How Merlin Entertainments brought the magic of employer brand consistency to life on across the business

About Merlin Entertainments

Merlin is a business built on fun. Headquartered in Poole, the U.K., Merlin Entertainments is the world’s second-largest attraction operator and Europe’s number one. Every year Merlin creates magical and memorable experiences for over 65 million visitors across their 130 attractions, hotels, and holiday villages worldwide. These include the famous Madame Tussaud’s, iconic theme park Resorts like Legoland and Alton Towers Resort, right up to incredible indoor attractions such as SEA LIFE and the Dungeons. To bring the fun to life, Merlin Entertainments relies on the passion, dedication, and expertise of over 10,000 employees who work around the world in everything from pyrotechnics to PR.

The challenge

Today digital transformation has influenced many hybrid roles and created blended skill sets amongst the workplace. It meant that one-of-the-kind marketers like Natalie Mallory – Recruitment Marketing Executive at Merlin Entertainments, have to be digitally agile and adapt fast to the myriad of responsibilities her job entails. When describing her job, Natalie shares, “My role is a tricky one to explain. While my job is within HR, I help liaise with the marketing teams and the recruitment teams to ensure the employer brand and our team’s marketing efforts align. I also liaise with the different attraction brands and licensees within the Merlin Entertainments group to ensure everyone works seamlessly together and ensures our employer brand is implemented..”

When Natalie first started her role at Merlin, she noticed there was limited interaction and collaboration between the different teams she worked with. There was also a lack of creative content and on-brand collateral produced outside the marketing team. Natalie says, “When it came to creative content creation, we had to rely on just the marketing team to create stuff for us. Global teams didn’t have the same design resource and software that marketing had to support the needs of the employer brand.” The work that Global Recruitment Teams had to self-produce, which ranged from recruitment ads, marketing collateral to social media posts was simplistic, basic, and often lacked correct branding. Natalie continues, “Most of the creative work our team produced was made up of just a simple picture or photo as we didn’t have the flexibility to create intricate designs. With the tools we had we could only add text and logos over the top of images. The whole design would probably not be in the right pixel size for where it needed to be published or posted. And this was not good for the employer brand.”

And while the organization uses third-party agencies, the frustration of multiple changes even for minor photo updates, would slow down turnaround times for smaller jobs. “It was also time-consuming to get marketing to work on it for us as they had their own jobs to do. Plus, it meant a lot of back and forths.”

Natalie’s team also tried other tools, however, most lacked control, flexibility, and were not easy to use. On top of that, adding other design softwares like Adobe’s Photoshop, or InDesign was not cost effective for the team who were not designers. This was when Natalie introduced Canva for Enterprise into the business.

The solution

As it happens, Natalie was already an avid Canva user since her university days. It was back in 2012 when Canva first launched into the market. Bringing Canva for Enterprise into the business was exciting as some of her colleagues had heard and used Canva’s basic features. The Enterprise version opened up a whole new world of convenience, flexibility, and creative freedom. Natalie says, “It instantly modernized our way of working!”

Here’s how they did it

One of the most effective uses of Canva for Natalie’s team was the ease of creating presentations for their group to spread awareness about the employer brand and its offering. These presentations range from social media strategies and reports for senior management to promoting diversity and inclusion to reflect all Merlin’s employees’ different ethnic backgrounds or disabilities. Natalie has even harnessed the magic of Canva’s talking and video presentations to present Merlin’s training material, Career Day, and School Open Day events.

Natalie explains, “Using Canva’s presentation templates, I could easily work on any presentations needed and even download them as PowerPoint to share with the wider group.” As Merlin is all about the magic of entertainment and magical moments, the team utilizes thousands of photos. The photographs also had to be consistently updated on all our collateral to keep things current. Natalie says, “The templates have made it so easy for everyone to update photos and save time on last-minute changes. Plus, anyone could do it in real-time without having to create new versions and rely on the marketing team to do it for them.”

To make things even more efficient and to enforce brand consistency across the group from LinkedIn posts, social media, and their YouTube channel, Natalie set up multiple Brand Kits and created branded templates for the team to access. She says, “It just meant that we could trust people a bit more as we know they can stay on brand and feel secure in what they are doing, knowing that the perimeters are set.”

Natalie also created multiple brand kits for Merlin’s attractions like Sea Life, Legoland, and Discovery Centre. It allowed all the different brand teams to self-serve the brand assets and templates without adding to someone else’s workload and stay brand-compliant efficiently. In fact, Michael Best from Merlin’s sub brand Midway Attractions exclaims that publishing recruitment adverts has never been easier. “To be able to crop and trim videos and have all our brand kits available in one place is a huge advantage. I will never stop using Canva and always have it as an open tab ready for when I need it.”

Another notable feature Natalie took advantage of was Canva’s shareable folders which she uses to organize asset banks, brand-approved templates, fonts, colors, photos, videos, and design elements for each of the brands . It made it accessible for licensees to utilize what they need quickly and easily.

One of Natalie’s favorite tools on Canva is Background Remover as she works with a lot of photo images. Natalie concludes, “The main reason we use Canva is the ease-of use and accessibility no matter what we design – whether it’s creating YouTube thumbnails, videos or Social posts. It’s also cost-effective for a team like ours. I really can’t imagine life without Canva because it goes hand in hand with my job.”

Summary

Creating brand alignment in any channel is always a challenge for any organization, big or small. Easy-to-use visual communications platforms like Canva empowers anyone to design, helps increase productivity and inspires creativity on any channel through branded templates. Best of all, for Natalie and her team, she says, “Engagement has gone through the roof for us, and people are now really engaged with our brand. Plus, more and more of our colleagues beyond the Merlin employer brand are asking to join Canva, which is big.”

“It instantly modernized our way of working!”