Customer Story

Economist Impact: Launching a global brand during lockdown

Economist Impact leaned on Google Workspace to launch a new global business in less than 18 months in the middle of a pandemic, accelerating collaboration, unleashing creativity, and breaking down silos along the way.

Google Cloud Results

Created a new global business of 270 staff across 16 countries, with creative collaboration at its core

• Boosts productivity and creativity for employees working from home
• Improves collaboration and communications with vendors and clients worldwide
• Streamlines decision-making, removes inefficiencies, and accelerates the pace of business
• Eliminates distance constraints, improves teamwork, and strengthens personal relationships

Launching a global brand is a major undertaking under the best of circumstances. But doing it in the middle of a pandemic brings unprecedented challenges. Yet, that’s exactly what Economist Impact did.

In the spring of 2020, The Economist Group, a global media and information-services company made a strategic decision to launch Economist Impact —a new business that combines the diligence of a think-tank with the creativity of a media brand, delivering world-class research, analysis, and media products to a global audience. Working from a foundation built on Google Workspace, the company overcame pandemic work-from-home challenges, bringing the new venture to life in September 2021.

“Economist Impact was born out of the vision and new strategic direction crafted by our CEO,” explains Jamie Credland, SVP, Client Strategy and Marketing at Economist Impact. “Almost as soon as the finer details were agreed all of us working in the UK went into lockdown due to the pandemic. This did not dampen our spirits or our progress.”

Creating Economist Impact was tantamount to starting a new company. It meant hiring new employees, folding in several existing departments, bringing on new agencies, developing a new brand, and producing a variety of multimedia assets to support the launch. To succeed, the new organization needed to efficiently connect hundreds of home-bound internal and external contributors, and make it easy for them to collaborate on critical decisions, implement new workflows, and create compelling content across continents and time zones.

Boosting productivity

“Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides are so intuitive that no one needs training on them—even our external vendors.” – Jamie Credland, SVP, Client Strategy and Marketing, Economist Impact

“Once COVID-19 hit, we could not meet face-to-face to brainstorm or develop creative briefs and messaging,” recalls Credland. The company turned to Google Workspace to overcome distance barriers and unleash creativity. The Economist Group has used Google Workspace, and it's predecessor G Suite, since 2014 so the executive team understood first-hand how the collaboration and productivity solution transforms how people work.

Google Workspace helps the new organization eliminate inefficiencies, enhance collaboration, and accelerate the pace of business. “Whether it’s creating a sales deck, writing copy for a website, or drafting a press release, we spend a lot of time on Google Meet with a document open, working together doing live editing,” explains Credland. “Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides are so intuitive that no one needs training on them—even our external vendors.”

Google Workspace also helps reduce the frequency and duration of meetings overall—many hour-long weekly meetings have now shifted to half-hour or less check-ins. Team members work on shared documents or curated group Spaces outside of meetings, at their own pace, and get together on Google Meet to exchange ideas, fine-tune content, and resolve issues.

Streamlined decision-making

“We used to operate in silos. With Google Workspace we’ve now become a much more globally connected company. I can easily pull in an expert from Asia to comment on a proposal for a U.S. client.” – Kay Westmoreland, U.S. Commercial Director, Economist Impact

Economist Impact brought on a variety of outside firms to support the launch, including a new public relations agency, a media firm, and a brand agency. With in-person meetings out-of-the question, the company used Google Meet to hold virtual pitch sessions, with Economist Impact executives and agency reps participating from around the world. Google Meet made it easy to get all the key stakeholders together at the same time to ask questions, form opinions, and drive decisions, helping to streamline decision-making across the organization.

Google Meet is essential for onboarding new employees and for cultivating relationships, both internally and externally. Because of the pandemic, many team members had never met in person, and got to know each other only through Google Meet. “We added several new members to our marketing team,” recalls Credland. “We used video calls to get them oriented, and being able to share Docs, Slides, and Sheets in real-time really helped speed up that process.”

In addition to regular business interactions, Economist Impact uses Google Meet to host social gatherings such as virtual pub quizzes and wine-tasting events to bolster connections and strengthen bonds with agencies and clients.

Asynchronous collaborating across continents

"Google Workspace is integral to our working practices at Economist Impact. It allows us to operate as a truly global team, combining our expertise across the world to deliver the greatest possible success for our clients." – Claudia Malley, Managing Director, Economist Impact

Google Workspace also boosts collaboration across geographies. “We used to operate in silos. There was the U.S. team, the EMEA team, and the Asia team,” explains Kay Westmoreland, U.S. Commercial Director at Economist Impact. “With Google Workspace, we’ve now become a much more globally connected company. I can easily pull in an expert from Asia to comment on a proposal for a U.S. client.”

Economist Impact uses Google Drive as a universal repository for internal documents such as branding guidelines, and external content under development such as white papers. Contributors across the globe efficiently share files and work collectively, helping the company make optimal use of worldwide resources, accelerate deliverables, and maintain brand consistency across the globe.

Workspace has been fully integrated into the workflow when Economist Impact responds to client briefs. Sales use Google Forms to complete a briefing form to initiate a strategic group conversation. The solutions team works to bring the right people together to collaborate on the project, regardless of geography or time zones—the priority is pulling in the correct subject matter expert, no matter where in the world they are located. A mix of live brainstorms through Google Meet and asynchronous working sessions on shared documents allows the team to work nimbly to meet tight deadlines. Google Slides is then used to create the final presentation back to the client, often shared digitally and presented remotely through an external Google Meet.

“With Google Workspace, everyone worldwide can provide input as necessary, allowing seamless collaboration between sales, marketing, creative, policy and research teams. It has dramatically sped up the process of responding to client briefs and improved the quality of our work by ensuring the best people are always brought into the process, regardless of where in the world they are based," say Credland.

In addition, Google Workspace improves how Economist Impact teams communicate and collaborate with clients. "Google Workspace is integral to our working practices at Economist Impact,” says Claudia Malley, Managing Director, Economist Impact. “It allows us to operate as a truly global team, combining our expertise across the world to deliver the greatest possible success for our clients."

The company used Google Workspace to solicit feedback from external stakeholders, such as key clients, as it was developing its business strategy and launch plans. “Google Workspace made that kind of collaboration much easier,” recalls Credland. “We could share confidential information with them without granting edit rights, and give them a sneak preview without losing control of the process.”

Making an impact

“With Google Workspace everyone worldwide can provide input and the marketing team can easily update content as needed. It has dramatically sped up the process and significantly reduced the number of people we need to manage our external communications.” – Jamie Credland, SVP, Client Strategy and Marketing, Economist Impact

Economist Impact believes its unique combination of policy research and insights, creative innovation, and global influence drives business value and creates change. And Google Workspace helps them every step of the way. With Google Workspace, Economist Impact can improve insights by breaking down collaboration barriers and accelerating the pace of research. It also enhances innovation and storytelling across the organization by making it easier to create compelling content. At the same time, it is enabling teams to increase their influence globally by connecting the organization with clients and fostering strong relationships.

“By supercharging collaboration and creativity, Google Workspace helped us build a new business and launch a new brand, on an aggressive schedule,” says Alexandra Delamain, SVP, Global Client Partner at Economist Impact. “We continue to successfully navigate through a pandemic and enable employees and partners working from home, across the globe, to stay highly engaged and productive. Our best work is ahead of us, and Google Workspace is core to making it happen.”

Google Workspace is a client of Economist Impact.

*Google Workspace was formerly known as G Suite prior to Oct. 6, 2020.