when we’re talking about ‘brand’, we’re not talking about the name of the organisation or a sticker on the building – though that may come into play – we’re talking about how we interact with and are seen by the industry and professionals,” said Chatterton.

“Brand covers and touches everything we do. It’s about how we communicate; it’s about the services we offer; it’s about how we see the industry and are seen by the industry and professionals.

“Changing the brand is about changing what we do. It’s not a marketing exercise – it’s a whole-of-business approach to delivering on the things our members need in a way that is useful for them.

“If we can do that, if we can deliver better on the needs of individual members, then we can ensure that ACS remains relevant for technology professionals across Australia and will serve as the credible and trusted go-to organisation for technology knowledge and guidance into the future.”