Focus: People Management - Coaching session with Stephen Bubb

Stephen Bubb is chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (Acevo). Send your questions to

Q: I have a fuddy-duddy chief executive. Our image is old and needs a makeover. How do I persuade her?

A: A fuddy-duddy chief executive? That's very hard for me to believe!

Your brand is incredibly important. The way your organisation presents itself through its logo, the layout of its website, its publications and its general communications is also incredibly important. It is your front door, and you want people to walk in through it, not turn away.

Of course, some people argue that substance is more important than style.

Fortunately, such people are a dying breed. Substance must be there, but if your style is dull, will anyone notice?

Beware false impressions

The impression you create about your organisation through your branding can give away a lot about you. If people see rather old-fashioned logos, names and images, they might draw the conclusion that you are like them.

This may be wrong, in which case it must be sorted out.

Some people shy away from rebranding because they think it is too costly and too time-consuming, or they might think they have better things to do. Have you discussed this with your chief executive? If so, what was her reason for not doing anything about it?

You are obviously worried about this, so you should tackle it. Look around for designers or consultants who will do you a very reasonable and inexpensive job - perhaps you will even find someone who can do this pro bono. But beware. There are some very expensive people out there who glory in time-consuming exercises that involve them asking staff and trustees silly questions such as "what kind of animal are you?"

You may even be able to come up with some suggestions yourself. Do some of your colleagues have ideas?

Change the branding

One of the first things I did when I took over at Acevo was to change the branding. We had no money, so I found a brilliant person who did this for a couple of hundred pounds. At a stroke we were able to give the organisation a more dynamic, clean and professional look. And last year we even tweaked the logo a tad to keep it up to date. On that occasion I got a pro bono designer. If your chief executive is an Acevo member, perhaps you should suggest that she gives me a ring and I can give her a few tips.

Of course, branding can sometimes be a matter of taste, but on this issue I agree with Oscar Wilde, who said: "I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best."

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