Loading...

This article originally appeared on Transform Magazine.

The rationale behind most high-profile acquisitions is usually evident – to bolster technological capabilities, integrate vertically or expand into new categories, among them. How do these acquisitions fit into a company’s existing brand architecture? Perry Lowder explores this relationship.

With any acquisition, leadership will face questions regarding the desired relationship between the acquiring and acquired brands. In many cases, an acquisition fits neatly into the parent company’s portfolio, as is. However, some acquisitions risk confusing audiences and create uncertainty for investors about the future of the parent company – we’ll call these ‘stretch’ acquisitions.

Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods and Walmart’s purchase of Bonobos are two examples where the nature of the acquired businesses seemed far-removed from the core capabilities of the parent company. Given the exponential speed of innovation and corporate consolidation, these head-scratcher acquisitions are likely to continue. It’s critically important that the strategy behind – and relationships between – parent companies and their acquisition targets are clearly communicated.

Most companies employ one of three brand architecture models: a branded house (think GE or Virgin), a house of brands (think P&G) or a hybrid of the two (think Marriott). Typically, companies integrate acquisitions based on their existing model, and in many cases an acquisition won’t break the mould or terribly alter the existing brand architecture.

By its nature, a stretch acquisition likely won’t fit neatly into an existing brand architecture and – if significant enough – might completely reorient the business, necessitating a reevaluation of the brand architecture model. The following considerations are key to validating stretch acquisitions and placing them in the context of a corporate story and brand portfolio.

How does this chapter fit into the story? Many companies deliberately choose a brand architecture model for strategic benefits, but few understand its role as a storytelling vehicle. Brand architecture includes the organising principle that determines where offerings sit and how customers navigate the portfolio, providing a way of communicating value to various audiences.

For example, PepsiCo organises its brands as ‘good for you,’ ‘better for you,’ or ‘fun for you.’ This brand architecture communicates product attributes at a basic level – in this case, hinting at nutritional value – using approachable, easy to understand language.

Another organisation that uses brand architecture as a compelling storytelling vehicle is the YMCA, which organises offerings under the categories of ‘youth development,’ ‘healthy living,’ and ‘social responsibility.’ By organising its offerings in this way, the YMCA uses its brand architecture to signal that it provides much more to communities than fitness facilities.

Stretch acquisitions present an opportunity to tell a new part of the parent company’s story, potentially to new audiences. Likewise, their place in the portfolio should be one of strategic importance that is communicated externally.

Brand architecture also includes the visual/verbal relationship between brands in a portfolio – which could be an endorsement, shared design cues or no relationship at all. To ascertain the optimal degree of connection, there are a few important factors to consider. First, is the acquisition meant to signal the parent company’s arrival into a new category? Second, did the parent company acquire for a piece of technology/capability that will benefit other parts of the portfolio? Is the acquisition a reaction to actions or announcements made by competitors? And finally, is the acquisition performing well financially, or does it present a turnaround opportunity?

The answers to these questions will help make the case for a strong connection between parent and acquired brands (for example, an endorsement in the logo), or a weak one (a standalone sub-brand).

Where there are notable differences between the audiences of both brands, the parent company may risk negative associations and a degree of separation is necessary to keep both brands successful. By contrast, if the parent company wants to move deliberately into new categories, negative associations may be acknowledged but ignored in favour of a closer relationship.

Financial considerations can also have significant impact on the portfolio. Does the parent company have the budget and proper mechanisms to adequately manage more than one brand? The capabilities of the parent company’s brand team effectively dictates the number of brands that can reasonably coexist in the marketplace.

Stretch acquisitions are likely to become more popular as corporations capitalise on emerging technologies and hot startups. When leadership has a clear understanding of the value its brands provide to various audiences, and a clear idea of how a stretch acquisition will support and grow its value, brand architecture becomes an exercise in logic – and simplicity. When integrated thoughtfully and purposefully, stretch acquisitions can transform portfolios and reshape perceptions, with major financial impact.

Perry Lowder is an associate strategist at Siegel+Gale. 

The post What impact do acquisitions have on brand architecture? appeared first on Siegel+Gale: Brand Consulting, Experience, Strategy, and Design.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Behind every brand delivering simpler experiences for customers is a leader who recognizes the inherent value in keeping things simple. Here I interview leaders, often CMOs or CEOs, that we deem simplifiers. In this Simplifiers interview I speak with Antonio Lucio, Global Chief Marketing & Communication Officer at HP Inc.

MM: What does your brand stand for and how does it deliver on that promise every day?

AL: I believe brands must be anchored in purpose, play a meaningful role in people’s lives, behave with integrity and be built on strong emotional connections. At HP, our brand promise has become our operating system—to Keep Reinventing. Reinvention powers our never-ending quest to make, do and create. It’s what drives us to develop transformative technology that powers our communities and shapes our world. We deliver on that brand promise every single day by creating technology that makes life better for everyone, everywhere.

MM: What role does simplicity play in delivering on that promise?

AL: One of the most important responsibilities of the CMO should be to synthesize and simplify complexity for the rest of the organization. Synthesizing big data into meaningful differentiated insights helps us better understand our customers, build stronger connections and drive action.

MM: How does your organization strive to create simple experiences?

AL: At HP, we constantly strive to minimize complexity. For example, we’ve reinvented the communication development process to ensure that everything we do has behavioral and media insights upfront, and significantly reduces the number of layers involved in the process. This ensures that our work connects with our customers and is delivered in a timely manner.

MM: How do you strive to conquer complexity within HP?

AL: Complexity in digital and social media marketing has led to a dense ad tech ecosystem and mounting concerns about transparency. Three years ago, to simplify and advance transparency, HP made the decision to bring digital ad buying technology and management in-house. It was a huge strategic move, the implications of which we didn’t fully appreciate at the time. Bringing ad tech in-house has enabled us to integrate our customer data into the system, allowing us to target our media and audiences even more precisely. It has also given us more visibility into what we’re buying and its impact.

We’ve also been doing deep audits of our media inventory. We’ve researched different types of ad exposures. As a result, we’ve decided to pursue a much higher viewability standard for our digital inventory, while increasing impact.

MM: What benefits has your company experienced from simplifying?

AL: Simplifying has allowed us to make faster decisions, minimize redundancy and grow our business—but the fight against complexity is a never-ending battle. In a world where marketing is becoming much more personalized, owning and managing customer data—and being able to execute messaging based on it—has tremendous advantages. It has also provided smoother transitions and continuity in working with different vendors or agencies. Plus, we’re saving tens of millions of dollars.

MM: How do you strive to keep things simple for your marketing team every day?

AL: Keeping things simple starts with setting clear objectives that are specific, achievable and measurable. Then the right decision-making processes must be in place to ensure efficiency, speed and impact. There must be accountability measurements to achieve the desired outcome and feedback mechanisms to make necessary adjustments throughout the process. All of this requires hiring and developing talent for whom simplifying is a state of mind.

MM: How do you lead as a simplifier?

AL: As a modern-day CMO, my job is to understand the complexities in the world, determine where marketing can make the biggest impact and then translate this vision into priorities to ensure our global organization is moving in the right direction. This clarity and frequency of communication is critical for maintaining alignment across the team.

MM: What’s the most recent, simple customer experience that inspired you?

AL: We’re doing a lot of work in Asia, with clients like Alibaba, where we combine our data about our customers to develop delightful experiences that translate into consumer satisfaction, customer success, and brand equity gains.

MM: What is the biggest mistake brands make in regards to simplifying?

AL: The biggest mistake is not simplifying. In the tech world, sometimes we get endless lists of product attributes and features. It requires discipline, insight, and the capacity to synthesize information and translate those multiple attributes into simplified benefits to connect emotionally with our customers.

MM: What are the key indicators that simplicity is driving your business?

AL: ROI. Everything we do as a marketing function needs to demonstrate that we can deliver the right returns. If we’re working smarter and simplifying processes, we should be able to reach our key audiences more effectively—and show business leaders within HP how we’re doing it!

MM: What does simplicity mean to you?

AL: Anchor your brand in purpose – everything we do maps back to our brand’s mission and values.

MM: What is the top piece of advice you’d give to other brands trying to simplify?

AL: Simplification is an active choice—it doesn’t happen spontaneously. In this very noisy world, brands must have purpose, set objectives and develop processes to monitor performance. Simplifying is a state of mind, and the work will never be done.

MM: Thank you.

This is an ongoing Simplifiers series. See interviews with CMO at Aetna, David Edelman; CMO at Birchbox, Amanda Tolleson; CMO at Lenovo, David Roman; CMO at SAP, Alicia Tillman; EVP – Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Hewlett Packard Enterprise Henry Gomez; CMO at Twitter, Leslie Berland; CMO at Blue Apron, Jared Cluff; SVP, Global Brand Management at American Express, Clayton Ruebensaal; EVP and Group President at Verizon Wireless, Ronan Dunne, Director of Strategy and Innovation at Cofra Holding Ltd, former CEO of C&A China, Lawrence Brenninkmeyer; CMO at The Recording Academy, Evan Greene; CMO at Mary Kay, Sheryl Adkins-Green; Head of Marketing at Home Centre, Rohit Singh Bhatia; SVP, CMO of Aflac, Gail Galuppo; SVP and CMO at Cambia Health Solutions, Carol Kruse, Managing Director of The Nature Conservancy, Geof Rochester, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer of Motorola Solutions, Eduardo Conrado, EVP; SVP, Chief Marketing & External Affairs Officer at Abbott, Elaine Leavenworth, GE CMO, Linda Boff; McLaren Automotive Head of Brand Marketing, Stephen Lambert; Ascension Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Nick Ragone; Hertz CMO, Matt Jauchius; Direct Line Group Marketing Director, Mark Evans; McDonald’s CMO, Deborah Wahl; Jet.com President, Liza Landsman and VP Marketing, Sumaiya Balbale; Target CMO, Jeff Jones; Spotify CMO, Seth Farbman; Ally Financial CMO, Andrea Riley; Gannett CMO, Andy Yost; CVS Health CMO, Norman De Greve; Dunkin’ Brands CMO, John Costello; Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh; Southwest Airlines CMO, Kevin Krone; and Google CMO, Lorraine Twohill.

Know a simplifier or would like to be included in the series? Please recommend an executive for my next interview: mmolloy@siegelgale.com

Margaret Molloy is global CMO and head of business development at Siegel+Gale. Follow her on Twitter: @MargaretMolloy and Instagram:@MargaretMMolloy

The post Simplifiers Interview: Antonio Lucio, Global Chief Marketing & Communication Officer at HP Inc. appeared first on Siegel+Gale: Brand Consulting, Experience, Strategy, and Design.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Brand Matters: How to be more innovative as a brand-led organization - YouTube

In this episode of Brand Matters, Daniel K. Golden, Group Director of Strategy in New York, discusses how brands can be used as a leverage to drive innovation and business transformation, while also dispelling some common myths.


Daniel K. Golden is Group Director of Strategy in New York.

Brand Matters is a video series in which our experts elaborate on topics ranging from branding to design to experience, all through the lens of simplicity.

The post Brand Matters: On the value of brand-led innovation appeared first on Siegel+Gale: Brand Consulting, Experience, Strategy, and Design.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Behind every brand delivering simpler experiences for customers is a leader who recognizes the inherent value in keeping things simple. Here I interview leaders, often CMOs or CEOs, that we deem simplifiers. In this Simplifiers interview I speak with Julie Cary, CMO at La Quinta.

La Quinta Holdings Inc. is a leading owner, operator and franchisor of select-service hotels. The Company’s owned and franchised portfolio consists of more than 885 properties representing approximately 87,500 rooms located in 48 states in the U.S., and in Canada, Mexico and Honduras. 

MM: What does La Quinta stand for and how does it deliver on that promise every day?

JC: La Quinta is all about optimism and helping our guests feel the positivity they need to take on their day. We deliver on this brand promise through our guest experience, the service our employees deliver and the optimistic outlook our brand communicates.

MM: What role does simplicity play in delivering on that promise of optimism?

JC: Simplicity is a key part of our brand and our experience. We operate in the select service hotel segment, which people often choose because they want a straightforward experience that’s great for the price, so simplicity is key to what we deliver our customers. We keep the customer experience simple and frictionless every step of the way, whether a customer is booking a room or engaging with our loyalty program, so they have a positive experience at La Quinta and, in turn, wake up with optimism and motivation.

MM: How does your organization strive to create simple experiences?

JC: We want to make it easy and enjoyable to do business with La Quinta and, to this end, develop digital experiences that deliver ease. We created Instant Hold, which makes it easy for customers to hold a room up to four hours before check-in using only their phone number. Ready for You allows customers to request a time they’d like their room prepared by and Redeem Away! allows loyal La Quinta customers to use La Quinta points towards everyday purchases using their mobile phone. Additionally, guests can choose their room or check in on our app.

MM: How do you strive to conquer complexity within La Quinta?

JC: At La Quinta, we’ve simplified the employee experience with our Mobile Operating Platform (MOP), which comes in the form of a device like a mobile phone, that all room attendants use to make notes about their rooms. They use MOP to alert the front desk when a room is clean and if there’s a maintenance issue, they use it to send photos of the problem directly to the maintenance team. Additionally, La Quinta general managers lead daily huddles that guide staff on our vision for the guest experience while communicating a sense of collaboration.

La Quinta is also an exceptionally lean company with few levels, which naturally makes us simpler. To take full advantage of this, we actively cultivate an open culture in which people at all levels are accessible and conversational with everyone else in order to maintain the camaraderie that comes with being a small company.

MM: What benefits have you observed from operationalizing simplicity?

JC: Simplicity enables a lower cost structure. One example of simplicity at work for La Quinta is our exceptional employee base. We want to make coming to work the best part of our employees’ day because we know that our employees are the foundation of our differentiating customer experience. So we strive to make working at La Quinta a pleasant experience, where there’s true transparency among levels and doing your job well is made as easy as possible. Simplicity plays a crucial role in this. Our approach has paid off— for five consecutive years, La Quinta has been recognized by The Dallas Morning News as one of the top 100 best places to work in Dallas.

MM: How do you strive to keep things simple for your marketing team?

JC: It’s a continuous challenge to determine what we should focus on in this increasingly complex marketing climate. To keep things simple, I focus on the guest and guest experience. If it’s not helping the brand or guest experience deliver on what La Quinta does best, then it won’t make the cut.

MM: What’s the most recent simple customer experience that inspired you?

JC: I’m fond of browsing clothing options online, but since I’m hard to fit, it’s simplest for me to try clothing on in the store. Several of my favorite brands, such as Nordstrom and Talbots, have a feature I like called find it in store, which allows you to, when shopping online, find a store near you with that particular item. This allows me the best of both the online and brick and mortar experience.

MM: What do you think is the biggest mistake brands make in regards to simplifying?

JC: Straying from who your brand is and what it does best is a big mistake. In this time of incredible choice, brands need to make sure that they’re clear on what need they fill in consumers’ lives, and fill that need exceptionally well.

For example, at La Quinta our mission is to be a means for optimism to our customers by providing a simple and easy customer experience. We often decide against adding amenities or features which might seem valuable but don’t fulfill what guests want specifically from La Quinta. For example, we decided not to add a wide variety of food and beverage options because our customers don’t want a big restaurant or complex food experience in our hotels. Instead we offer a select group of simple foods in our Bright Side Market that deliver a great experience at a great price.

MM: What are the key indicators that simplicity is driving your business?

JC: One metric we track is conversion, which is when someone books a room online. As we’ve simplified our online booking process, conversion has increased measurably.

Another indicator we look to is our performance within Forrester’s Customer Experience in Hospitality study. One of the drivers they mention is ease of doing business, similar to simplicity of experience. This is an area that’s significant in our category and where we score exceptionally well.

MM: What does simplicity mean to you?

JC: Hans Hofmann captures the spirit of simplicity when he says, “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”

MM: What’s the top piece of advice you’d give to other brands trying to simplify?

JC: In order to accomplish simplicity, you must strive for it in everything you do. Don’t stray from what your brand uniquely delivers to your client.

MM: Thank you.

This is an ongoing Simplifiers series. See interviews with CMO at Lenovo, David Roman; EVP – Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Henry Gomez; CMO at Twitter, Leslie Berland; CMO at Blue Apron, Jared Cluff; SVP, Global Brand Management at American Express, Clayton Ruebensaal; EVP and Group President at Verizon Wireless, Ronan Dunne, Director of Strategy and Innovation at Cofra Holding Ltd, former CEO of C&A China, Lawrence Brenninkmeyer; CMO at The Recording Academy, Evan Greene; CMO at Mary Kay, Sheryl Adkins-Green; Head of Marketing at Home Centre, Rohit Singh Bhatia; SVP, CMO of Aflac, Gail Galuppo; SVP and CMO at Cambia Health Solutions, Carol Kruse, Managing Director of The Nature Conservancy, Geof Rochester, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer of Motorola Solutions, Eduardo Conrado, EVP; SVP, Chief Marketing & External Affairs Officer at Abbott, Elaine Leavenworth, GE CMO, Linda Boff; McLaren Automotive Head of Brand Marketing, Stephen Lambert; Ascension Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Nick Ragone; Hertz CMO, Matt Jauchius; Direct Line Group Marketing Director, Mark Evans; McDonald’s CMO, Deborah Wahl; Jet.com President, Liza Landsman and VP Marketing, Sumaiya Balbale; Target CMO, Jeff Jones; Spotify CMO, Seth Farbman; Ally Financial CMO, Andrea Riley; Gannett CMO, Andy Yost; CVS Health CMO, Norman De Greve; Dunkin’ Brands CMO, John Costello; Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh; Southwest Airlines CMO, Kevin Krone; and Google CMO, Lorraine Twohill.

Know a simplifier or would like to be included in the series? Please recommend an executive for my next interview: mmolloy@siegelgale.com

Margaret Molloy is global CMO and head of business development at Siegel+Gale. Follow her on Twitter: @MargaretMolloy and Instagram:@MargaretMMolloy

The post Simplifiers Interview: Julie Cary, CMO at La Quinta appeared first on Siegel+Gale: Brand Consulting, Experience, Strategy, and Design.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

SMPL Q&A is a blog feature in which we interview experts on all things relevant to branding, design and simplicity. In this Q&A we speak with Kira Sea, senior designer, about her design approach and more specifically the design strategy she used when working on GroundTruth’s visual identity design.

The visual identity you helped designed for GroundTruth is quite playful. Why did you and the team choose to feature playfulness and humor in GroundTruth’s brand identity?

GroundTruth is the leading global technology platform driving in-store visits and sales using location to get insight into customer intent. GroundTruth’s technology is complex, and as makers of technology that tracks peoples’ location, GroundTruth’s technology can easily come across as intimidating or scary. Factoring in the pervasive concern around privacy, we realized that when designing their identity, our most important job was to humanize GroundTruth’s technology, making it approachable and friendly.

We had the perfect logo for GroundTruth, which resembles a location marker as well as the GT monogram. To make the brand identity friendly, we used familiar and playful objects, like googly eyes and colorful pom-poms, to create a connection with the brand. By merging GroundTruth’s technology with a playful humor in an unexpected way, we developed a brand personality that humanized GroundTruth and helped them stand apart from their competitors.

You often use playfulness in the brand identities you design. What value does playfulness bring to a brand visual identity?

Humor and playfulness are charms that, when used correctly, can be powerful tools for a brand to wield. When a brand makes you laugh or smile, these emotions build a positive association and connection between the brand and its audience.

This tactic is most successful when the humor is added at a time it’s least expected. That being said, playfulness doesn’t work equally across all channels or audiences. Humor is subjective, so if humor is used, it must be tailored to the brand’s audience and align with the brand’s creative strategy.

What role does simplicity play in designing a visual identity?

Simplicity is valuable when telling a brand story. If a brand’s message is complicated, it’s hard for the brand to communicate that message and for the audience to understand it. Customers are constantly exposed to a barrage of marketing messaging. To stand out, you have to be simple and straightforward.

Where were you trained as a graphic designer?

I went to the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City. Something I value about SVA was that all of my professors were working professionals. We spent time with them in their offices and were exposed to the way in which real work is created. As students, we learned at agencies such as Pentagram, BBDO and Mother. We also had the opportunity to intern at these agencies, which prepared us well for the professional world.

Kira Sea is a senior designer at Siegel+Gale. 

The post SMPL Q&A: 4 questions on playfulness in design with Kira Sea appeared first on Siegel+Gale: Brand Consulting, Experience, Strategy, and Design.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Behind every brand delivering simpler experiences for customers is a leader who recognizes the inherent value in keeping things simple. Here I interview leaders, often CMOs or CEOs, that we deem simplifiers. In this Simplifiers interview I speak with David Edelman, Chief Marketing Officer at Aetna.

MM: What does Aetna stand for and how does it deliver on that promise every day?

DE: Aetna stands for helping people realize the joy of achieving their health ambitions. People have health goals—they don’t simply want to be healthy, maybe they want to make it to a wedding, run a race or be present for family. So we dedicate every ounce of our energy to helping people reach their health goals, big and small, at every stage of life.

MM: What role does simplicity play in helping them achieve that promise?

DE: Simplicity is critical to communicating with each Aetna member in a way that’s relevant to that member’s goals. There’s a temptation in a large company like ours to have each division contact each member separately, resulting in the member being bombarded. We anticipate and mitigate this by limiting communications members receive to those explicitly relevant to their goals.

In simplifying our portfolio, products and communications, we make it easier for our members to achieve their health goals.

MM: How does Aetna strive to create simple experiences?

DE: One of the ways we’re creating simple experiences is by considering the different stages of the consumer’s healthcare journey. A great example of this is onboarding. For our Medicare experience, members previously received five different welcome packets from different parts of our business, and another five from compliance. We’ve taken all these disparate communications and rationalized them down to one piece of content—a magazine that welcomes each member, providing them information specifically relevant to them, including a guide showing them how to access the resources they need.

MM: What are the benefits you’ve received from simplifying?

DE: The first and most obvious benefit we’ve received from simplifying is cost-reduction. Complexity is costly. We had over 300 different websites in the Aetna eco-system. Since simplifying, we’ve been ruthless about consolidating, templatizing and rationalizing the portfolio, which, in turn, has led to lower operating costs. For example, this simplicity has already reduced calls to the call center, as members know exactly where to go.

MM: How do you keep things simple for your marketing team?

DE: One of the most important things I’ve done is to clarify marketing’s distinct and unequivocal priorities. Marketing gets a lot of work. The last thing we want to be is a delicatessen where anyone can order what they want, regardless of our priorities. Marketing has strategies for each line of business. To this end, I encourage our Marketing organization to be tenacious about pushing these priorities forward, which sometimes requires making tough tradeoffs. If anyone is doing anything that doesn’t squarely drive our five priorities, they should dismiss it.

Secondly, we’re keeping things simple for the marketing team by using analytics that show which initiatives move the needle most. We’ve further simplified this process by minimizing our technology structure—now everything is on either Adobe or Salesforce. We let the numbers guide what we do. I manage our marketing portfolio by checking the analytics, which helps me determine which initiatives have proven to advance our priorities, which we should continue and which we should stop.

MM: How do you lead as a simplifier?

DE: I lead by keeping our priorities at the forefront. I ensure that the leaders I manage are moving these priorities forward, that they’re not spread too thin and that everyone has the resources they need to crush it. A crucial part of this process is having the spine and knowing how and when to say ‘no.’

MM: What’s a recent customer experience you thought was a good manifestation of simplicity?

DE: I recently got solar panels for my house from a company called Sungevity that had an amazing marketing experience. They reached out to us with a mailer saying that our house was a good candidate for solar panels. In the mailer was a personalized URL that took us to a Google Earth image of our house, pictured from above, with solar panels superimposed on the house. Also included was a calculation—based on the angle of our house, considering tree coverage and taking into account the number of panels we could fit on our house—of how much money we could save. The “click to call” feature took us to a representative who, right away, could discuss customized leasing plans. The whole pre-sales process was incredibly simple because they did all the hard work of helping me understand their value upfront.

MM: How have you helped Aetna conquer complexity?

DE: We created an Office of the Consumer, which looks at the end-to-end customer journey and has the charter to make the customer experience more streamlined. This has moved the needle on many unexpected aspects affecting our members. .

For example, we streamlined the onboarding experience. If you’re an Aetna member getting vision and dental insurance, you would previously have been contacted separately—your healthcare experience wouldn’t be coordinated. Now we’re bringing all of that together into one integrated experience that you can manage on mobile and many other communications channels.

MM: What do you think is the biggest mistake brands make in regards to simplifying?

DE: They don’t look at the consumer experience from an end-to-end perspective.

Consumers are often the victims of well-intended process improvements. For example, we saw that people wanted to have their member ID cards on their phone. We also realized that it would cut costs to eliminate the physical cards. So we eliminated the physical card and exclusively gave people access to digital versions. Of course they could print them out, but most people didn’t, which created a problem when they’d go to doctor’s offices and the office would request to make a copy of their card. In the end, this initiative created greater hassle for the member.

MM: What indicators show that simplicity is helping your efforts?

DE: Higher response rates to the communications we send, less calls to the call centers from confused consumers and cost savings on print and postage.

MM: Have you or your brand had to make a hard decision for the sake of simplicity?  

DE: We’re eliminating products and websites all the time—products and websites that people previously thought were essential. We do this by making the point that there’s a cost of complexity and simplifying sometimes requires making hard tradeoffs.

MM: How would you define simplicity?

DE: There are two sides to simplicity: One, when I want to self-serve I can go online and get my task done autonomously. Two, if I call in, a representative will handle what I need done without me having to do additional work.

MM: What’s the top piece of advice you would give to other brands trying to simplify?

DE: Everyone needs an office of the consumer—a group that’s looking and advocating for the end-to-end customer experience.

MM: Thank you.

This is an ongoing Simplifiers series. See interviews with CMO at Birchbox, Amanda Tolleson; CMO at Lenovo, David Roman; CMO at SAP, Alicia Tillman; EVP – Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Hewlett Packard Enterprise Henry Gomez; CMO at Twitter, Leslie Berland; CMO at Blue Apron, Jared Cluff; SVP, Global Brand Management at American Express, Clayton Ruebensaal; EVP and Group President at Verizon Wireless, Ronan Dunne, Director of Strategy and Innovation at Cofra Holding Ltd, former CEO of C&A China, Lawrence Brenninkmeyer; CMO at The Recording Academy, Evan Greene; CMO at Mary Kay, Sheryl Adkins-Green; Head of Marketing at Home Centre, Rohit Singh Bhatia; SVP, CMO of Aflac, Gail Galuppo; SVP and CMO at Cambia Health Solutions, Carol Kruse, Managing Director of The Nature Conservancy, Geof Rochester, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer of Motorola Solutions, Eduardo Conrado, EVP; SVP, Chief Marketing & External Affairs Officer at Abbott, Elaine Leavenworth, GE CMO, Linda Boff; McLaren Automotive Head of Brand Marketing, Stephen Lambert; Ascension Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Nick Ragone; Hertz CMO, Matt Jauchius; Direct Line Group Marketing Director, Mark Evans; McDonald’s CMO, Deborah Wahl; Jet.com President, Liza Landsman and VP Marketing, Sumaiya Balbale; Target CMO, Jeff Jones; Spotify CMO, Seth Farbman; Ally Financial CMO, Andrea Riley; Gannett CMO, Andy Yost; CVS Health CMO, Norman De Greve; Dunkin’ Brands CMO, John Costello; Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh; Southwest Airlines CMO, Kevin Krone; and Google CMO, Lorraine Twohill.

Know a simplifier or would like to be included in the series? Please recommend an executive for my next interview: mmolloy@siegelgale.com

Margaret Molloy is global CMO and head of business development at Siegel+Gale. Follow her on Twitter: @MargaretMolloy and Instagram:@MargaretMMolloy

The post Simplifiers Interview: David Edelman, Chief Marketing Officer at Aetna appeared first on Siegel+Gale: Brand Consulting, Experience, Strategy, and Design.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Behind every brand delivering simpler experiences for customers is a leader who recognizes the inherent value in keeping things simple. Here I interview leaders, often CMOs or CEOs, that we deem simplifiers. In this Simplifiers interview I speak with Amy Dunkin, Chief Marketing Officer at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) is a global leader in Pre K-12 educational content and services, combining digital innovation and research to make learning more engaging and effective. 

MM: What does HMH stand for and how does it deliver on that promise every day?

AD: HMH is in the midst of a transition. We’re evolving our capabilities from that of a traditional educational publisher to a learning company. We measure our success by our ability to produce outcomes for our customers. For every district in the country, success requires a unique approach. Challenges vary from raising math scores to increasing teacher retention. Our goal is to partner with each district to help them succeed.

MM: What role does simplicity play in delivering on that promise?

AD: A teacher’s job can be chaotic as she tries to meet the needs of each child in her classroom. Our ability to simplify the noise, and deliver the information she needs when she needs it, is very important. Simplicity can come in the form of, for example, an elegant user experience or access to the exact data and insights a teacher needs to target her instruction.

MM: How does HMH strive to create simple experiences?

AD: A tangible example of how we’re transforming the brand to deliver simple customer experiences is the launch of our new website. For our customers, our website is their first touchpoint with the company. The chief goal of this new website is to help visitors easily find solutions to their problems and content that engages them. We believe this digital experience is going to take customer service to a new level that’s currently not represented in our industry.

MM: What benefit do you think HMH will achieve from simplifying? 

AD: Ultimately, it will improve customer satisfaction. When the customer journey is complex, customers and employees feel frustrated. Our strategy is to simplify what we do for our customers and how we do it. That, we believe, will translate to engaged employees, satisfied customers and a successful company.

MM: How do you keep things simple for your marketing team?

AD: I help the team understand the metrics that measure the effect of our work and challenge them to spend their time on the most impactful initiatives.

Operating simply requires being clear on what your priorities are, saying no to activities that aren’t going to move the needle for these priorities, and confidently bringing these goals to the business units that you support.

MM: How do you lead as a simplifier?

AD: One example of how I lead as a simplifier is that I cut back on meetings where there’s no clear objective. In the past, we operated as rule by committee. Now, I empower my team to make their own decisions and say no to activities that won’t move the needle.

MM: What’s the most recent simple customer experience that inspired you?

AD: I continue to be impressed by the level of service I receive from American Express. They regularly anticipate my needs and over deliver. My wallet was recently stolen and, by the time I’d figured it out, American Express was seven steps ahead of me. Consistently, they do a great deal on my behalf, which I’m sure requires a very intricate web of activity on their part. And yet, my experience with them is always incredibly simple.

MM: What do you think is the biggest mistake brands make when trying to simplify?

AD: They go half way. You won’t see progress until you have a plan for simplifying in place and leadership advocating avidly on its behalf.

MM: What are the indicators that simplicity is helping to drive your business? 

AD: Early on, when we started to work on our strategic plan, we asked employees what was working and what wasn’t. Everybody said that, while they were happy to be doing this purposeful work, it was heartbreaking and backbreaking to put in so much effort while sometimes falling short. When looking into the cause of this, we found that we were overcomplicating processes and getting in our own way. We were creating complexity that hampered our effectiveness and ultimately impacted our customers. It was unequivocally clear that we needed to simplify.

Now that we’ve adopted simplicity as a key part of our strategy, it feels like everybody is marching to the same drum. There’s a deep understanding of the goals ahead and how we’re working to accomplish them.  

MM: What does simplicity mean to you?

AD: To me, simplicity is an elegant experience in which I’m delighted just enough to realize that my expectations were surpassed.

MM: What advice would you give to other brands trying to simplify?

AD: In order for simplicity to work its magic, you must first rip off the Band-Aid and fully commit to simplicity as a strategy. Second, you must make simplicity a company-wide initiative so every one of our 4,500 employees, across all functions, feels they’re stakeholders in this movement.

MM: Thank you.

This is an ongoing Simplifiers series. See interviews with CMO at La Quinta, Julie Cary; CMO at Lenovo, David Roman; EVP – Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Henry Gomez; CMO at Twitter, Leslie Berland; CMO at Blue Apron, Jared Cluff; SVP, Global Brand Management at American Express, Clayton Ruebensaal; EVP and Group President at Verizon Wireless, Ronan Dunne, Director of Strategy and Innovation at Cofra Holding Ltd, former CEO of C&A China, Lawrence Brenninkmeyer; CMO at The Recording Academy, Evan Greene; CMO at Mary Kay, Sheryl Adkins-Green; Head of Marketing at Home Centre, Rohit Singh Bhatia; SVP, CMO of Aflac, Gail Galuppo; SVP and CMO at Cambia Health Solutions, Carol Kruse, Managing Director of The Nature Conservancy, Geof Rochester, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer of Motorola Solutions, Eduardo Conrado, EVP; SVP, Chief Marketing & External Affairs Officer at Abbott, Elaine Leavenworth, GE CMO, Linda Boff; McLaren Automotive Head of Brand Marketing, Stephen Lambert; Ascension Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Nick Ragone; Hertz CMO, Matt Jauchius; Direct Line Group Marketing Director, Mark Evans; McDonald’s CMO, Deborah Wahl; Jet.com President, Liza Landsman and VP Marketing, Sumaiya Balbale; Target CMO, Jeff Jones; Spotify CMO, Seth Farbman; Ally Financial CMO, Andrea Riley; Gannett CMO, Andy Yost; CVS Health CMO, Norman De Greve; Dunkin’ Brands CMO, John Costello; Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh; Southwest Airlines CMO, Kevin Krone; and Google CMO, Lorraine Twohill.

Know a simplifier or would like to be included in the series? Please recommend an executive for my next interview: mmolloy@siegelgale.com

Margaret Molloy is global CMO and head of business development at Siegel+Gale. Follow her on Twitter: @MargaretMolloy and Instagram:@MargaretMMolloy

The post Simplifiers Interview: Amy Dunkin, Chief Marketing Officer at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt appeared first on Siegel+Gale: Brand Consulting, Experience, Strategy, and Design.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

This article originally appeared on The Marketing Insider

Mergers and acquisitions done right can offer companies tremendous opportunities for growth. They can also be a complicated, messy time for brands. Building an effective, merged business is a high-risk act of undoing existing assumptions—for employees, for customers, for investors, and others. In this time of flux, brand equity must be managed strategically, clearly and consistently.

Here are key factors required for M&A success:

Start with the “future” story

The overarching goal of a merger is to create value. Leadership’s vision of how businesses fit together will define how the organization sees its future. Aligning senior leadership from the start is critical. A shared vision allows for more nimble decision-making in a time of intense transition.

Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn is a good example of a thoughtful future-forward approach. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner spent months bringing their teams together ahead of day 1.

Be customer-first in creating “one” enterprise

Mergers can create a clash of cultures. Cut through emotional decisions and opinions by using customer data to determine the optimal brand future. Conduct research to understand the opportunities, risks and implications that decisions about brand integration may represent. A brand strategy informed by customers will be a more sustainable and economical solution.

For every eBay/Skype misfit, there’s a deal like Walmart’s purchase of Jet, which has overcome early skeptics as Jet retained its personality with a new laser-focus on serving the Walmart customer.

Before making a decision, consider what benefits the acquisition represents to the target buyer and how it supports the unified enterprise purpose. One of the most powerful tools in the branding toolbox is brand architecture and naming. This process brings order to the merged organization—from the corporate name to business units, operations, products and services—relate to one another.

Consider how the customer experience, and the interactions that define it, are likely to—or should—change as a result of the merger. Prioritize customer-facing teams first. Marriott-Starwood took this route when it combined rewards programs, garnering positive headlines and consumer goodwill.

Activate, clarify and measure

An airtight plan for integrating and managing both brands is key to achieving value. Design high-impact, brand led events that demonstrate the power of integration. Assemble a multidisciplinary task force to create a plan that prioritizes audiences internally and externally to:

  • Involve employees early. A brand is only as strong as its people, so communicate with employees as soon as possible. Procter & Gamble did that in its integration of Gillette by using inclusive language like “merger” rather than “acquisition,” holding town hall meetings and pairing P&G employees with colleagues from Gillette.
  • Gauge your progress. Because brand development should be designed to ensure merger success, it is important to measure results. Set early benchmarks with employees, customers, and other key constituencies. Some metrics will be financial, others attitudinal.

Successful M&A might feel like a high-wire magic act, but taking these steps will help you execute well in any situation.

Nancy Hansell is strategy director at Siegel+Gale. Follow her on Twitter: @Nancy_Hansell

The post Three key factors necessary for a successful M&A appeared first on Siegel+Gale: Brand Consulting, Experience, Strategy, and Design.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

SMPL Q&A is a blog feature in which we interview experts on all things relevant to branding, design and simplicity. In this Q&A, we speak with David Srere, Co-CEO and Chief Strategy Officer at Siegel+Gale, on what entrepreneurs should know about brand. To all those scrappy entrepreneurs out there—here are some pointers.

How can start-ups weigh the value of their brand from the outset?

Never underestimate the value of your brand. Your brand, unlike other assets, has the power to propel your business forward. It goes beyond your name, identity or marketing communications. It should serve as the core operating philosophy for everything that’s said and done in your business. As an entrepreneur, you have the luxury of crafting every aspect of your brand from the ground up. Just like your product, your people and your partnerships — your brand must move the business forward.

When crafting one’s brand, what should an entrepreneur keep in mind?

Brand is not what you say; it’s what you do. The world of branding has evolved from words and pictures to experiences. Starting a new business serves as an opportunity to carefully craft and develop what defines your experience from the outset. You can’t merely broadcast information into the ether. The custodians of your brand — from your marketing team to front-of-line staff must serve as brand ambassadors and deliver it in everything they do each day.

How should an entrepreneur differentiate his/her brand among competition?

The world is cluttered by competitors. To break through the din and differentiate, utilize the power of simplicity and make it central to your customer experience. Develop a brand that is clear, and surprising. Simple experiences will not only resonate with your customers but also drive the bottom line. Our research shows consumers are willing to pay more for products and services they perceive as simple.

David Srere is Co-CEO and Chief Strategy Officer at Siegel+Gale. Follow him on Twitter: @David_Srere

The post SMPL Q&A: David Srere on the top 3 things an entrepreneur needs to know about branding appeared first on Siegel+Gale: Brand Consulting, Experience, Strategy, and Design.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Behind every brand delivering simpler experiences for customers is a leader who recognizes the inherent value in keeping things simple. Here I interview leaders, often CMOs or CEOs, that we deem simplifiers. In this Simplifiers interview I speak with Amanda Tolleson, CMO at Birchbox.

What does Birchbox stand for and how does it deliver on that promise every day? Birchbox is an e-commerce company focused on disrupting the beauty industry. Most brands are focused on serving the beauty enthusiast—women for whom beauty is a passion. Birchbox, on the other hand, serves the casual beauty consumer who approaches beauty with purpose rather than passion.

What role does simplicity play in delivering on that promise?

The beauty industry can be incredibly overwhelming with all the brands, products and information out there. The personalization Birchbox delivers speaks to our simplicity—we cut through the clutter so each customer can discover and explore beauty products in a way that’s relevant to her particular needs.

How does Birchbox strive to create simple experiences?

A great example of a simple Birchbox experiences is our beauty box. When designing it, we kept the casual beauty consumer top of mind, especially when strategizing about the amount of products someone could comfortably explore in a month or when designing the product information card that includes just enough information to help the consumer without overwhelming her.

Another simple experience we’ve created is Birchbox’s flagship store. The casual beauty consumer is usually looking to fill a need and enters the store with the purpose of buying a particular product. For this reason, we organized the store by makeup product category, rather than brand. If you enter our store and are looking for eyeliner, you go to the eyeliner section. This is different from most beauty stores that are organized by beauty brand and typically designed for a knowledgeable beauty enthusiast to take a wandering perusal.

How do you strive to conquer complexity within Birchbox?

We ensure that we’re clear on what our annual priorities are, and who owns each one. We have no more than four annual priorities that get most of our attention, and deliver updates on these priorities throughout the year.

How do you stick to your priorities without getting distracted?

It’s hard, especially as a startup, but sticking to our priorities is crucial to our success. We stay focused by empowering our employees to understand the long-term vision of the company.

In order to have simplicity as a strategy, you must have a realistic sense of your team’s bandwidth, so you don’t pile up initiatives and end up spread too thin. Simplifying requires constantly checking in to see where the creep is happening. What’s hard is that the creep usually doesn’t consist of initiatives that are bad ideas or things you shouldn’t do. Sometimes you need to say, that’s a great idea, but it doesn’t trump the initiatives we’re working on, so let’s put it on the backburner for now.

It’s important to note that simplicity doesn’t mean a lack of flexibility—it requires reprioritization when something comes up that everyone agrees is a more important opportunity than what’s being pursued now.

What benefits have you achieved from simplifying?

The primary benefit we’ve achieved from simplicity is excitement and clarity around what we’re trying to build and where we’re going. The fact that everyone is on the same page means we’re all moving in the same direction.

How do you lead as a simplifier?

By being transparent. At Birchbox, we have a weekly dashboard meeting where we share updates and background on decision-making processes. Simplicity requires showcasing to your team how you’re making decisions.

What’s the most recent simple customer experience you’ve had?

I love the Chobani store in SoHo. It’s a wonderful example of taking something that’s not typically consumed in-store and bringing it to life in a simple and delightful way. In the store, there are people walking around with iPads so you can order while sitting down or at the counter. You can get in and out incredibly fast and have a delightful experience, or linger and also have a delightful experience. All the brand touchpoints express the brand. It’s ideal.

What do you think is the biggest mistake brands make when trying to simplify?

I think the biggest mistake brands make is thinking that simplicity is easy or a one-time thing. Simplicity is incredibly difficult to create, and it only works if you embed it in your culture and the way you work. This requires education and showcasing when it’s been done correctly. Simplicity has to be a consistent part of how you do business.

Simplicity is incredibly difficult to create, and it only works if you embed it in your culture and the way you work.

What metrics indicate that simplicity is helping to drive your business?

Customer feedback. Since delivering a simple experience is inherent in our value proposition, and we target the casual beauty consumer who seeks simplicity, our customers often tell us directly how thankful they are that we’ve made it simple for them to discover beauty products.

What does being a simplifier mean to you?

Simplicity requires clarity and focus; not just in business, but in your whole life. In order to simplify, you must know what’s important to you and be ruthless about saying no to what isn’t aligned with your goals. This requires not indulging in the fear of missing out (FOMO). Today’s culture is designed to induce FOMO, especially with social media. In order to pursue your goal, you’re going to have to say no to some great opportunities. Simplifiers know how to direct their focus and prioritize what’s important to them. They know what they’re trying to achieve and have confidence in their vision.

What’s the top piece of advice you’d give to other brands trying to simplify?

Know why you exist as a brand, have confidence in your vision and mission and be ruthless about operating in a way that will achieve your goals. You can’t simplify unless you have certainty about what you’re trying to build and for whom.

How do brands pursue their vision and mission while remaining agile enough to pivot when necessary?

When executing your vision, you won’t be operating within certainty, but you still have to make decisions and move forward with confidence. If things aren’t going as planned, then you pivot and have just as much confidence when moving in that new direction. Be confident about where you’re going, but also self-aware enough to take signals that you might need to change your plan.

What’s a time that you made a hard decision for the sake of simplicity?

Birchbox used to have, as an add on to our beauty box subscription, the option to pay more to get extra beauty products. We found that we were attracting a more beauty-obsessed customer to this product experience. While this feature was good for business, we ultimately decided to terminate it because it wasn’t aligned with our vision of what we’re trying to build for our target customer.

This is an ongoing Simplifiers series. See interviews with CMO at Lenovo, David Roman; CMO at SAP, Alicia Tillman; EVP – Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Hewlett Packard Enterprise Henry Gomez; CMO at Twitter, Leslie Berland; CMO at Blue Apron, Jared Cluff; SVP, Global Brand Management at American Express, Clayton Ruebensaal; EVP and Group President at Verizon Wireless, Ronan Dunne, Director of Strategy and Innovation at Cofra Holding Ltd, former CEO of C&A China, Lawrence Brenninkmeyer; CMO at The Recording Academy, Evan Greene; CMO at Mary Kay, Sheryl Adkins-Green; Head of Marketing at Home Centre, Rohit Singh Bhatia; SVP, CMO of Aflac, Gail Galuppo; SVP and CMO at Cambia Health Solutions, Carol Kruse, Managing Director of The Nature Conservancy, Geof Rochester, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer of Motorola Solutions, Eduardo Conrado, EVP; SVP, Chief Marketing & External Affairs Officer at Abbott, Elaine Leavenworth, GE CMO, Linda Boff; McLaren Automotive Head of Brand Marketing, Stephen Lambert; Ascension Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Nick Ragone; Hertz CMO, Matt Jauchius; Direct Line Group Marketing Director, Mark Evans; McDonald’s CMO, Deborah Wahl; Jet.com President, Liza Landsman and VP Marketing, Sumaiya Balbale; Target CMO, Jeff Jones; Spotify CMO, Seth Farbman; Ally Financial CMO, Andrea Riley; Gannett CMO, Andy Yost; CVS Health CMO, Norman De Greve; Dunkin’ Brands CMO, John Costello; Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh; Southwest Airlines CMO, Kevin Krone; and Google CMO, Lorraine Twohill.

Know a simplifier or would like to be included in the series? Please recommend an executive for my next interview: mmolloy@siegelgale.com

Margaret Molloy is global CMO and head of business development at Siegel+Gale. Follow her on Twitter: @MargaretMolloy and Instagram:@MargaretMMolloy

The post Simplifiers Interview: Amanda Tolleson, CMO at Birchbox appeared first on Siegel+Gale: Brand Consulting, Experience, Strategy, and Design.

Read Full Article
Visit website

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview