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News Strategy This Week in CX

This Week in CX: Sephora Plans For a CX Makeover, General Motors Unveils Rebrand & More

Four words have been on repeat throughout our virtual office as of late – reband, redesign, rinse and repeat.

 

If you didn’t notice, Tallwave executed a total 360 rebrand in 2020 (what else was there to do when we were all hunkered down in our homes?!), so naturally, that’s been on the mind. And it appears some major legacy companies are changing their brand and visual messaging, as well.

 

Redesign is continuing to be a top priority for companies – big and small – in 2021. As the world changes and the new normal settles in, all businesses are being called to evaluate their customer journey, improve and iterate. And that’s no small feat. It takes alignment across all teams including research, design, content, development, marketing, branding and People & Culture to work towards a common goal and ultimately pull off a successful customer experience redesign. It’s a lot of work… we would know.

 

And lastly, rinse and repeat, or, as we often say, never set and forget. Now, these words don’t necessarily pertain to the stories we’re sharing today, but they’re crucial for any companies carrying out rebrands and redesigns to plaster on their walls. Why? Because even though both business milestones – rebrands and redesigns – require extremely heavy lifts, the job isn’t done once the final products and plans are announced and unveiled. Communities, customers, and cultural climates are changing faster than ever before, and with evolution comes new technologies, expectations and demands for businesses to do and be more.

 

So, cheers to the companies putting in the good work to serve their customers – employees and consumers – first. Celebrations are certainly in order. But once the dust settles, it’s time to go back to the beginning and measure, evaluate and continue to build.

 

With that said, here are the biggest business, tech and data developments that occurred this past week and will most certainly impact how we design and deliver the customer experiences of tomorrow.

 

Sephora: Your Scheduled Appointment For a Customer Experience Makeover Is Confirmed

 

Big kudos are in store for Sephora! On the heels of releasing “The Racial Bias in Retail Study,” the major beauty retailer announced plans to address and resolve racism, discrimination and other unfair treatment throughout their customer experience.

"Racial bias and unfair treatment exists at all phases of the shopping journey, even before a shopper walks into a store."

“It operates on multiple levels across the consumer journey,” Cassi Pittman Claytor, one of two academic partners who collaborated with Sephora to conduct the study, says in the report. “From the very start when people even think about things that they want to buy, to actually making a purchase, using a good — every step along the consumer journey, retail bias, racism is evident.”

 

The statistics in the report are pretty bleak, but if viewed through a different lens, they also uncover major opportunities for all retailers to make change. According to the study:

  • Three in five retail shoppers have experience discriminatory treatment
  • Two in five shoppers have personally experienced unfair treatment on the basis of their race or skin color
  • Three in five employees have witnessed bias at their place of work
  • Three in four retail shoppers feel that marketing fails to showcase a diverse range of skin tones, body types and hair textures
  • Four in five retail shoppers don’t believe there is a representation in brands or companies that are made by and made for people of color

To put actions behind their survey and words, Sephora revealed their D&I action plans to cultivate a sense of belonging for all consumers, regardless of race, skin color or shape, and they hope other retailers will do the same. The plans include new production guidelines designed to increase diversity in all marketing materials; improved in-store processes and mandates for greeting customers and gathering monthly D&I feedback; and more inclusive talent and employee recruiting, mentoring and training programs related to unconscious bias. Progress made across all sectors of their customer journey will be shared publicly on a bi-annual basis on a dedicated section of the company’s website.

It’s this full-picture approach that’s going to make the biggest impact.

 

“As companies take an introspective look at how well they’re serving the full diversity of their customer bases,” says Jessica Pumo, Tallwave’s Vice President of Marketing, “the most effective strategies for addressing racial bias will be those that consider the customer experience holistically across the entire customer journey and how well that experience meets the needs of all customer personas at every touch point.”

 

While strong representation in marketing, in-store staffing, and product assortment are key for creating an inclusive customer experience, Jessica says the employee experience is also paramount.

 

“Employees are the key drivers of customer experience. Sephora’s efforts to not just train employees on diversity, inclusion, and unconscious bias, but to create an employee experience that delivers on the emotional outcomes they want to create for their customers should help them set the stage for authentic, lasting change.”

 

Also read: How to Craft Employees Experiences That Improve Customer Experiences

Even the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) Is Evaluating Their Customer Experience

Get ready to put “new vehicle registration tags” on your next grocery store list. The MVD is expanding its efforts to improve their current services because, well, frankly – and I think everyone would agree – the experience stinks.

 

“DMV’s have so much opportunity to improve customer experience,” says Tallwave’s Senior Digital Intel Strategist Brooke Weidenbaker. “You would be hard pressed to find someone who enjoys going to the DMV.”

 

Luckily, individual states are aware of their CX problem and looking for ways to improve. Just this past week, New Mexico started testing self-service vehicle registration kiosks at the popular chain grocery store Albertsons. To speed up the registration renewal process and print new tags right on the spot, shoppers can visit voice-enabled kiosks before or after picking up their weekly supply of eggs and milk.

"The kiosks will be able to collect data that otherwise might not be available at the in-person locations."

“We’re excited about being able to offer a convenient way for MVD customers to take care of business with us. Whether it’s online, over the phone, in person or now through these new self-service kiosks, we are committed to finding the best ways to serve everyone,” Taxation and Revenue Secretary Stephanie Schardin Clarke said in a recent news release.

 

These new self-service registration kiosks New Mexico is trying out are an excellent start.

 

“Not only in providing consumers another option but also from a data perspective,” Brooke further explains. “The kiosks will be able to collect data that otherwise might not be available at the in-person locations. This is a great step in the right direction that will hopefully kickstart more improvements to the MVD experience across the country.”

 

Well, if nothing else, I know one thing: I’m buying an electric car next so at the very least, I don’t have to deal with emissions and the MVD. Which, speaking of emissions, brings us to our next story…

 

Also read: What Is CX & Why Does It Matter?

Kia and General Motors Unveil Rebrands For a Cleaner Future

New year, new me isn’t just for individuals – it’s for entire organizations, as well. Kia and General Motors both announced huge rebrands this past week, introducing updated visual logos and identities.

Kia's new logo 2021

“We designed the [new] logo around two basic principles. The first is symmetry that symbolizes a sort of stability and confidence that we have towards the future,” explained Karim Habib, Head of Kia’s Global Design. “The second principle is the rising gesture that you see on the K and on the A, meant to symbolize a rise in what we want to achieve with the brand and what we provide in terms of the brand experience to our customers in the future.”

 

General Motors also unveiled its modern-twist on their original logo that hasn’t substantially changed since 1964 – the change is meant to visually communicate its shift towards focusing on zero-emission vehicles.

GM's new logo 2021

As seen in the image above, the custom-designed font is now all lowercase with the ‘M’ featuring arches that symbolize the prongs of an electric plug. The more vibrant color is meant to represent their hope for bluer, cleaner skies.

 

“A logo is the customer’s front door to the brand,” says our Art Director Sean Tucker. “It is usually the most visible component and it represents the brand at the highest level. A great or compelling logo can make an impactful first impression – a chance to put a stake in the ground and say ‘this is what we stand for.’”

 

But Kia and General Motors did more than just rebrand their visual logos. They also evolved their overall messaging.

 

“The new Kia is undergoing a full transformation to deliver meaningful experiences, products, technologies, and design that are all focused on you – our customers,” explained Karim Habib. “From now on, every time you encounter a new element of the Kia brand, we want you to be inspired.”

 

That’s quite fitting given Kia’s other major brand messaging changes, swapping the “Power to Surprise” tagline for “Movement that Inspires” and dropping “Motors” from its corporate name to reflect a future in which they offer sustainable mobility solutions for everyone around the world.

 

Meanwhile, General Motors is also fighting for a zero-emissions future. “There are moments in history when everything changes,” GM’s Global Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Wahl said. “We believe such a point is upon us for the mass adoption of electric vehicles. Unlike ever before, we have the solutions, capability, technology and scale to put everyone in an EV. Our new brand identity and campaign are designed to reflect this.”

"Sure, we need to teach customers about our product and hopefully convince them to buy it, but the real magic happens when we make them feel something."

When carrying out a rebrand, companies must first start at the core – the heart – of the company and identify what they believe and value most.

 

“A brand is so much more than just its logo,” adds our Art Director Sean Tucker. “It is critical that the brand is built with thoughtful messaging and communications. Sure, we need to teach customers about our product and hopefully convince them to buy it, but the real magic happens when we make them feel something. The most successful brands have built lifestyles around their products that their customers truly believe in. Nike isn’t Nike because of their (kind of awkward) logo. Nike is a dedication to being faster, stronger, and better. Millions of people put a little Apple sticker on their car when they got their first iPhone, but that’s not because it’s a really great illustration of a fruit. It’s a badge of honor, it says ‘I believe in this.’”

 

While consumers have varying opinions on the new visual logos, most agree that Kia and GM’s commitments to creating a healthier, more sustainable world is what matters most.

Categories
Innovators Series Strategy Uncategorized

Innovators Q&A: How Genexa Is Challenging the Pharmaceutical Industry & FDA

Welcome to our first of many interviews with innovators, mavericks and leaders across the globe who are challenging convention and changing the CX status quo!

 

To kick off the series, our Partner Robert Wallace who leads Tallwave’s strategic market and growth opportunities interviewed Kelli MacDonald, Chief Marketing Officer of the world’s first clean medicine company Genexa. Founded in 2014 by two dads who were concerned about the ingredients in their family’s medicine bottles, Genexa has one simple mission: To put people over everything. They believe in expanding health education and improving accessibility to clean medicines for all. And in 2021, they’ve got some pretty big goals – some backed by data, and others inspired by their ‘StoryDoing’ ethos. 

 

Learn how Genexa plans to evolve from start-up to household name, Washington D.C. lobbyist, and the brand that changed the over-the-counter (OTC) industry for good. 

Q&A with Kelli Lane MacDonald, Genexa CMO

Robert Wallace: To start, I think it would be worthwhile for you to give us a brief overview of your background and an introduction to Genexa.

 

Kelli Lane MacDonald: Sure! I [started my career cutting] my teeth at various different advertising agencies up and down Madison Avenue, if you will, in New York City. I went back to school while working at one of those agencies to really dig into customer experience, human centered design – to expand my knowledge.

 

Through that process, I landed at a brand strategy firm that really focused on putting the person at the center of the experience. [They] hung their philosophy on this idea of ‘StoryDoing’… [it’s] the concept that you [not only] need a really powerful story and mission – you need to do that story in the world. The best brands in the world – [the ones that] are most famous, impactful and giving back to society – are the ones that follow that kind of philosophy. So, through that work – through my previous agency where I was the Managing Director – we started working with Genexa to help them finalize their brand and really take them to the next level with the launch into stores – 40,000 different retailers like Target and RiteAid, Walgreen, Whole Foods and many others. So, I bring a lot of experience with marketing, communications and consumer insights – how to speak with, touch and provide value to consumers everyday.

 

What really drives me every morning to wake up and [makes me] excited to do this job with Genexa is what they’ve built. The founders of Genexa, David Johnson and Matt Spielberg, are two dads. About five years ago, they looked at what was in their children’s medicine and couldn’t believe the artificial dyes, colors and ingredients – literally the poisonous ingredients in substances like Antifreeze – that are being used in micro-doses in our medicines and we ingest to make us feel better. They felt there had to be another way and so they embarked on a journey to really create alternatives that are just as effective and have the same active ingredients, which is the reason you take a medicine – acetaminophen, diphenhydramine… the reason you take Tylenol or Mucinex or Benadryl – but take out all of the dirty, inactive ingredients and replace them with organic, non-GMO alternatives. Our whole company is built around this philosophy ‘People over everything…’ That everyone deserves access to cleaner, better for you medicines. And you know, we’re thankful to all of our retail partners who are helping us bring that to everybody.

"Our whole company is built around this philosophy ‘People over everything…’ That everyone deserves access to cleaner, better for you medicines."

RW: Thank you for that. It’s a really interesting concept. When you looked or are looking at building out Genexa, do you take into consideration any specific touchpoints in the over-the-counter buying journey? What user experience components do you believe to be most critical to customer conversions and loyalty? 

 

KLM: That’s a great question. There’s really two kinds of OTC drug shoppers and all of us are those two personas depending on the situation that we’re in. There’s the emergency situation: Your child has a 103 degree fever. It’s 11pm at night. You need to go get relief for them to bring that fever down. Or you are not in a moment of crisis and are thinking about how to improve your health, be prepared and clean up your medicine cabinet or find alternative options.

 

As consumers, there’s been a clean revolution in all kinds of industries – food, beverage, beauty – to me, it’s actually the most counterintuitive thought in the world that the medicine we put into our bodies to make us feel better would be the products that are still dirty and have dirty ingredients.

 

As we think about those two personas – the emergency shopping persona versus the non-crisis but trying to prepare [persona] – there are different needs, right? If you’re in an emergency situation, [you’re] not ordering something online and waiting two days for it to [arrive]. It’s not useful, at that point. Where as.. If you’re thinking about how to live a less stressful life or help with sleep at night because of the changing of time zones, you’re more in that reactive mode. Because of that, we made a really conscious decision to be the only pharmaceutical company that sells omnichannel. We, obviously, have an in-store presence with retailers. We have a .com, we have Amazon, we’re selling through instacart. [We’ve made] a conscious decision that we never want to force a consumer to shop in a way that is not natural or useful for them, and, therefore, we had to build out sales and marketing strategies that supported that.

RW: How did you come to those realizations that it needed to be a 360 customer experience or to understand that those were the two primary personas that you were looking at? Did you do audience research?

 

KLM: Yes, we did quite a bit back in [quarter one] of last year. To give my counterparts that run sales internally at Genexa credit – they started having retailer conversations long before the marketing team did tons of audience research and segmentation and said this was the right decision: To go have those conversations. I think, originally, like any entrepreneurial culture, there’s probably a little bit of gut feeling, a lot of talking to people in aisles. Everybody on our executive team walks into retail aisles and just talks to customers – well before COVID. We don’t do that currently. And so, it starts by understanding the customer – we used research to validate that – and also find additional insights to understand how to reach them, how to add value and [to uncover] what their need states were.

 

Also read: What Is CX & Why Does It Matter

RW: How did you identify or evaluate which channels to go after first? You have DTC, big and small retailers, instacart – how did you prioritize those or even think of those when crafting omnichannel funnels? What was most important to you and your strategy?

 

KLM: It’s chicken and egg, honestly, because from my perspective, depending on who you are as a brand – that’s where I think you need to really start: Do some soul searching, figure out what is authentically you. Then use that to inform how you think about your business and where to build, invest time, money and effort first. But I think the egg side of that is – especially with more entrepreneurial startup environment – you have to get your product into people’s hands. So, really organically, our sales team went to the Erewhons and the Sprouts in LA [where it was founded] with backpacks of product… and just asked for some time with the decision-makers of those stores.

 

But I also think, coming back to the brand point, part of what makes Genexa so different is that we call ourselves the only human funnel. We are pharma with a face. Our founders phone numbers are on every single product on the box. We have Founder Fridays where our two founders actually call customers. Our customer service team are people, they’re not robots or offshore. They sit in the office with the rest of the teams. It was really important to us to make sure that, when we’re thinking about where we’re going to show up, we do that in a way that ladders back to the brand and that humanity.

RW: Is that a good example of ‘StoryDoing?’

 

KLM: Yes! My team gets tired of me saying this, but I constantly say, ‘Living out our purpose is not the job of just the marketing team.’

In order for a company to be successful – [for] a brand to be built and have long-term loyalty and really impact change in a society – every single person in the company, whether in quality or compliance or legal or sales, they need to understand what mission we’re on and they need to shape and drive their actions accordingly.

"Every single person in the company, whether in quality or compliance or legal or sales, they need to understand what mission we’re on and they need to shape and drive their actions accordingly."

RW: I agree. You think about brands people truly love – truly covet – and have an emotional connection to. Those people that have that kind of affinity, they don’t talk about it in terms of a product thing or a customer service thing or a marketing thing. It’s a brand thing and that means every touchpoint has to be right in line. You’re making a promise as a brand – you have to question if everything else is fulfilling that promise.

 

KLM: Right, [you have to consider] every interaction [a person has] with the brand: Opening the package of a medicine bottle, where [they shop for that, calling customer service or, obviously, the social impact work that we do. All of [those are] our brand touchpoints. [They’re all] opportunities for consumers to create a relationship, good or bad, with the brand. The companies that are doing it poorly are only thinking about advertising – they’re talking, they’re not walking. It’s those that are on the flipside of that – that understand that purpose has to be embedded into everything you do as a business – that are most successful.

 

Also read: Real People Told Us What They Want From Healthcare in 2021

RW: It’s that idea of authentic awareness. It’s not just about doing a mass market campaign, but doing something authentically that actually speaks to people in a way they care about. It’s not just driving eyeballs, that’s only part of it. So, you have the authentic awareness part of things, you have the culture storytelling… you obviously have a product that’s cleaner, better and healthier for people. Those are departures from other OTC brands out there, but is there anything else you’re doing that’s different from other legacy brands you’re competing against? Not that those two alone aren’t enough.

 

KLM: Yes. We’ve been working on a [longer term] impact strategy, so we’re going to have a couple of pretty significant initiatives kick off this year that are in service of driving change at a systemic level. So, with the FDA – I don’t know if you know this but Europe actually has the European standard, which is the equivalent of the FDA in Europe, and the standards that they put out are incredibly more strict than they are in the U.S. All of the ingredients that are on Genexa’s ‘X List’ – which is our growing list of ingredients that we vow never to put in our products and are in our competitor’s products – 98% of those are banned in Europe. So, it’s not even a question for European products. That really gets you thinking. How come European citizens have access to carte blanche better products than there are in the U.S? It doesn’t seem sensible. So, Genexa is really leading the charge. I don’t want to give too much away, but we’re going to be partnering with some other brands that you know and love to really drive that change at a systemic level in Washington D.C. [and with the FDA.

 

We’re also really looking at – I said the word access earlier – [increasing] knowledge. First and foremost, people don’t know that these ingredients are in their medicines. Then, [it’s about getting people] access to the actual product. We’re standing up an initiative that will help bring education and actual products to communities that otherwise don’t have access, have been forgotten about or are often overlooked because – especially with clean products – I think marketers realized a couple decades ago that they could mark those products up to be premium pricing. Genexa does not believe in [in that]. Our products are more expensive to source because they are better-for-you products – they’re not synthetically made in a lab – and so what we’ve done is kept those price points as competitive as possible. They’re never more than 15% of the leading skew. That’s really driven by this idea of ‘People over everything’. Everybody deserves knowledge and access to better products.

RW: How do you measure ‘People over everything’? You have this idea of people – it feels qualitative… super important but qualitative – but then you have to measure that somehow. How are you measuring your impact or how are you using data to measure whether you’re on the right track or not?

 

KLM: There are some really incredible brand impact partners that have built out tools to help do that. I think there’s probably a more formal way to do that, which we’re working on standing up.

 

I think informally, we do donate quite a bit of product to different organizations – new moms that don’t have health insurance… Baby2Baby does a lot of really good work with new moms. We don’t shout it off of the rooftops. We feel we’re privileged enough to be in a position where we can give the product to people [who] need it. And that’s our duty, we are fortunate to be in that position. Two years back, we actually built a clean water well in Central America because access to clean water is really the fundamental starting point for good health, or better health.So, we’ve really acted out quite a few initiatives over the past few years that we can more informally measure.

 

Also read: Why Customer Experience Can’t Be All Data-Driven

But to answer your question, there are tools that – when you design your brand impact strategy – you look at societal and cultural health and there are all these different metrics that you can measure the impact your brand is having over time to help move that needle. One of our goals over the next few years is to start getting the FDA to cross out previously approved ingredients in all medicines, [so] Genexa [is not] the only [brand] that has better ingredients. That’s a tangible measurement. If we can get five of those products removed – or however many ingredients removed – across the U.S., that’s longterm going to incrementally have an incredible impact on people’s health.

 

RW:  If you’re successful in what you’re setting out to do, that will disrupt the OTC market quite a lot. Do you feel that disruption is a prerequisite of innovation or do you think that you can innovate and do cool things that aren’t necessarily disruptive but still effective?

 

KLM: The latter. If you go back to the famous Henry Ford quote of 1920-something, when he said ‘If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.’ He wasn’t necessarily looking to disrupt horse and buggy [businesses], he was identifying an opportunity to create a better product, a better experience. [He was identifying] a need state for people. So, I think disruption is one way, but I also think consumer insight – understanding where people are and what they need most – [can be disruptive].

 

I love the Swiffer example, too. They went in people’s houses and looked at how women, primarily, homemakers were cleaning floors. One woman wet a paper towel and mopped up the coffee grounds off the floor. Again, not setting out to disrupt vacuums, but trying to define a better option. In-between the vacuum happens to be a Swiffer.

"It was really important to us to make sure that, when we’re thinking about where we’re going to show up, we do that in a way that ladders back to the brand and that humanity."

RW: I love that example. The spinbrush is another one. So, this has been a big year for everyone, obviously: 2020. But Genexa went through a rebranding, released a new line of products, launched some campaigns and even established a partnership with Nintendo. That’s a big year. What do you see as your mandate as CMO for 2021?

 

KLM: To make 2020 feel like it was just a step on the journey. This year is all about growth. Last year was about foundation and reinforcing foundational elements and starting to put the pieces in place for serious growth. Obviously, getting a presence in 40,000 doors is growth, but it was really just starting to reinforce that foundation. This year is about taking us to the next level. Ultimately, I want Genexa to be a household name. I want everybody to understand that they don’t have to settle for less than acceptable ingredients in their medicines. Then we can start thinking beyond just OTC… but I’m getting ahead of myself.

 

RW: We’re marketing people. It’s what we do. Thank you so much, Kelli! I love what Genexa is doing. I love your passion for it and I love the idea of really being authentic in how you’re doing your business and at scale. Genexa looks like it’s well on its way.

 

KLM: Thank you, Robert!

Want to learn more about Genexa? Visit their website and check out their latest advertising spot below.

Categories
Strategy

Are Multiple Brands Better Than One?

When companies undergo the process of transformation as they seek to differentiate themselves and solve for ever-evolving consumer pain points, it’s not uncommon for new ideas, product lines or service spinoffs to hatch. Unrealized possibilities tend to be unearthed and opportunities to break into new audience segments are revealed.

 

Many organizations soon encounter the challenge of fitting new brand offerings within the original parent brand. With each addition to the product or service line, do you create a different name, package, and marketing strategy? What is the best way to maximize the value of both the unique offering and the brand as a whole when you introduce something new?

There are several common approaches: masterbrand, endorsed, individual, and hybrid. Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages depending on your goals and the needs of your customer.

When to Link Brands Together

If your company makes multiple products or offers multiple services that play well together, you’ll most likely have success sub-branding them or creating a brand extension. This type of structure can include the following approaches:

 

  1. The endorsed brand in which each sub-brand may carry the same values, but will have its own distinct brand identity. An example would be Marriott with its JW Marriott, Residence Inn and Ritz Carlton sub-brands.
  2. The branded house or masterbrand in which the parent brand influences the identity of the sub-brand. An example here is Google with Chrome, Maps, Drive, etc.
  3. The hybrid, which is a blend of individual and masterbrand. Coca-Cola Company for example, has multiple individual product brands like Sprite, Dasani, Fanta, etc., but they also have their series of classic Coca-Cola products.

The so-called “halo effect” of sub-branding in the hybrid brand scenario can permeate into new audiences who may not be served directly by the parent brand’s core offering.

Let’s look at Uber Freight as an example.

 

Created by the parent company Uber, Uber Freight looks, feels and performs much the same as the app the company is best known for, but it serves a completely different, and very niche, audience. Based on the needs of this particular audience, the brand was able to take the “Uber experience” and tailor it to this untapped segment while maintaining its core brand principles. Uber didn’t stray from its core offering of better transportation, but the two brands have completely different strategies for attracting users and a different voice, tone and messaging.

 

Uber knew that when it came to truckers, they didn’t have the benefit of brand recognition – in fact, most truckers at that time had never even heard of the app. The company had to take a step back and really learn the market: The pain points, how to get truckers to adopt new technology, and how to communicate with them. The Uber Freight team hyper-focused on a specific region (in this case, Dallas), hired people who were experts in the industry and could speak the language, and began more of a direct outreach approach. A sub-brand with the same underlying purpose as the namesake brand, but a different approach and infrastructure for gaining users.

If your company offers multiple products or services that appeal to distinctly different audiences…

Then, in this case, the individual brand approach might be more fitting. Companies that offer multiple products or services that appeal to distinctly different audiences, so much so that a given customer likely wouldn’t even consider buying one product but would be very interested in another, could benefit from brand individuality.

 

This is not to be confused with brand extension, whereby a company will branch out into completely different product spaces altogether (like Guinness brewing beer and publishing a book of records). An individual brand is more like a sub-brand with a completely different look, feel and even price point. It’s where a parent brand will have a series of unrelated, independent brands under its umbrella. Think Unilever with Dove, Persil, Vaseline, Lipton, Korr, etc.

 

With the individual approach, each brand has vastly different personas they appeal to. Going the individual route is tricky for this precise reason, but the opportunity to increase personalization with each brand in order to reach disparate audiences can be enticing for organizations.

 

Also read: What Is CX & Why Does It Matter?

When To Build From Scratch

Finally, in some cases you’ll find two completely disparate brands that ultimately can be traced back to one company. This is often done if the two brands serve different audiences and have completely different visions and values. If the new product or service aims to fulfill different purposes and doesn’t share a particular stance, it may be best to completely separate the two brands.

If the new product or service aims to fulfill different purposes and doesn't share a particular stance, it may be best to completely separate the two brands.

When this occurs, the originating entity often doesn’t publicize the fact that they are behind the two brands, and in many cases customers of either brand is none the wiser the other exists. This tends to be the least common of the three brand architectures, as most organizations have an underlying vision, purpose or stance that is echoed throughout each of their offerings.

 

Also read: What’s In Store? The Future of Retail in a Post-COVID World

How to Know Which Strategy Is Best For You

The answer on which direction to go often lies within your vision, values and customers. Does your current customer base have a need that this particular product or service solves for? Does the new product fulfill upon your existing brand’s deeper purpose and vision, or does it have a completely different mission of its own? Answering these will help you determine which approach is the best option.

 

Keep in mind, if you commit to the individual branding approach, while it’s not completely necessary to make perfectly clear the brand connection, it is important to ensure you carry the same vision and values through each of your separate offerings.

The answer on which direction to go often lies within your vision, values and customers.

Another advantage of individual vs. pure sub-branding is that one misstep with a individual brand won’t damage your overall organization as much as a sub-branded failure. Because most sub-brands are visually and tonally in line with each other, bad publicity or a colossal failure in even a smaller venture can have disastrous consequences. We’ve seen this play out with well known brands like Samsung with its Galaxy Note 7 and Apple – even the most diehard Apple fans will abandon the brand across the board if one product doesn’t meet their expectations.

 

Individual brands don’t carry quite the same risk, though the lack of obvious association can be a drawback if a smaller off-shoot brand performs particularly well. It’s also worth noting, when a company brand spins off too many offshoot product brands all geared towards a similar audience segment, it can cause a tremendous amount of confusion.

 

An example of this is Centrieva, an accreditation management software for higher education. They launched a series of new products, each with its own brand name and all for a tangential market, and consequently, their customers and prospects became increasingly confused about the offerings. The solution to this problem was to parse out Centrieva as the corporate brand (which would live in the background) and create Weave as the master brand with each product as a sub-brand of Weave. In applying “Weave” to each product name, we helped create brand association and recognition and showed how each product works together as one cohesive platform.

 

On the path to transformation, as you uncover the latent (or obvious) wants, needs and desires of your audience, it will become more clear which brand architecture is best suited for your organization. You may discover, like Uber did, that you are dealing with a completely different audience segment who doesn’t even know you currently exist. If you’re creating a product that addresses a subsequent pain point of your existing audience, your brand name will likely carry levity. And in that case, you could go the route of Virgin, applying your brand name to product descriptions or sub-brands.

 

Note: This article was originally published on October 11, 2017 and updated and republished on December 29, 2020.

Categories
Strategy

How to Set Content & Design Teams Up For CX Success

Content is crucial to a brand’s success because it communicates what a brand is all about.


Design is equally as crucial to a brand’s success because it helps customers retain those very messages that took so much effort to thoughtfully craft.


The ways in which content and design teams collaborate can often vary from company to company; some organizations umbrella all content and design employees into one big creative team who collaborate on projects regularly, while other digital companies break them up and pair them together on a project-by-project basis.


When working in silos, both components individually contribute to the way consumers feel and think about a brand, but when performed synergistically, they deliver seamless experiences that support the same objectives, speak to the same audiences, and project consistent characteristics. The end result? Increased customer sentiment, satisfaction, and likeliness to return.


Whether you’re building a website from scratch, developing an omnichannel marketing strategy or executing a complete company rebrand, there are a couple things that must happen in order to set content and design teams up for collaborative success.

Start with research

When planning a strategy for a digital CX transformation, research is key. There are two areas of research that design and content teams should prioritize: their audiences and their competitors.

Audiences

Both teams need a common understanding of who their audiences or core customer groups are, but they can’t just know the who – when crafting CX, it’s crucial to understand the why. These are the basic demographic questions that brands typically answer to identify their “who”:


  • What does your target audience look like?
  • Where do they live?
  • What do they do for a living?
  • What is their annual income?
  • What is their relationship status?
  • What generation do they belong to?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • What problems do they have?
  • What questions do they often ask themselves?

However, by answering psychographic questions – or the “why” – brands can craft more meaningful experiences curated for specific core consumer groups:


  • What deeper motivations or beliefs drive their decision-making?
  • What is causing them to seek out solutions now?
  • How do they assign value to the things they deem important?
  • Why do they value what they do?
  • What are their interests? (This is different than their hobbies) What are their opinions on ___________? (Fill in the blank as it pertains to your product or services)

By answering psychographic questions – or the “why” – brands can craft more meaningful experiences curated for specific core consumer groups.

Competitors

When looking at competitors, teams should choose 3-5 of their top competitors and take a deep dive into their CX strategy. How do they speak to their audience? What do they highlight as their defining features? Which social platforms are they utilizing? What types of content (video, infographics, blog post, etc.) do they have? What are their colors? What is the look and feel of their photography and design? What is the voice and tone?


The most important component of competitive research may be looking at competitors as a collective to discover opportunities to stand above the crowd. Gaps in the market allow brands to be unique and develop key differentiators and characteristics in design and content strategies.

Write the story

Every brand has a story, but it has to be written down and widely shared (and repeated) for cross-company alignment to manifest.


When developing a brand story, it’s important for companies to define their objectives: What should potential customers understand? What are the key takeaways? What are the shared values that drive them forward? Creating a shared understanding of the story lends way to crafting a mission statement and list of core beliefs that employees and customers can rally around.


On top of that, decisions must be made about the brand’s verbal personality and attitude – namely, voice and tone. Brand voice reflects how language is used to convey purpose and intention. It’s defined by a brand’s style of communication and can vary based on persona and values and can range from intellectual or authoritative to fun, witty or anything in between. Conversely, tone can change depending on what channel is being used or who is being addressed – however, a framework of how and when different tones are used should be established for consistency.


A brand story should be simple, clear, and straightforward, so much so that any stakeholder – internally or externally – could sum it up in one sentence. Of course, that’s not always easy. In fact, it often takes months of writing, rewriting, debating, discussing and exploring a variety of approaches and perspectives before a brand’s message becomes clear. When that’s complete, though, design and content are armed with a singular ethos that can inform the implicit and explicit messages their creations deliver.


  • An effective story should:
  • Communicate what a brand does
  • Make customers – both internally and externally – care
  • Explain the problem the brand is trying to solve for
  • Foster trust & loyalty with everyone it touches

Here are some brand statements from top companies that do just that:


  • Apple is dedicated “to bringing the best user experience to its customers through its innovative hardware, software, and services.”
  • Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman believes, “if you have a body, you are an athlete.” And Nike, “stresses to show each and every person how to reach the athlete within themselves.”
  • Airbnb is creating “a world where anyone can belong anywhere.”
  • Coca-Cola strives to, “craft the brands and choice of drinks that people love, to refresh them in body & spirit.”
  • Southwest strives to, “connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.”

Then visualize that story

It’s not just words that drive initial interest. emotional attachments or an overall experience with a brand. In fact, sometimes, design can play an even bigger role in that, especially when viewed through a lateral or psychological lens.


Voice and tone, as mentioned previously, set the stage. It gives a designer purpose to create, illustrate, and plan around. But taking that voice and tone to the next level with a visual archetype that aligns with things people have seen before, creates connection and relevancy, or elicits an emotional response can enable a brand to be understood without ever having to read anything.


A great example is Pinkberry. When defining the brand story, they chose a sweeter, more feminine look. Their visual design, whether on social media or in their yogurt shops, reflect a consistent aesthetic and mood. By using cursive typefaces, pastelle and airy colors, and curved illustrations, customers – old or new – immediately associate the brand with playful, approachable, youthful and delightful attributes.

 

Photo of Pinkberry's website

Professional designers know the importance of considering psychology and neuroscience when matching visual designs to the written brand story. Some things they take into consideration are:

Color:

  • Red: Communicates energy and urgency; Red is often used to communicate boldness, youthfulness and excitement
  • Orange: Sometimes perceived as aggressive, orange creates a call-to-action; it can elicit feelings of confidence, cheerfulness or friendliness
  • Yellow: An attention-grabber, yellow typically elicits feelings of optimism, clarity, and warmth
  • Green: The easiest color for the eye to process, green is often used in fields related to science, government and HR. It can cultivate feelings of peace, growth and health.
  • Blue: Often associated with feelings of trust and security, blue is seen as clean, calming, and professional, as well as dependent and strong.
  • Purple: Regularly used in the beauty industry, purple is associated with being wise, creative and imaginative.
  • Gray: The most practical and timeless of the colors, gray is used to communicate balance, neutrality, reliability and a level of calmness.
  • Black: Often used by luxury brands, black is seen as powerful and sleek. It can contribute to feelings of credibility, power, professionalism, and precision.

Shape:

  • Circular: Elicits feelings of community, friendship, love, partnership, unity, stability and innovation. Example of brands with a circular logo include Google Chrome, Starbucks, and Audi
  • Angular: Elicits feelings of professionalism, stability, and efficiency, as well as power, strength, balance, and reliability. Examples of brands include Mitsubishi Motors, Microsoft, and AirTable
  • Linear: Elicits feelings of exuberance, balance, sophistication, energy, and dynamic movement. Examples include AirBnB, Adidas, and Cisco

Whatever colors and shapes are used, the end result should visually represent the brand’s values, voice and tone.

Make the creative game plan

One question brands often ask is: Does the design framework come first? Or should content be strategized and written to drive design?


The answer: There is no answer. In fact, figuring that out is part of the creative process.


Some designers prefer to have content before they create a mockup. Some content creators prefer to know what space they need to fill before they begin writing. There is no right or wrong answer to your team’s plan as long as it is clearly defined, timelines are established, outlines are created and good project management is executed.


Teams who stick to the schedule and hold one another accountable benefit from more effective communication that helps bring the brand vision to life.

 

Professional designers know the importance of considering psychology and neuroscience when matching visual designs to the written brand story.

Evaluate your work & iterate regularly

As content and design work together, flexibility is key. A good CX strategy should be consistently evaluated, refined, evolved and transformed to meet ever-changing audience needs and compete with advancements in the industry.

 

Delegating tasks can help brands stay on top of potential and necessary updates: Direct content teams to share new trending keywords that can relate to a brand’s business or audiences and designers to report on new industry trends and evolving capabilities.

 

Ideally, all assets and content creation strategies should be evaluated at least once every six months.

The bottom line

Content and design can create powerful and consistent customer experiences when they work synergistically and are aligned on desired messaging. By bringing a number of creative brains with a variety of backgrounds and experiences to the table, you’ll be able to rethink what’s possible and create something that not only drives initial brand differentiation, but a process for continued improvement and growth that exceeds customers expectations and delivers exceptional value at every step of the journey.

Categories
News

This Week in CX: Party City Reimagines Celebrations, Barnes & Noble Goes Hyperlocal & More

Also included in our second installment of “This Week in CX” (a weekly series in which we discuss some of the biggest news in tech, data and business that could impact experiences of tomorrow): The BIA Advisory Services released their local media ad spend predictions for 2021 and SEO experts everywhere started analyzing the impacts of Google’s December 2020 Core Update. 

 

Let’s jump right in!

2021 ad spend predictions are here & traditional media is… dead?

The BIA Advisory Services have spoken. Forecasts for advertising dollars are out and, despite still dealing with a pandemic, local media spending is expected to start recovering from this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year. Increasing 2.5% ($137.5 billion) in 2021, the projections still fall almost $24 billion dollars short of the ad spend in 2019. BIA says they don’t expect to see a full recovery until at least 2022… and even that might be wishful thinking.

 

What really got our Tallwavers talking, though, is where the money is expected to go. According to the forecast, traditional media is taking a huge hit. Advertising dollars in local TV will decrease by 14.2% next year – that’s 15.7 billion dollars. But simultaneously, online, mobile, and TV stations local OTT (short for over-the-top, OTT usually refers to streaming or video-on-demand content options) and CTV (devices that are used to watch TV online including smart TVs and gaming consoles) predictions are seeing big dollar signs. OTT and CTV are predicted to increase 20% ($1.2 billion); online is expected to grow by almost double digits to 9.5% (23.3 billion) and mobile should take up 18.4% ($23.4 billion) of the yearly ad spend revenue. With those numbers, online and mobile will represent a third of all U.S. local advertising “a shit ton,” as our Director of Performance Marketing Dallas McLaughlin put it. Meanwhile, direct mail is expected to remain the largest U.S. local media platform accounting for 23% ($31.2 billion) of the local advertising share, and local radio is expected to hold strong with a 1.4% ($12.6 billion) increase.

Local media spending is expected to start recovering from this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year.

Curious how accurate this forecast could be? Our Senior Paid Media Specialist Kelsey O’Grady says it’s right on the money. “Consumers’ day-to-day behaviors have adapted to our new way of living during quarantine, but we are still consuming a lot of media.” So, what does that mean for companies who are planning their ad spend strategies for 2021? Just keep swimming.

 

“After the 2008 recession, businesses who maintained strong ad spend left the recession with higher brand recognition and affinity,” Kelsey explains. “Tallwave has a lot of clients who have maintained a strong digital presence throughout 2020 with a lot of success, and I believe they will continue to find success in 2021.” But don’t go spending your money just anywhere. 

 

“The key goes back to knowing your audience. Make sure you have a clear understanding of who they are and what their affinities are. With digital advertising continuing to grow and become more competitive, prices will go up for quality placements and it will be more important than ever to make sure you are showing to the right user.”

 

One last tip: Be sure to define your goals (KPIs) for your 2021 ad spend and evaluate how you’re progressing month-over-month. “One of the things that it is important for brands to keep in mind is sometimes it’s better to look at your media performance holistically than it is to hyper focus by channel,” advises Kelsey. “Upper funnel tactics will have different KPIs than lower, but it doesn’t take away their value in your plan.”

 

Also read: Nat Geo Goes Extinct, Salesforce Gets Some Slack & More

Three Companies Make Huge CX Moves

Make way, make way. Legacy companies are unveiling their CX transformation strategies for 2021! A number of companies made announcements this past week revealing plans to evolve their experiences and products in the coming year. From coolest to “lamest,” here are the changes that are worthy of taking note.

Party City wants to spend every Saturday night with you

Who’s ready for some virtual fun? Party City announced  their plan to help customers “imagine well” by providing new ways to party both safely and virtually. And they’re getting the word out by leaning into content creation and communication rather than advertising.

 

“We are trying to make it easy for customers to still celebrate,” Party City’s CMO Julie Roehm told MediaPost. “We would like to be the author of more trends, rather than a follower of them. With the insights and the knowledge that we have about the celebration space, I think it’s our purview to do that. We have an entire party planning team that we’re setting up B2C and B2B, and it’s not paid.”

But how are they doing it exactly? By bringing virtual party planners to a computer near you. No matter the event, Party City’s customers will be able to find inspiration, how-tos, and shopping lists on their website (or in-store on their “inspiration walls”). Then they can opt to be connected to Party City virtual party planners or members of the “Joy Squad” (which also includes social influencers, store associates, etc.) who will pull the materials together for their little shin-digs. It’s a huge rebranding initiative that requires every associate and exec chip in. And they managed to get that company-wide buy-in – albeit a few bumps in the road – by over-communicating the plan and finding “change ambassadors” and “change champions” in every region to provide valuable employee and customer feedback to continue improving the experience for all those involved.

 

“This is my favorite story of the week,” says our VP of Brand Strategy Jesus Ramirez. “It shows a company/brand rethinking the role it has in the lives of its customers, especially under the context of our new norm. For them, it was helping their customers rethink ways to stay healthy and spark joy in a time when joy is hard to come by.”

 

"It shows a company/brand rethinking the role it has in the lives of its customers, especially under the context of our new norm."

“The other lesson from the story is that this type of seismic transformative shift requires leadership and buy-in from top to bottom,” Jesus explained. “That starts with boldness and vision from leadership, relentless communication throughout, to empowering their teams to be the champions of change.”

Survivor: The Barnes & Noble edition

After years of struggling to sell books and increase foot traffic in their brick & mortar stores, Barnes & Noble is making “the most ambitious restructuring ever undertaken at the company.” It’s one they hope will change (and save) “the future for traditional bookselling.”

 

Led by the fearless and passionate independent book owner Chief Executive James Daunt, their plan to give curation power back to executive managers is already underway. Envisioning a future where shelves are thoughtfully stocked to align with hyperlocal tastes rather than paying-publishers’ agendas, Daunt let nearly half of the company’s New York-based corporate sellers, book buyers, and powerful tastemakers go.

“It’s an interesting move and one that plays to their strengths,” says Jesus. “But they’re also betting on local curators being better at recommendations than Amazon’s algorithms, which is tough. What I’d love to see them adopt is what we at Tallwave call a ‘data-powered human curation’ model that leverages personalization data and adds a layer of personal touch to close the loop with the consumer. It’s something we’re helping several of our clients with at the moment.”

 

Also read: What’s in Store? The Future of Retail in a Post-COVID World

 

He’s right. Barnes & Noble is making a bold move, but in trying to give the huge chain little “shop around the corner” vibes, Daunt hopes the grounded, more intentional approach will decrease return rates and encourage former customers to reconnect with their store and books. We’ll just have to wait and see how this new chapter unfolds.

Crest becomes squeezably sustainable

And in what we’re calling “Jesus’s least favorite story of the week,” Procter & Gamble announced their plans to market fully recyclable Crest & Oral B toothpaste tubes across America starting in January, with the goal of selling only recyclable tubes by 2025.

 

Despite being good for the environment – which don’t get us wrong, is great– it leaves us wanting a little more. “For me, while great, it isn’t innovative or bold enough. ” explains Jesus. 

 

“To meet the current climate crisis brands need to make bolder transformational moves: Eliminate packaging altogether. Create a direct-to-consumer line that requires less external packaging and delivers larger quantities. Offer a sustainability program that allows consumers to send back packaging for rebates on future products. Create new product formulations or form factors that don’t require such sensitive packaging. Honestly, what they’re currently rolling out is a bit underwhelming.”

 

"To meet the current climate crisis brands need to make bolder transformational moves."

There ya have it – Party City FTW, Crest… give us a call next time.

Google does Google things, changes algorithm before the holidays

In somewhat unexpected but wholly unsurprising news, Google gifted marketers a new algorithm update this holiday season. Making the announcement last week and just hours before its release, Google tweeted, “It is called the December 2020 Core Update. Our guidance about such updates remains as we’ve covered before.”

So very detailed. While the news of the core update is old by now, what it means for search moving forward is still very much unknown. A number of data companies have claimed that the core update was “major” – bigger than any others that Google has released in recent history – and they fear it could negatively impact a lot of businesses right before the holidays.

 

According to RankRanger, rank volatility, average position change, and rank volatility by niche all saw substantial changes compared to the May 2020 core update. Meanwhile SEMRush (who just announced a huge rebrand, by the way) said industries that felt the largest desktop search changes included health, real estate, travel, finance, and law and government. On mobile search, health, law and government, jobs and education, pets and animals, and real estate were served up the biggest hits. Among the “winners” of the update, SEMRush claimed LinkedIn, Ebay, Vimeo, FourSquare and Yahoo saw the greatest benefits; alternatively, the update treated brands including Getty Images, Wish, Urban Dictionary, Yellow Pages and AliExpress unfavorably.

 

But our Senior Optimization Strategist Chase Alyeshmerni says there’s no need to panic, it’s just time to shift your perspective. “It can be difficult to pinpoint what needs to be done to reverse any negative impacts to your site after an algorithm update,” Chase says. “These updates consistently serve as reminders to SEO strategists, marketers, and webmasters that we need to take a step back and observe the website and the competitive landscape holistically. We should be focusing on providing valuable content to our users, and that should remain our North Star.”

"We should be focusing on providing valuable content to our users, and that should remain our North Star."

So, to sum it up, stop worrying about fulfilling Google’s algorithm demands, and instead, focus on fulfilling human needs. After all, Google changes its algorithm regularly to improve the experience they’re providing to their users. If you’re already crafting excellent experiences, then Google algorithm updates should no longer make you stress sweat.

 

“It’s critical that when users are searching for a product, service, or solution organically, they are met with content that is not only relevant to them, but delivered in a way that is easily digestible.”

 

And, of course, we have to point out that this all circles back and contributes to our favorite topic – the bigger picture: Delivering excellent CX that helps your brand stand above the rest.  

 

Also read: What is CX & Why Does it Matter?

 

“The focus of SEO is to maximize CX,” explains Chase. “All while adhering to search engine guidelines and leveraging the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) landscape.”

 

The game of creating content from an authentic, useful and optimized way takes a lot of brain power, but luckily, you’ve always got lots of (incredibly smart!) brains at Tallwave to call on.