Repositioning Staples EMEA to a more service-focused business.


THE BRIEF: Staples Europe was in the process of pivoting to a more services-focused business and needed to reposition the brand to help break out of the crowded Office Supplies category.

THE CHALLENGE & OPPORTUNITY: Staples was at risk of becoming a business that time forgot: Not only were they stuck in a commoditised, declining and dusty category where customers chose the status quo without really thinking about it, digital disruptors like Amazon were steadily stealing share. The problem was that after neglecting the brand for years in a product-out race to the bottom, customers were left with few reasons to believe. Simply put, they needed to differentiate, or they faced disappearing.

We went back to Staples’ core equity as a people-first brand, and the core belief that better space = better work. If we led with a promise of helping people get more out of their space, we had an opportunity to take Staples from being seen as a provider of office supplies to being valued as a true business partner.

THE INSIGHT: To get Staples’ core audience of Small Business Owners and Small Office/Home Office customers to rethink space, we needed to connect around an emotional, universal insight. One thing they all had in common was wearing so many hats (legal, maintenance, IT, office manager, sales, etc.) that they hardly had time left to do what got them into business in the first place…. The other thing was an appreciation for the moments when things did just work, and they had time to get back to the important stuff: doing what they loved. Call it the zone, the flow, or being productive - it’s something they all wanted, but didn’t always know how to get there.

THE IDEA: We put a name to that feeling, and we showed that space directly impacts both how well and how often you get there: It’s called When Work Works.

Staples are the architects of those small moments that make space work. We get that it’s the tiny margins between moments that can make the ultimate difference to you, your day at work and your business. When your space works, everything works.

The new brand positioning was brought to life in a manifesto film:

Internal Iris WorldWide edit


Staples brand work was done while at Iris Worldwide. In addition to brand and creative strategy development, work included proposition development, brand character and personality development, and communications architecture.