Coachlines - February 2020

04.02.20 The Clerk

How do you describe the Livery?

The Coachmakers’ Company is one of 110 Livery Companies of the City of London. Each Livery Company is unique, and this can make it difficult to talk about the Livery overall. How do you describe these Companies with their different histories, members, traditions and activities?

That said, the Coachmakers’ Company has many things in common with its 109 sister companies. Alongside our connection to the City of London, every Company shares a commitment to helping individuals, groups, or local communities – whether that be members of a trade we represent, people struggling to find their place in society, children starting out in education, or a myriad of other worthwhile causes.

These commonalities are overwhelmingly recognised across the Livery Company membership. In 2018 a survey of more than 4,000 Livery members across the 110 Livery Companies revealed that 95 per cent would describe a Livery Company as an organisation with “charitable endeavour at the heart of its activities”. However, the Livery is not well known or understood by those outside it. The survey also showed that 98 per cent of members believe that non-members know little or nothing about Livery Companies, while just 18 per cent think the Livery has a positive reputation among non-members.

These issues have never been more important. Institutions of all types are under greater scrutiny than ever before, and are often expected to uphold higher standards of conduct than at any point in the past. The increase in scrutiny and expectations, combined with new forms of digital communications and the 24-hour news cycle, means that organisations must play a much more proactive role in nurturing their reputation. It has never been truer that a reputation can take many years to make but only a second to break.

A reputational challenge is often more difficult to address when the organisation in question is not well known. A lack of knowledge of the Livery creates an environment in which misunderstandings and wrong impressions could easily take hold. While we know that each Livery Company is different, it is unlikely that people outside the Livery would feel that way. Their first question on hearing about a reputational issue faced by one Company is likely to be: “What is a Livery Company?” And their first assumption is likely to be that all Companies are one and the same.

This means that a more consistent, professional and sometimes co-ordinated approach to Livery communications is required. When a member of any Company is asked about the Livery by a non-member, they want help in describing who we are, what we do, our good works, and why we are relevant in the 21st century.

In the next few editions of Coachlines the Clerk will present information that came out of the 2018 Survey with some of the more pertinent findings and some advice on how to address these issues. It will cover several areas, including:

Some basic principles on communicating about the Livery.

  • Talking points that you can share with fellow Livery members to help when you talk about the Livery, and what to do if they identify a communications issue.
  • An overview of a simple process that has been designed to help us respond, in a joined-up way, to issues that affect the Livery.
  • An overview of just how many individuals and organisations with which the Coachmakers’ Company is involved.
  • A few facts that came out of the survey conducted about the Livery in 2018.

The information that will be presented will not represent a mandatory set of rules or stipulations. Nor is it intended to limit what we do to communicate about our own Livery Company and its good works. However, it is hoped that it will be a useful point of reference in a wide range of situations that you may encounter.

Please take the time to read the articles on communication that will appear throughout this year, and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact the Clerk on or 07505 089841