Building Faith in the Future with a Celebration of the Past
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Holmes Report

Building Faith in the Future with a Celebration of the Past

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown – a Baltimore-headquartered international investment bank—had suffered severe blows to employee morale after undergoing two mergers in four years.

Paul Holmes

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown – a Baltimore-headquartered international investment bank—had suffered severe blows to employee morale after undergoing two mergers in four years. The community’s fear that the firm would leave Baltimore, negative press coverage and bad word of mouth by employees who left the company compounded the problem. Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown asked Shandwick to help formulate an internal communications program to focus on  the 200th anniversary of the company’s founding—a milestone rich in significance because of the firm’s celebrated past successes and its promising momentum for the future as part of global banking leader Deutsche Bank.  Shandwick developed a communications plan to boost employee morale, build the firm’s credibility with employees and reinforce positive employee perceptions with positive public perceptions.


The firm’s 200th anniversary was a watershed event for the company, as its celebration had been anticipated by employees for years in advance. In light of recent merger activity, as the anniversary year approached, embittered employees were doubtful whether the anniversary of the founding of Alex. Brown & Sons would even be acknowledged by the now International management team of Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown.  How the newly merged company chose to utilize this opportunity would set the tone for operations moving forward.  Shandwick was retained to plan an entire year of anniversary celebrations that re-energized and redirected employees.


  • Interviewed Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown executives to better understand the challenges confronting the company 
  • Conducted extensive focus group research with several groups of Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown employees of different lengths of tenure with the organization to assess their concerns and receive input on matters of communication and employee recognition. 
  • Analyzed press clippings  that covered the two mergers  
  • Reviewed existing collateral material from Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown to gain a better understanding of the company, its offerings, and current style and tone in communicating with employees
  • Reviewed company history and employee suggestions to gain insight into company values that would be important to emphasize in a campaign to reassure and motivate employees


Objectives of the program were to (1) identify Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown’s key obstacles with internal audiences and analyze how to best overcome them; (2) identify potential morale building communications strategies and venues beyond the traditional internal vehicles; (3) marry the internal communications program with the plans for external celebrations of the firm’s 200th anniversary; (4) provide objective information to shape and guide the company’s long-term internal communications strategy; (5) enhance positive employee perceptions with positive media coverage and positive word of mouth; and (6) instill a sense of pride, excitement and ownership of the firm’s 200th anniversary plans.  


Shandwick determined that a year-long mulit-faceted celebration would provide the best opportunities to build trust with employees, and to build contagious excitement within the community, which contributed to the firm’s efforts to bolster morale and build excitement internally.


Shandwick developed a comprehensive plan that included the following components:

  • Creation of an anniversary symbol that would be recognizable and meaningful to all employees from the merged companies, incorporating the heritage and values of the old company with the future-oriented, positive outlook of the new
  • Anniversary “preview” communications, event and lapel pin  were developed to first announce the plans for the anniversary year to employees, build credibility and create buy-in
  • Anniversary-logo sheet cake was delivered to Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown employees in advance of the anniversary kick-off
  • A slow build of external anniversary announcements was purposefully planned to first allow employees time to embrace the anniversary and then support any public announcements
  • A large charitable giving and community service component was developed in response to employee input that the 200th anniversary plans should recognize the firm’s philanthropic spirit and history
  • Publicity planning and evaluation on an ongoing basis throughout the year to identify publicity opportunities and maximize media coverage of Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown’s employee-driven tradition of philanthropy and service
  • External media relations program throughout the year to support internal messages 
  • Employee commemorative anniversary items and catalog were designed and produced in response to employee request to bring back the old company store that sold logo-imprinted items 
  • Anniversary sponsorships, such as that of OpSail 2000, were negotiated to include value-added opportunities for employees such as family day events or volunteer opportunities.
  • Employee invitations were created and produced to be distributed to every employee in advance of each anniversary event  
  • Email from the CEO  was sent to all employees regarding anniversary and company news and events
  • Employee follow-up communications, from memos to banners, were developed for use by Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown to reinforce with employees the positive impact of the firm’s anniversary events
  • A revision of the old Alex. Brown history book was prepared and will be distributed to employees to marry the firm’s most recent history with the longstanding heritage, culture and values of the organization
  • All anniversary-related speeches or remarks include recognition of employees
  • Printed materials for the anniversary are dedicated to all the firm’s employees, past and present
  • A “Celebration in a Box” template was designed for easy roll-out in other Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown office locations
  • An inspirational employee video is being produced for various internal uses


An increase in employee morale and job satisfaction levels was reported by Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown senior management, from the CEO to HR representatives

Positive media stories and features regarding Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown appeared in local print and broadcast media for the first time in 4 years. 

Employee attendance at, and enthusiasm for, anniversary events exceeded senior management’s expectations
Employee anniversary commemorative items were well received and used by employees.

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