Three Big Takeaways from One Big Brand Transformation

While getting caught up on some industry reading, an article about seemingly boring brands in the recent Chief Content Officer magazine caught my attention.

I soon began to admire and relate to Renee Richardson, global marketing head at Caterpillar. She was the leader behind the brilliance of Caterpillar’s three-year efforts to take what everyone thought was a conservative, boring B2B brand and turn it in to something relatable and edgy.  Just take a look at CAT’s video of their equipment playing a giant game of Jenga. (Of course, anything related to a competitive game is right up my alley, so this one particularly appealed to me!)

Three Takeaways from Richardson’s Success

More than just the giant Jenga game stood out to me. Richardson commented on a few things that really resonated with me as I spend my days (and nights) thinking about marketing an emerging business process outsourcer (BPO) that is arguably no less humble.   Here are the three things I took note of from this 2014 Content Marketer of the Year finalist as she transformed her company’s brand:

  1. A matrixed operation doesn’t call for matrixed branding
    It was no surprise to me that Richardson’s benchmarking proved that going to market in a fragmented way wasn’t ideal. Like CAT and many others, our business is matrixed in terms of how we operate for our clients. A matrixed operation works great for delivering the best value as a contact center. However, it is confusing to customers, clients and employees if different business units have different brands. On top of that, it’s not cost effective at all in terms of human and financial resources required to manage multiple brands. 
  2. Start at home
    For a new message to have success in the marketplace, your employees have to feel it first. You have to get buy-in and they have to know how to really own it. I think employees create, by far, the biggest impact on a company’s brand – whether B2B or B2C. When they are the ones creating, delivering, and servicing, they are the ones with the strongest connection to the customer. It’s like a cherry on top for me when this approach gives the team a boost in credibility for our internal resources and capabilities like Richardson mentions.
  3. Don’t strive for perfection
    I agree with Richardson, following an agile approach is tough when you want to do the best you can do. Unfortunately, perfection can be the enemy of success. My team is adjusting to this mindset as we’ve learned, too, that there just isn’t time to be perfect in a rapidly changing environment. We often talk about crawling, walking and running – its how we make ourselves see the value in what Richardson refers to as making 80% just good enough.

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