We Are Here
A special employee publication for TransCanada.
Winner of Bronze Quill Award of Excellence, Silver Leaf Award of Merit and Gold Quill Award of Merit for Communication Creative
Prior to 1998, TransCanada was primarily a Canadian natural gas pipeline company with some diversified international energy assets. Though it played a critical role in delivering energy from Alberta to eastern Canada, the company operated in a heavily regulated environment and had a reputation as a somewhat “sleepy” utility. That all changed in July 1998, when TransCanada merged with NOVA gas. At the time, it was the largest energy merger in Canadian history, creating the fourth-largest gas pipeline company in North America.
However, within a year, the company was not performing as expected. The company’s prized dividend was cut and the share price plummeted. There were significant changes in leadership and a subsequent new “fix and focus” strategy set the stage for retrenching.
Over the course of the next decade, TransCanada turned its business around and transformed itself into a major independent energy infrastructure powerhouse. Today, TransCanada has assets spread throughout the continent, has expanded into the U.S., built a major gas storage business, and diversified its power business by engaging in hydro, wind power, retail power, and investing in nuclear.
Most research on change management agrees that closure and recognition of the past is critical to moving forward. As well, important—and difficult—business lessons were learned in those 12 years. Several members of the executive team saw a limited time opportunity to commemorate history and record the lessons learned through the creation of a special limited edition “coffee table” style book for employees which are made up of 4200 people in three countries, seven provinces, 31 states, and almost 250 locations.
Our specific goals were to 1) Increase employees’ understanding of the recent history of the company by more than 90% to say that reading the book increased their understanding of the company’s history. 2) Increase employees’ understanding of the business, its vision, mission, strategy, and values by more than 90% to say that reading the book increased their understanding of TransCanada’s business, how it is delivering on its mission and vision, and how it lives according to its corporate values.
To ensure this was more than “just a history book,” the key messages needed to align with the broader internal communications strategies of building employees’ business acumen, reinforcing their core values, and generating confidence in the company’s leadership and its future. These messages were endorsed by the executive sponsors early the planning process and embedded in both words and pictures throughout the story.
Initially we researched various keepsake anniversary books from other companies for their content, readability and visual appeal. We also had several meetings with TransCanada’s internal communications department in order to get a better understanding of their corporate culture so that we could develop design concepts that would resonate with their diverse workforce.
TransCanada wanted to use a storytelling approach and every creative choice we made was in support of this. Due to the nature of TransCanada’s business, and the number of engineers and technicians on staff, maps and technical drawings are part of the company’s DNA. We wanted to acknowledge and reflect this dominant aspect of their culture in the creative approach and developed a map/journey metaphor that runs throughout the publication—using actual maps in the visuals and adding latitudes and longitudes to photo captions. We also realized early on that we needed to be inclusive of all their employees so we conceived and created a mosaic of TransCanada employees made up from hundreds of images in the shape of North America for the cover.
In December 2010, six weeks after book distribution to all employees, TransCanada conducted an initial pulse survey (instant poll) to measure initial readership and reaction. 852 responded to the poll, 728 (85%) of whom had read some or all of the book. 64% provided positive comments in an open-ended question. 22% said it was a good history/reference book. In June 2011, a final readership survey was conducted, after all publicity was complete and the digital editions were released. 964 responded to the survey and the final results showed that all the targets set in the initial objectives were met.