What success looks like: Transformations that think differently

To take a comprehensive view on creativity and its role in business transformation, Deloitte Digital and LIONS investigated several sources of information. These include:

  • 26 Creative Business Transformation Lions pieces of work were analysed to distinguish the key differences between winning work and the rest of the field.
  • Eight interviews with shortlisted and award-winning agency-brand teams to understand exactly how they went about implementing their creative business transformations.
  • Four interviews with Creative Business Transformation Lions jurors provided some insight into how the most successful creative business transformations were identified.

A measure of success

Two hundred pieces of work were entered into the 2020/2021 Creative Business Transformation Lions, the inaugural year for this Lion. Fourteen pieces of work made the shortlist and, of those, just seven won a Lion. Of course, this Lion is not the only measure of success in this realm. There are many ways success can be defined, and each of the 200 pieces of work entered into this Lion were successful by most financial and creativity standards. But the purpose of the Creative Business Transformation Lions is to recognise the very best creativity that drives businesses forward by changing how businesses organise themselves, how people work and how customers engage with them.

Growth does not need to come at the expense of creativity. In fact, when applied correctly, creativity can be one of the most impactful drivers of growth. The Lion-winning work provides examples of how creative thought can extend beyond marketing and advertising to positively influence an organisation’s approach to people management, financial planning, brand evolution and, as a result, growth.

The power of infusing creativity into business transformation

When we compared shortlisted and award-winning transformations against the rest of the field, we found several factors that set these transformations apart and led to significant growth of the bottom line:

Creativity pushed the scope of transformation far beyond standard business objectives.

The brands that succeeded in winning a Creative Business Transformation Lion recognised that to be truly transformational, they needed to expand the scope of the transformation beyond the original brief or business objectives. In doing so they also re-aligned the metrics of success to the new scope of the transformation. The most dynamic transformations evolved the original brief to fundamentally change how the business operates.



This resulted in both positive marketing and financial results, but often contributed positively on a societal and cultural level too. For instance, the original brief delivered to the creative team for Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold was the creation of a Superbowl ad that would help introduce this new, sustainably produced, organic beer to the market. Picking apart the information the team realised that a much bigger transformation programme to invest in organic farming would show ABInBev’s true commitment to sustainable production, and help promote the beer as a result. The transformation produced 18% growth for the business, but, perhaps more significantly, also led to converting 4% of the United States’ barley farmland to organic.4

A proactive innovation of existing business models.

The most creative brands proactively sought out opportunities to reinvent themselves prior to external factors forcing their hand. Bronze Lion winner, United Rentals, a construction equipment rental company, created an easy-to-use digital tool to help its mostly analog customers drive efficiency. They created a “decision-making hub for the moments when things don’t go as planned on the jobsite.” The digital toolbelt gathered and shared data on equipment that sat idle on construction sites, allowing it to be rented out when not in use, saving customers money. Not only did it increase fleet efficiency by 30% for customers, United Rentals experienced a 66% increase in digital rental revenue.5



A relentless pursuit to better understand customers.

Consistently, award-winning companies deeply ingrained themselves in the lives, passions, and careers of their customers. These brands used the knowledge gathered to mutually benefit both their own company and customers. When Michaels, a large U.S. arts and crafts retailer, saw its market share shrink, it took a step back to truly understand its customers. “We spent time in their homes, dug deep in their Etsy profiles, intercepted them in store and in their online lives. Time and time again we saw a striking behaviour—they didn’t light up talking about the supplies they were making with, they lit up talking about what those supplies enabled them to create.” From this exploration, they redesigned their stores from a “coupon driven retailer to a brand that champions Makers.” The results: nearly a 14% increase over comparable stores.6

4Results gathered from the Creative Business Transformation Lions work entered.