Capital One

How Capital One drove Employee Engagement through experimentation



Capital One is one of the top six credit card issuers in the UK, employing around 800 employees out of its Nottingham base. At the start of 2011, Brian Cole, the CEO, launched his long-term Vision for the company. The strategy was called “Let’s Make Lives Better” and focused on four main goals – including truly meeting consumer needs and having a culture of innovation.

Launched at the beginning of 2011, early evaluation indicated that whilst the Vision was known throughout Capital One, it was very much seen as the CEO’s Vision by employees.


  • Help employees engage, understand and develop a commitment to the mission
  • Empower employees through personal ownership & delivery of strategy
  • Create a sustainable vision for Capital One

What we did

The campaign launched with a Vision Day in June 2011, involving all employees. On arrival at the office, each person was handed a Vision booklet – a clear, detailed guide to the Vision. This booklet also contained some stickers asking employees four questions about the Vision – employees were encouraged to answer these, and stick them on a Vision wall.

They then went to a Vision Challenge Briefing Session, which was inspired by the popular BBC TV show “The Apprentice”. The session took place in a room totally transformed into a TV studio set, with an “Apprentice” style boardroom. Brian Cole walked onto stage and started talking about the culture of innovation aspect of the Vision. At this point a film ran which suddenly saw the room transformed from the usual boardroom to something more akin to artist Banksy’s studio.

TV presenter Alex Zane, who was chosen to host the event, then appeared on stage and began by introducing the Vision Day challenge: a task to create a 30 second viral film to communicate the Vision. Employees were split into teams of 10 and went to their team area. They were given materials designed to stimulate their creative thinking:

  • Film can with a camera and briefing instructions
  • A blank storyboard
  • A “talent card” which gave them access to a specific talent pool such as lookalikes, break dancers, singers free runners, etc.
  • Props which linked to their talent pool; e.g. the team that had a Captain Jack Sparrow lookalike received a treasure chest and some toy swords!

Teams had 90 minutes to devise a concept, storyboard it and prepare for filming, then 30 minutes to film. At the end of filming, employees made their way back to the TV studio for a wrap up session with Alex and Brian.

All of the clips created on the day were posted on the intranet and employees were asked to vote for their favourite. A DVD with all of the 64 clips was given to every employee.


  • 98% said they understood why the vision was important for Capital One
  • 97% said this was the right way forward
  • 89% declared they knew how they could contribute to the vision.

Don’t just take our word for it – Brian Cole(CEO, Capital One UK) was astounded by the results we achieved:

“Emma was brought in to help us establish a communications strategy to embed a newly established vision for our company. In the end, Emma did more than support our work, she was a thought partner, no, a thought leader who brought creative approaches that worked incredibly well. The next time my company needs consultant work done on communications, I know we’ll call on Emma.”