Beyond Rebranding

On this Marketing Matters, WFoA Executive Director Catharine Hays and Jenny Rooney, CMO Network Editor at Forbes, talked with three guests who have recently led efforts to reinvigorate long-standing brands: Connie Weaver, Executive Vice President and CMO of TIAA; Don Branch, VP and CMO of 3M; and Beth Brady, CMO of Principal Financial Group. As each speaker noted, the days of superficial rebranding—with a focus on just a new logo —are gone: today, brand evolution must be deeply thought out to reflect the core values of the brand, be relevant to customers’ desires, engender enthusiasm from employees, and embrace the multiplicity of platforms available to companies and consumers alike. By exploring the rationale and methodology behind the brand evolution at TIAA, 3M, and Principal, this week’s radio show revealed the challenges such historic brands face—and the success that comes with being bold.

Key Takeaways

  • Customer research and feedback is an essential step in guiding brand evolution: they are the truth vectors.
  • Including employees in the brand evolution at an early stage helps build engagement, and ensure that the foundation of the brand—its culture—are being well represented.
  • Rebranding should not be a flick-of-the-switch change, it should be a journey that customers and employees feel part of, and one that retains the core values and heritage of the brand.
  • Changing a brand must be more than just a visual makeover: it can be an opportunity to bring cultural and society relevance and difference-making to the fore.
  • Branding should be simple, clear, and coherent: with the plethora of messaging today, no company can afford to be the author of confusion.
  • Messaging and values must align: if you’re talking about real lives, it may be time to retire your cartoon character.

* * *

Jenny and Catharine’s first guest was Connie Weaver, Executive Vice President and CMO of TIAA, formerly TIAA-CREF. When it was founded almost 100 years ago, TIAA provided insurance and retirement support for teachers; now it does a lot more. “Today the company is a full service financial services company, with a bank, with insurance, with investments, assets manager,” explains Weaver. “Those two products didn’t really represent where we’ve come.” Rebranding therefore started with that fact, then relied heavily on customers’ opinions: “after doing a tremendous amount of customer research, you start to focus on how customers perceive you, how to remain relevant, and most importantly, simple and memorable” she says.

What Weaver found was that consumers, particularly when dealing with a financial service provider, want simplicity—something the name TIAA-CREF lacked. “Consumers who currently didn’t do businesses with us thought that the simpler name meant we were simpler to do business with,” she says. But the goal of the brand evolution wasn’t just to convey simplicity—it was to deliver it. “Five years ago we were out there advertising, driving people to our website, and we realized the experience was more complex than we wanted it to be,” explains Weaver. “So we pulled ourselves off the airwaves, and worked to understand segment by segment the needs preferences and behavioral characteristics of the customers we serve and wish to serve.”

Connie Weaver, Executive Vice President and CMO of TIAA
Connie Weaver, Executive Vice President and CMO of TIAA

Doing this involved a thorough test and learn agenda: TIAA ran every page of the website through a customer test environment, aiming to produce a website that, like its new name, was simple, direct, and user friendly. “We wanted to be radially simple, and meet people emotionally,” explains Weaver, “we want to be engaged allies—our customers need to know we’ve got their back.” As Weaver explains, “trusting in and listening to customers—making them the ‘vector of truth’—means we’re going to have a much better ability to understand how customers engage with us. We’ve built that into the program.”

The brand evolution was customer-centric, but TIAA employees played an equally crucial role. “My belief is that the brand starts at home,” says Weaver. “We included our internal employees just as we did customers—they were part of focus groups, they engaged with new design ideas, and message testing,” she explains. “My employees are my best brand ambassadors.”

Reinventing a brand thus clearly does not mean starting from scratch—it means finding out what is most important to those who give the brand value. “It was very important to us that changing the name did not mean we were losing anything in terms of our values,” says Weaver. “What we stood for, the heritage that we have—all the things that are so unique, and we won’t ever lose that.”

Catharine and Jenny’s next guest was Don Branch, VP and CMO of 3M, a company which, like TIAA, has been around for a century: 3M masking tape was invented to mark off two-tone cars in Detroit, and the creation of 3M audio tape enabled Bing Crosby to be the first person ever to sing on the radio when he wasn’t in the studio.

Don Branch, VP and CMO of 3M
Don Branch, VP and CMO of 3M

Today, 3M is a diverse and global company, one that spans industrial spaces and consumer goods both. This multiplicity of audiences is a challenge, one that Branch took into account when 3M launched its first global campaign in 25 years in 2015. “We did research over 15 countries, and engaged 15,000 people to figure out what they thought of us,” explains Branch. “We learned that people who relate to 3M in one of our market spaces, for example dentistry, consider us to be experts there. But people who know us in more than one of our places tend to be more loyal.” By creating a global brand campaign—‘3M Science: Applied to Life’—the coherence of the brand was emphasized: “The idea is to have people understand 3M across more than one area of expertise and thus create more customers and more loyalty,” Branch says.

Gathering the opinions of customers was invaluable. “We thought about ourselves one way, and learning how customers viewed us, what they considered our areas of expertise, helped us change to an outside-in view: understanding your customer base is essential for any brand redevelopment,” explains Branch.

The campaign launched at South by Southwest in 2015, where 3M built a ‘Life Lab’: a tent space that was brought to life using 3M technology, including a DJ who used a 3M Bluetooth stethoscope to set her music to her heartbeat. Employees were highly engaged in the event, which also included an app. “We had our millennials on bikes, so if someone had a blister, they could tap the app, and we would zip right over and give them a Nexcare bandage,” explains Branch. Employee engagement is, for Branch, integral to a brand evolution. “If your employees are on board with you, they give you tremendous leverage,” he says.

The all-encompassing brand message reminds customers that 3M is integral to so many facets of the modern world. “We say that in the US, you’re never more than ‘3Meters’ away from a 3M product: we’re embedded in cell phones, roads, cars,” explains Branch. “Getting people to understand how we are relevant to their lives is all part of ‘3M Science: Applied to Life.’” At this year’s SXSW, the company pushed this idea even further by emphasizing the relationship between 3M and sustainability. “We’re pulling products out of the display this year,” says Branch, “and we are talking about ideas. We want people to think about things in a different way.” Through an interactive experience, visitors will explore fact that there will be 9 billion people will be on the earth by 2050, and consider what that means for society. “3M has been philanthropic for years,” explains Branch. “And companies can be altruistic, but as profits come and go, it may not be sustainable. If we can build sustainability into the business model, so it actually makes money, corporations can keep it up: sustainability should be part of what we do.”

The final guest on Marketing Matters this week was Beth Brady, CMO of Principal Financial Group. Brady, who has a background in packaged goods marketing, had also worked at Nielsen, where she gained experience in data and analytics: the combination of a marketing and data career made her an ideal candidate to rejuvenate the Principal brand. “Package goods teaches you about putting the customer first, how to develop marketing strategies that can move the business forward. That skill set, for financial services, has been invaluable, because financial services companies are still developing their muscle in branding,” explains Brady.

Beth Brady, CMO of Principal Financial Group
Beth Brady, CMO of Principal Financial Group

Brady talked to Marketing Matters the day of the brand evolution launch: the culmination of an 18-month process. “One of the reasons I came to Principal was because the CEO at the time recognized that we needed to develop a more consistent and disciplined approach to branding,” explains Brady. “We had a lot of different businesses and they were expressing themselves in different ways that weren’t always in line. These days, you cannot afford to create confusion: you can’t be the author of confusion.”

To articulate her approach, Brady uses the metaphor of a ‘brand house.’ “A strong foundation is key, and the foundation of a brand is company culture,” she explains. “To develop a strong foundation, tap into what you’re really good at, and amplify it. On top of that sits tone, personality, and all those differentiating factors. And then at the very top of the house is the brand essence, that simple and internal expression of who you are.” Employees—the people who sustain a culture—are thus crucial to a brand evolution. “We had to start with a strategy that is true to the company, and get alignment from a range of stakeholders,” explains Brady. “By focusing on strategy and coming up with something that felt right for us, we created a lot of alignment, and a lot of collaboration. Then we let people be bold in their jobs: if it’s on strategy, allow people to be bold.”

One bold decision was to move away from Eddie, the cartoon character that had represented Principal for a decade. “We realized that we wanted to be about real people, real lives, and real stories,” explains Brady. Having a cartoon character represent such a concept did not make sense, so Brady decided to ‘retire’ Eddie. “We’re a company that is trying very hard to help people focus on what they need to do to be prepared for retirement, so why not use Eddie as a platform to bring attention to the whole retirement world?,” she says. To do this, Principal encouraged people to share their retirement dreams via Twitter. “People would tweet at us, we’d have them illustrated, and then send them back out,” Brady explains. “It really took off. Often financial companies hit you with facts on Twitter, and no one is very interested in that. But people can get excited about something interesting like imagining what they want to do in the future, and it means we are helping them begin that thought process.”

The decision to retire Eddie—to incorporate him into an ongoing story—reflects Brady’s perspective on marketing today. “Marketers aren’t seeing it as rebranding anymore, because in this age of transparency you can’t just flick a switch and change things,” she explains. “You have to bring consumers on the journey with you; that’s what they want.”

Beyond Advertising at Marketing Science Institute Webinar

Lauder Professor and Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School Yoram (Jerry) Wind and WFoA Executive Director Catharine Findiesen Hays will be hosting a free webinar for the Marketing Science Institute on May 18, 2016. During the one-hour session, they will share the findings of their new book Beyond Advertising: Creating Value Through All Customer Touchpoints, including an actionable road map for the future and a new model for advertising and marketing based on a multi-year research collaboration with 200 thought leaders from around the world and across disciplines.

Register here.

“Marketing Matters” – Beyond Advertising

Aired December 9, 2015

Key Takeaways:

To be effective, brands need to deliver an integrated product offering through multiple touchpoints.

“At the end of the day, the brand is the sum total of all the positives and negatives we say about it…it’s never just about one thing.”- David Sable, Global CEO of Y&R

Marketers should restrain from the pressure to be present through all media outlets and instead focus on messages that are relevant to people’s lives.

Innovation doesn’t mean technology necessarily, but it certainly points to relevance.”- Leslie Sims, Chief Creative Officer of Y&R NY

Brands need to involve consumers in the brand creation process and focus on mattering for people rather than marketing to consumers.

Consumers control the brand today more than most marketers would like to believe.”- Stan Sthanunathan, Sr. Vice President of Consumer & Market Insights at Unilever

 

This week on “Marketing Matters,” Lauder Professor and Professor of Marketing & WFoA Academic Director Jerry Wind co-hosted with Executive Director Catharine Hays to talk their upcoming book, Beyond Advertising: Creative Value Through All Customer Touchpoints. The book is a synthesis of the bold and creative contributions to the Advertising 2020 project, where two questions were posed – “What could/should advertising look like in 2020?” and “What should we do now for this future?”–to over 200 thought leaders, innovators, and visionaries from a breadth of disciplines around the world. They welcomed three guests– David Sable, Global CEO of Y&R, Leslie Sims, Chief Creative Officer of Y&R NY, and Stan Sthanunathan, Sr. Vice President of Consumer & Market Insights at Unilever–to talk about the findings of the book in the context of their own organizations.

David Sable
David Sable, Global CEO of Y&R

Global CEO of Y&R David Sable says he began his career in advertising because it allowed him to express his creativity and attributes his success to his passion for the role. He also adds that his business “is not really about advertising; it’s all encompassing. It’s about life. We are a business about life. We are about culture. We are about news. We are about what’s happening today. We are about what might happen tomorrow. We are about what happened yesterday.”

As evidence for his statement that advertising is never “just about one thing,” Sable brings up iconic campaigns such as “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” from Alka Seltzer. The “viral” catchphrase did not necessarily move the product because it did not link itself back to the product. Consistent with the book’s findings, David agrees that brands need to deliver an integrated product offering through various touchpoints.

At the core, Sable says that advertising should focus on the person. “We talk a lot about big data…It’s not about big data; it’s about primo data, meaning you. Everything starts with a primo point—that’s me, that’s you, that’s the consumer. It’s about what the consumer wants…The touchpoints are all about the people.” Sable also notes the importance of creating experiences for the consumer through the product, as the Sears Wish Book did so successfully in the 1900s. “Everything is about experiences… Creating experiences has always been what this business has been about.”

leslie sims
Leslie Sims, Chief Creative Officer of Y&R NY

Leslie Sims, Chief Creative Officer of Y&R says, “We are coming out of the phrase of ‘we got to be everywhere.’” Although brands nowadays are pressured to be present on various media outlets, Leslie warns that people may become tired of continuous advertising and the negative effects of one poor decision may overshadow a positive brand image. Consistent with the letter “R” in the R.A.V.E.S. model proposed by Beyond Advertising, Leslie encourages “radical relevance” in a brand’s marketing.

Leslie cites the findings of the Brand Asset Valuator (BAV) developed by Y&R, which reveal, contrary to popular belief, that people perceive Ziploc and Post-it to be two of the three most innovative brands. Despite the rise of start-ups and new technological advances, Sims points out that “innovation doesn’t mean technology necessarily, but it certainly points to relevance.” At Y&R when Sims works with brands, she says, “What we like to do now is figure out what the brand wants to be first in the ecosystem … and what we have to be most relevant to people’s lives.”

Stan Sthanunathan, Sr. Vice President of Consumer & Market Insights at Unilever
Stan Sthanunathan, Sr. Vice President of Consumer & Market Insights at Unilever

Stan Sthanunathan, is the Sr. Vice President of Consumer & Market Insights at Unilever whose job is to “inspire and provoke people –to enable transformational actions.” For example, he states that while many marketers want to get closer to their consumers, such a feat is difficult due to time and budget constraints. He helps solve problems like this through consumer connect programs that link hard-to-reach consumers to marketers through video conferences. “At the end of an hour or two hours of consumer connect, you have probably created the idea much better in your mind than what you have done otherwise by just looking at your desktop computer screen.”

Echoing the Five Forces of change in Beyond Advertising, Sthanunathan says,

“The world of marketing is evolving very rapidly. And if you think it is fast, then I can tell you that the speed has never been this slow, and it will never be this slow ever again. It will only get faster and faster with every passing month.” Sthanunathan says, “Marketing to consumers is becoming less and less relevant because people are becoming a little bit cynical about being marketed to.” Therefore, marketers must focus on “marketing for people” as consumers are a part of the brand-building process. More importantly, however, Sthanunathan emphasizes “mattering for people” and states, “The brand has to stand for something way more than functional and emotional benefit. If that’s all they communicate, they are not likely to have a strong brand in the long-run.”

Written by:
Rachel Yuqian Li
WFoA Program Assistant
University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2016

“Marketing Matters” – The Year Ahead and Content Marketing

Aired January 6, 2016

Key Takeaways:

Implementation of content marketing must focus on content that is relevant and engaging for the consumer.

“Content marketing first and foremost consists of creating content that people actually want to read. The most important thing to understand is that your content marketing has to be interesting and useful to the audience, otherwise you won’t get the lift that you are really looking for which is that they share it with other people.”- Chris Yeh, VP Marketing at PBworks

More and more companies are starting to use social media to market because it allows marketers to target tribes of consumers.

“As social media develops, people have become more and more interested in hearing their own views repeated, talking to like-minded individuals. – Thorin McGee, Editor-in-Chief/Content Direct at Target Marketing, NAPCO Media

As consumers continue to engage with brands through more and more touchpoints, it’s important to integrate different departments to enhance the customer experience.

The next evolution of the marketing cloud has to be the customer experience cloud, where sales, service, and marketing are all using those big integrated systems to do something more than the sum of their parts.”- Omar Akhtar, Managing Editor at Altimeter Group

Brands need to focus on quality of time spent with consumers rather than quantity.

“A lot of advertisers have this perception that it’s about making the consumer engaged with the brand for as much time as possible, and we realized that that’s not exactly the best model to look at engagement with mobile… It’s about looking at the fact that the consumer cared and responded to the thing you spent time to put in front of them.” – Brian Wong, CEO of Kiip

 

This week on “Marketing Matters”, Executive Director Catharine Hays was joined by four guests – Chris Yeh, VP Marketing at PBworks, Thorin McGee, Editor-in-Chief/Content Direct at Target Marketing, NAPCO Media, Omar Akhtar, Managing Editor at Altimeter Group, and Global CEO of Y&R David Sable, Brian Wong, CEO of Kiip – to talk about important trends in marketing in 2015 as well as trends to look for in the year ahead.

Chris Yeh, VP Marketing at PBworks
Chris Yeh, VP Marketing at PBworks

In summarizing the major trends from 2015, Chris Yeh, VP Marketing at PBworks, recaps with, “We live in a world where we have to stop thinking about advertising as a set of discrete channels and start thinking about advertising as this continuous part of an overall media landscape.” This is especially true given that at any given moment, people can be on different digital devices with access a plethora of news and social media platforms. “In an environment where there is really just so much information coming in, the distinction between advertising and content really starts to go away.”

Chris explains that content marketing has become a powerful tool in the digital age where consumers have limited time because “you can no longer effectively use money to buy [the consumer’s] attention… what you have to

now do is to figure out the best way to earn attention and to use media to help jumpstart that process.” With regards to the implementation of content marketing, Chris stresses the notion of “content first, marketing second.”

Thorin McGee, Editor-in-Chief/Content Direct at Target Marketing, NAPCO Media
Thorin McGee, Editor-in-Chief/Content Direct at Target Marketing, NAPCO Media

Thorin McGee, Editor-in-Chief/Content Direct at Target Marketing, notes that one of the biggest trends in 2015 was the growth of social media advertising because it allowed marketers to micro-target segments of customers and find tribes within the target audience. He explains that social media aids in developing tribes because “social media is inherently built on that inherent social interaction… Marketing through those channels can take advantage of that”

Moreover, McGee noted that companies are starting to use multiple personas, on average five, to market to different segments of consumers. Looking into the year ahead, McGee says that he expects marketing budgets to increase and expect companies to invest more in acquisition marketing to focus on growth strategies.

Omar-Akhtar-125px
Omar Akhtar, Managing Editor at Altimeter Group

Omar Akhtar, Managing Editor at Altimeter Group, emphasizes the importance of customer experience as marketers look to the year ahead. He says, “It’s not enough to just have a digital department in your company; you really have to start thinking, kind of old school, about what makes a great experience for a customer… and digital is only just a conduit to that. You have to think about creating holistic great experiences past the point of purchase.”

While several leading technologies offer software to help marketers manage emails, websites, and social media through one coherent platform, Akhtar suggest corporations think about integration of marketing with other departments within the company as customers continue engage with brands through more and more touchpoints, not just the marketing side. He adds that “the technology is not the hardest part.” Rather it is more difficult to integrate all departments in the customer experience process.

Brian Wong, CEO of Kiip
Brian Wong, CEO of Kiip

Brian Wong, CEO of Kiip says that he founded Kiip in order to allow brands to connect with consumers during “moments of achievement.” He adds that “scarcity actually brings more value for every message you bring to that consumer.”

Brian says that marketers should think of themselves as part of the service industry as their job is to “bring products and services from that brand to people when they need it.” When marketing to the connected generation, his advice to marketer is to “be able to just accommodate what their existing patterns and behaviors already are rather than making them do new things.”

Written by:
Rachel Yuqian Li
WFoA Program Assistant
University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2016

“Marketing Matters” CMO Spotlight: New Technology Platforms

Aired Jan 13, 2016

Key Takeaways:

The next step for marketers will be to integrate hardware and media in a user-friendly fashion.

“It’s always fascinating to see how media and the hardware world get married to deliver good experiences without being too overwhelming and actually being controllable.” – Barbara Martin Coppola, Chief Marketing Officer at Grubhub

Technology has leveled the playing field between start-up and established brands.

“The opportunities and challenges faced by more established brands compared to a start-up brand is very similar.” – Ram Krishnan, Chief Marketing Officer at Frito-Lay

New technologies have allowed marketers to experiment with different strategies.

“One of the most fabulous things about the world we live in right now is that it’s all basically a learning laboratory.”- Emily Culp, Chief Marketing Officer at Keds

Marketers must adapt the functionality of the devices to the services of their brand.

For a given device, what does it mean for real estate?”Jeremy Wacksman, Chief Marketing Officer at Zillow

 

This week on “Marketing Matters,” WFoA Executive Director Catharine Hays joined Forbes’ CMO Network Editor Jenny Rooney for the monthly CMO Spotlight. In this episode they discuss new technology trends emerging at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) as well as things to pay attention to as marketers look to the Super Bowl. They welcomed four guests onto the show— Barbara Martin Coppola, Chief Marketing Officer at Grubhub, Ram Krishnan, Chief Marketing Officer at Frito-Lay, Emily Culp, Chief Marketing Officer at Keds, and Jeremy Wacksman, Chief Marketing Officer at Zillow. The guests offered insights on their experiences at the CES as well as what the Super Bowl means for them.

Barbara Martin Coppola, Chief Marketing Officer at Grubhub
Barbara Martin Coppola, Chief Marketing Officer at Grubhub

Barbara Martin Coppola is the Chief Marketing Officer at Grubhub, the largest online food ordering marketplace in the United States. In reflecting on the new technology platforms available to marketers as presented during CES, Coppola says although the Internet of Things has been the talk for quite a few years, she felt that it really came to life within the past year. With this, she adds it is “interesting for marketers to really market the benefits of a highly connected life without this invasion of privacy that can result out of the introduction of Internet into pretty much the objects of everyday life.”

On the topic of the presence of content in media, Coppola says, “All of us believe that content is important to differentiate our brands and meaningfully connect with the consumers to drive authentic and emotional connection.” Looking to the future, Coppola predicts the challenge for marketers will be figure out how “build brands that use content in a meaningful way” without over obsessing about content in order to “continue moving advertising and the whole industry forward.”

Ram Krishnan
Ram Krishnan, Chief Marketing Officer at Frito-Lay

Ram Krishnan, Chief Marketing Officer at Frito-Lay says technology has become a great equalizer in leveling the playing field between start-up brands and established brands such as Frito-Lay. For established brands, he says “Brands have to evolve; they can’t stay static, and it has to reflect the time, place, and the consumers [they are] serving.”

In reflecting on his experiences during CES, Krishnan says the show “is no longer about the electronics… it’s a show about how consumers are going to spend time or waste time. As a marketer, I think it’s very important to understand how people will spend time and how will you as brands actually add value to that.”

Looking forward to the Super Bowl, Krishnan reflected on “Crash the Superbowl” competition that began in 2006, where Doritos asked users to submit ads to run during the Super Bowl with the goal to “create an opportunity and a stage where people can get noticed and can actually compete against Madison Avenue and build a career in this world and the marketing landscape.” Though many doubted the program’s effectiveness when it first began, it has received over 30,000 entries from over 20 countries within the past year and has become a huge success. However, Doritos has recently announced that 2016 will be the competition’s last year. As Doritos customer base changes to Generation Z consumers, Krishnan believes that this generation no longer “needs a stage to break out.”

Emily Culp_Head Shot
Emily Culp, Chief Marketing Officer at Keds

Emily Culp, Chief Marketing Officer at Keds says her experience in the digital world prior to coming to the client side allowed her to embrace the idea of “smart risk” and “perpetual beta” in everything she does. These beliefs, she says, are due to the fact that “there are so many interesting complex problems out there that there is no perfect solution.”

With the onset of new technologies, Culp says she is able to get real time data and “go on at any point anytime in the world to look at our social media feeds to tapping into customer service or email or even blog posts and really get a good handle on what the consumer is thinking.” Though each company’s strategic ideas and quantitative data are valuable, Culp says interacting with individual customers through social platforms is hugely important because “each customer is different and unique, and we need to honor that.”

Though Keds will not have its own Super Bowl commercial, Culp says she will be paying especially close attention to “how people are weaving in what type of call to action because it’s indicative of where trends are going within larger corporations.” Additionally, she says she will also be especially interested in seeing “who is capitalizing on taking my attention away from TV to maybe learn more from their site or to go to an app or to have a richer experience from their brand – who is really capitalizing on that storytelling.”

Jeremy Wacksman
Jeremy Wacksman, Chief Marketing Officer at Zillow

Jeremy Wacksman is the Chief Marketing Officer at Zillow, the country’s largest real estate marketplace. Wacksman says brand plays a hugely important role to Zillow because there are repeat buyers as well as new people in the category every year. “As people come in, maybe for the first time understanding what the category offers and what we offer as a set of services, brand plays a huge role in that and not just in top minded awareness but also preference and understanding,” Wacksman explains.

With the introduction of new devices such as Apple Watch and Apple TV, Wacksman says the question on his mind before the release of a new device is how it can be best used for their brand. For example, while the Apple Watch is may be more apt for notifications, the Apple TV can help buyers browse more easily.

Written by:
Rachel Yuqian Li
WFoA Program Assistant
University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2016

“Marketing Matters” CMO Spotlight: The Digital Experience

Aired February 17, 2016

Key Takeaways:

The digital experience should be used in conjunction with other offerings to enhance the customer experience through various touchpoints.

The challenge for marketers is to [be able to] have tools and the content to understand where each consumer is at a different point in his or her customer journey and then offering the right tool and the right content.”Julia Fitzgerald, CMO of CPG Building Products / AZEK.

Enhancing the customer’s digital experience can create a symbiotic relationship that will also create positive synergies for the company.

Everything we are doing in terms of the digital space is thinking about what would be a value to the guest, and then it’s a huge win when it becomes a win for our guests, a win for our team members, and a win for the company.”Krista Gibson, CMO of Chili’s

The digital experience can and should enhance the customer’s experience with the brand.

The brand is here to serve the artists and the players. Fundamentally, we need to look into the voice of the artist because at the end of the day, they’re going to be the amplifiers for what the Fender brand is all about.” Evan Jones, CMO of Fender

 

This week on “Marketing Matters”, Executive Director Catharine Hays teamed up with Forbes’ CMO Network Editor Jenny Rooney for another monthly episode of CMO Spotlight to discuss the digital experience. They welcomed three guests — Julia Fitzgerald, CMO of CPG Building Products / AZEK, Krista Gibson, CMO of Chili’s and Evan Jones, CMO of Fender — to talk about how each CMO has integrated the digital experience into their product offerings.

Julia Fitzgerald, CMO of CPG Building Products / AZEK
Julia Fitzgerald, CMO of CPG Building Products / AZEK

Julia Fitzgerald is the CMO of CPG Building Products / AZEK. Though Fitzgerald has held marketing roles in various industries, the focus on the digital experience has been a commonality in all her positions. She says, “The threat throughout all of these is the need to really keep in touch with the end consumer and understand how to tell a brand story through many touchpoints. As the years have progressed, consumers have such a new and varied preference for how they want to learn about a brand or how they want to interact with your products, and so many of the touchpoints are now digital.” She adds, “The challenge for marketers is to [be able to] have tools and the content to understand where each consumer is at a different point in his or her customer journey and then offering the right tool and the right content.”

AZEK recently launched a female-oriented campaign during New York’s Fashion Week with the tagline “The best-dressed homes wear AZEK.” Fitzgerald says the campaign began because while marketing communications for building products are generally masculine, the end decision about a home’s decking and railing is usually made by the females of the household. Fitzgerald explains AZEK is a surprisingly great fit for Fashion Week because it lives at the “intersection of technology and style”, and “people who care a lot about having a cutting-edge and stylish wardrobe also want the same for their homes.” While the campaign employs aspects of traditional marketing such as print, Fitzgerald says, “One of the things we are able to do is stretch this from print and digital and video into social” by also capturing the ads on video and spreading the message through social media.

Krista Gibson, CMO of Chili’s
Krista Gibson, CMO of Chili’s

Catharine and Jenny’s next guest was Krista Gibson, CMO of Chili’s. Chili’s has recently rolled out tabletop devices, Ziosks, to enhance the digital guest experience by removing some of the “pain points” from the dining experience. The device seeks to eliminate the transactional aspects of the dining experience by allowing guests to pay for their meals, split checks, access the reward program, and order dessert. Gibson says, “The way we are thinking about the digital guest experience as part of the total strategy is really looking for those opportunities where we can help out guests effortlessly interact and transact with brand and in no way take away from the experience or the certainly the quality of the food or feeling like they’re cared for.” She adds, “Everything we are doing in terms of the digital space is thinking about what would be a value to the guest, and then it’s a huge win when it becomes a win for our guests, a win for our team members, and a win for the company.”

Though many eyes have shifted to digital, Gibson says for Chili’s, “Traditional marketing is still very important…When we have product innovation, we see traditional advertising as an important way of launching that product innovation.” To place the digital experience in the context of traditional marketing, Gibson adds, “We are still doing all the traditional marketing. I think what’s changed over the years is now you have this whole digital component that’s an overlay to the traditional marketing.”

Evan Jones, CMO of Fender
Evan Jones, CMO of Fender

The final guest on “Marketing Matters” was Evan Jones, CMO of Fender. Jones says he believes Fender is a “70-year-old start-up” because the course of music creation and expression is at a unique time where the new generation may not necessarily be aware with the rich history but are “very interested in creating new forms of expression and taking the guitar to new places.” He adds, “From a company standpoint, a lot of what we do is really intended to leverage all the heritage and history but to really stake out the next phase of growth for the Fender brand.”

In additional to building out its core businesses and building a sense of community around the Fender brand, Jones hopes to “stand up a digital organization that can develop product and services designed to accompany each player’s own journey.” He states “there’s a significant opportunity to compliment the core business and core experience with digital products and services,” such as offering the tuning app to help first-time players and increasing the availability of content such as instructional videos and instructor networks. Jones summarizes, “The brand is here to serve the artists and the players. Fundamentally, we need to look into the voice of the artist because at the end of the day, they’re going to be the amplifiers for what the Fender brand is all about.”

Written by:
Rachel Yuqian Li
WFoA Program Assistant
University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2016