Speaker Spotlight: Cathrin Lemoine, Global Internal Comms Lead, Dr. Martens

Dr. Martens is one of the most iconic fashion brands in the world. Marc Wright talks to their global IC lead and simplysummit speaker about their new digital workplace solution.

“People have such a deep emotional connection with Dr. Martens, we all have a story about our first pair of Docs if that’s from our youth or even childhood, or from our first day on the job,” explains Cathrin Lemoine, Global Internal Communications Lead. “That emotional bond is really something that is shared by so many of our wearers. It is not just what or who you are associating with your Docs, it’s making them your own and part of the expression of your Self. In our stores, we hold DIY workshops, where Doc lovers can make the boots and shoes their own. At work, we can’t help but check out in the elevators or the breakout areas what other people are wearing and how they made their Docs their own. My own favourite are a pair of 1461s iridescent crackle in gold – no customisations needed, for me, they are perfect as they are. Always a hit at the school gate.”

The kind of brand loyalty – where shoes become a personal and loved part of defining who you are – is something that cannot be bought. Dr. Martens celebrated their 60th anniversary last year, and for most of us the brand has become part of our cultural furniture.

So when Cathrin joined the organisation, she was very aware that the idea of a standard intranet would probably not fit the aspirations of the Dr. Martens brand and culture.

“I never wanted to call it an intranet. I wanted technology that enhances our experience of life at work. We have a beautiful consumer experience that is two-way, that is multi-channel, multimedia, that really takes our consumers on a journey. Why could we not have that for our own people?”

So she and a cross-functional team of creatives, IT, technology, Digital and HR, created Backstage, a personalised digital workplace and associated this new platform with creative expression.

Cathrin Lemoine

“Music is a massive lens for us at Dr. Martens. Musicians have of course adopted DM’s and have been an important part of our history, but – really – music is the heartbeat of the organisation and it runs through a lot of the stuff we do. Our brand values are “Our Brand on the Record,” our Performance Management approach is called “My Record.” Backstage was designed to pull the curtain back and give VIP access to all the good stuff our people want and need. Our champions are called the Stage Crew and our main stories are our headline acts.”

As with every other IC department the Covid crisis has pushed employee comms to the fore.  But Cathrin had only been in place for four months before the pandemic hit, so she had to move fast to establish these new channels.

“Leadership got involved very easily as comms has been so crucial during this period.  We have onboarded 400 people remotely and continue to grow at a fantastic pace. That’s why we needed somewhere to anchor us.”

This has meant, for instance, virtual Town Halls on a fortnightly basis with regular management briefings on how the business is doing.

“In the beginning, everyone was so hungry for connection, particularly our home workers but also our store teams. At the start of the pandemic, we closed a load of retail stores and suddenly our store teams were stuck to their homes instead of doing what they loved the most – talk to consumers about our product. Our consumers took to our online channels, and certainly kept our distribution centres busy. Some of our store teams reskilled to support social media community management and customer service to keep supporting our consumers.”

Backstage is available to all Dr. Martens teams around the DM’s world and across the organisation, from our store teams in Tokyo to the manufacturing teams in the Made in England factory in Northamptonshire.

The appeal of Backstage has grown through key initiatives such as a campaign on LGBTQIA+, where they used Pride events around the world to spotlight individual creative expression.  Key campaigns that have driven adoption of the platform are around the power of the individual and how they demonstrate that through activities. There are the obvious areas of individual expressions through make-up and tattoos, but Cathrin is keen to get the teams sharing about all forms of creative expression.

“2020 was our 60th anniversary. We encouraged celebration of our history by opening up the personal archives. We featured beautiful creative expressions in dance, video, collages and artwork – and this was before we had one place to share our pride and passion for the DM’s brand with each other.  Just try and stop our people from being creative. In our social communities on Backstage, we have a section just for our teams to talk about their side gigs: their artwork, their music, their Etsy Stores, and their many creative expressions. It’s so much fun to see and so crucial for our people to connect with each other on stuff that matters to us – in and outside of work. That’s all part of life at DM’s.”

Cathrin will be talking about Backstage and the role of internal comms in building the brand and the business – both through a pandemic and a successful IPO – at the simplySUMMIT on November 16th in London. For more information and to book tickets, click here. 

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THE AUTHOR

Marc Wright, simplycommunicate founder & consultant

Marc started his career in television. He wrote and produced the drama 20 Steps to Better Business for the BBC, and his passion for the way organisations work led him to run a series of agencies including Crown and MCA which was sold to WPP in 2001. He is author of the Gower Handbook of Internal Communications and is a former President of IABC EMENA. He founded simplycommunicate in 2005.

the author

Marc Wright simplycommunicate founder & consultant Marc started his career in television. He wrote and produced the drama 20 Steps to Better Business for the BBC, and his passion for the way organisations work led him to run a series of agencies including Crown and MCA which was sold to WPP in 2001. He is author of the Gower Handbook of Internal Communications and is a former President of IABC EMENA. He founded simplycommunicate in 2005.

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