How LifeWorks rebranded itself during COVID-19

Get practical, helpful insights from a pandemic-era corporate rebrand case study.

Lifeworks homepage--the leader in wellbeing

A corporate rebrand is never easy. Try doing that during a global pandemic.

LifeWorks, the global well-being solutions business formerly known as Morneau Shepell, faced this issue during the past year.

Rod Cumming, LifeWork’s VP of global corporate and internal communications, recently shared insights and takeaways from the company’s rebrand with Ragan’s Communications Leadership Council.

Here are some lessons from the call.

Creating one vision, one voice

Morneau Shepell, LifeWorks’ former nom de entreprise, has a long history of growth spanning 55 years. In recent years, the company made several acquisitions and became a much more global presence—far beyond its beginnings in Canada. Now, with 7,000 employees, $979 million revenue in 2020 and clients in 160+ countries, the company wanted to position itself in a manner more befitting a truly global operation in the total well-being space.

Following several years of market research, the company made the decision in late 2020 to proceed with the new LifeWorks name. This new name aligned well with the company’s purpose—”Improving Lives, Improving Business”—and its refreshed corporate narrative as a leader in providing digital and in-person solutions that support the total well-being of individuals, and by doing so, helps clients improve their business.

Project approach 

Cumming says these six guiding principles drove the rebrand:

LifeWorks rebrand principles

A company rebrand obviously touches every aspect of an organization’s operation – IT, product, sales, operations, HR and so son, so to ensure the effort resonated throughout the entire organization, the LifeWorks team engaged about 25 “workstream leads” to help fuel the rebranding charge:

LifeWorks_project structure

The LifeWorks team also established key internal comms objectives, which included driving cultural renewal while respecting regional differences and paying homage to the company’s rich history.

Lifeworks Objectives

To further strengthen companywide messaging, LifeWorks assembled a group of 70 brand ambassadors who could champion the rebranding campaign. Cumming says the brand ambassadors were asked to:

  • Help colleagues embrace the change by communicating with peers.
  • Use supplied messaging materials to help their teams and engage in employee interaction.
  • Report back to leadership on findings related to rebranding adoption.

LifeWorks engaged employees to fuel this change. In a series of employee videos, Cumming says, one employee shared – in a song – why he was excited about LifeWorks’ new image and brand. The employee sent a personal uplifting message to his team/co-workers, which gained a lot of positive attention. That just goes to show that your most effective “influencers” might already be in your midst.

[FREE GUIDE: The State of Corporation Communications 2021]

Cumming says the company’s other internal comms activities in support of the rebranding included CEO messages, global employee webinars, promo videos and intranet resources to spread the word.

He says, once the new name and brand was finalized and the decision to move forward was made, the tactical rebrand took five months, from start to finish. Here’s how that looked:


In response to the rebrand, Cumming says his team asked colleagues to do 10 things to support the transition:

  1. Update email signatures.
  2. Update voicemail.
  3. Notify contacts.
  4. Update Teams backgrounds.
  5. Join the webinars to learn more.
  6. Update Microsoft templates.
  7. Update LinkedIn profile.
  8. Share the news on social media.
  9. Get familiar with new brand.
  10. See what is being shared with clients.

Cumming states the company’s intranet, called Panorama, became the “single source of information” about the rebrand. The intranet pages that presented all new branding resources, templates and assets, as well as a page listing the “10 things to do” to spread the word about the corporate refresh. He says the push resulted in a 253% increase in intranet pageviews, among other messaging successes.

Cumming offers takeaways from the exercise, including:

  • Touting the effectiveness of a brand ambassador network, which he says was effective and also “the right thing to do.”
  • Singing the praises of videos featuring employees, which “helped drive employee engagement and excitement and gave different perspectives on why the rebrand was good for different people.”

For others thinking of embarking on a similar exercise, Cumming advises:

  • Keeping in mind that some areas of the business will accept adoption quicker, and some will offer more resistance – work closely with those areas.
  • Recognizing that full adoption is a “journey” that takes times – while the name change took place on a specified date, the conversion of assets would take time.
  • Realizing that lack of in-person connections may limit opportunities to celebrate and drive even greater excitement.
  • Having all templates and assets ready on Day 1.

For more help with practical, real-world corporate comms challenges, apply to become a member of Ragan’s Communications Leadership Council today.

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