How do you build a brand in this era of digital transformation? With myriad different experiences and interactions through B2B and countless customer touchpoints, it’s more important than ever to make an emotional connection. Carla Hendra, chief executive at Ogilvy Consulting explains.
How do you build a brand in this era of digital transformation? With myriad different experiences and interactions through B2B and countless customer touchpoints, it’s more important than ever to make an emotional connection. Carla Hendra, chief executive at Ogilvy Consulting, tells CXOTalk how the ad agency and global creative network helps make brands “matter.”
“What’s interesting is that brands are the same thing that they’ve always been,” Hendra says. “They are the sum total of the interactions and the relationship between a product or a service or an experience and the consumer or the customer. We’re experts at trying to make sure that that is developed and put out in the world as something that creates emotional connections because, even with all of the digital, technology, and data that has emerged, people are still people. They make most of their decisions emotionally and, in this very complicated world with more fragmentation, more choices, more products and services than ever before, if you don’t have something that is almost an emotional shorthand--and that’s really what a brand is—to help people think through how they want to live their lives, then it becomes a very messy kind of undifferentiated situation for companies.”
“What we work on is the modern marketing brand, and that means, for us, how do we take this really complex world that has a long-term set of goals around business building and ambition, medium-term or quarterly sales results, and then, and every-day brand protection and brand building sort of pulse in the modern world? You have to be able to work across all those time horizons, through every type of marketing and media challenge, and every touchpoint… we help them really systematize how they make their brand stand out, but in a consistent way whether we’re talking about a brand platform that we’re going to express through anything from an event to a TV spot, or a program that’s designed to build loyalty and generate more sales in the quarter, or something that we do on a given day when a brand has either a positive that they want to capitalize on or perhaps a negative that they need to really address.”
Hendra is an executive partner and chief executive at Ogilvy Consulting, as well as chief digital officer worldwide at Ogilvy. She specializes in global integrated marketing services and is an innovation leader with 25-plus years of experience in B2B and B2C marketing, with expertise in strategy consulting, digital, data and branding.
Michael Krigsman: Brand building remains a crucial and often misunderstood topic, especially in our age of digital. Today, we're speaking with somebody who is uniquely qualified to talk about this topic. I'm Michael Krigsman. I'm an industry analyst and the host of CXOTalk. I want to introduce Carla Hendra, who is the chief executive of Ogilvy Consulting.
Now, I need to say a huge heartfelt thanks to IPsoft. We are in their AI Experience Lab In New York City. IPsoft is making CXOTalk possible.
Before we go on, tell your friends, tell everybody you know to watch this show and be sure to subscribe on YouTube.
Carla, welcome to CXOTalk.
Carla Hendra: Thank you, Michael. Thank you very much. I'm really happy to be here today. Maybe I'll start by talking a little bit about Ogilvy. We're in our 70th year, founded by David Ogilvy in 1948, and known really, until now, as an ad agency.
One of the new things that we've done this year is to re-found the company and the group under just the name Ogilvy, as a creative network, a global creative network. Our mission in life, the reason we exist, is to make brands matter for mostly global Fortune 500 companies around the world, but also many, many local businesses.
Michael Krigsman: This is a much broader mandate than the historical advertising in which the company was founded.
Carla Hendra: Well, I mean the truth is the company was founded as a Mad Men Era ad agency. But, over the years, we developed many, many individual capabilities and put them in business units. So, we had the OgilvyOne group, which was CRM and digital. We had OgilvyPR focused on PR. We had Ogilvy & Mather as the ad agency - and many others.
What's happened is that clients in today's very complex world, and with the impact of digital, we took a step back and said, "This is too complicated." We don't want clients to have to come through so many doors to get the solutions we can bring them and to help make their brands matter. We, on June 5th, announced that the whole company would be under the Ogilvy banner and actually have a new logo design and all of that, being the brand people that we are.
One part of it that we have kept as a unique enterprise offering is Ogilvy Consulting. That is only about six, seven years old. I founded it. We did that because clients are asking business questions well above the typical communications or even experience in design challenges we look at. They're asking for help on things like new business models, growth strategies, and certainly digital transformation, and so that's what the consulting group works on.
Michael Krigsman: You're also the chief digital officer.
Carla Hendra: Right, for the group. My whole history at Ogilvy has been from digital. I joined originally on the IBM business with the original team that kind of helped IBM transform itself under Lou Gerstner. We introduced digital to them and really built our entire global digital network on the back of that. I then ran our CRM and digital agency in the U.S., and then was co-CEO of North America before founding the consultancy.
Everything that we're doing today in modern marketing, everything we do with brands is all about reconciling with this resolutely digital world that we're in. I've been working in it for 25 years, since 1993 when the Internet stopped being just a little sort of government scientific tool that special people knew about and became a broad scale consumer and business tool.
Brand Building in the Digital Era
Michael Krigsman: Carla, as you speak with your clients, what are the challenges that they face regarding brand building in this digital era?
Carla Hendra: Well, what's interesting is that brands are the same thing that they've always been. They are the sum total of the interactions and the relationship between a product or a service or an experience and the consumer or the customer. We're experts at trying to make sure that that is developed and put out in the world as something that creates emotional connections because, even with all of the digital, technology, and data that has emerged, people are still people. They make most of their decisions emotionally and, in this very complicated world with more fragmentation, more choices, more products and services than ever before, if you don't have something that is almost an emotional shorthand--and that's really what a brand is--to help people think through how they want to live their lives, then it becomes a very messy kind of undifferentiated situation for companies.
What we work on is the modern marketing brand, and that means, for us, how do we take this really complex world that has a long-term set of goals around business building and ambition, medium-term or quarterly sales results, and then, and every-day brand protection and brand building sort of pulse in the modern world? You have to be able to work across all those time horizons, through every type of marketing and media challenge, and every touchpoint. That has become, for clients, such a different challenge that we've developed our own system for helping global clients, companies that have many, many products and services to offer, and we help them really systematize how they make their brand stand out, but in a consistent way whether we're talking about a brand platform that we're going to express through anything from an event to a TV spot, or a program that's designed to build loyalty and generate more sales in the quarter, or something that we do on a given day when a brand has either a positive that they want to capitalize on or perhaps a negative that they need to really address.
Brand-Building and Emotional Connection
Michael Krigsman: Let's talk about that emotional component as the foundation of a brand.
Carla Hendra: Mm-hmm.
Michael Krigsman: Then we can talk about how brands can codify it and express it in the digital era.
Carla Hendra: The fundamental notion of brands is that it's about making a connection, making a relationship. What David Ogilvy said is that the brand is the sum total. It's all the interactions.
Now, that used to be a little bit simpler to really understand and even manage. For many years, there was brand management that grew up in packaged goods and in similar categories. There was a sort of way of doing things.
All that kind of went out the window in terms of how many touchpoints there are, how often there's an interaction. You're really building a brand in millions of instances and moments. If you can't figure out a way to make that a consistent experience and, in fact, experience is an important word because what used to be a hard product advantage, or a service design, is now something that people really experience the brand in so many different ways.
Digital is one of the reasons for that. It's not just online. It's not just at bricks and mortar. It's not just through B2B channels. It's all of it, and we have to have a way of understanding the DNA of the brand. That's, again, what Ogilvy spends quite a bit of time on when we work with brands is to say, "What's your purpose? What's your role in the world, the role of the brand, and how can we take attention that exists maybe in the culture and the brand on its best day, put those together, and come up with a platform concept? From there, translate it to a creative idea."
Michael Krigsman: There's some type of personal benefit. People need to feel a personal benefit, and is that what drives the emotional connection?
Carla Hendra: We want all people, whether they're in a business environment or whether they're consumers, to appreciate and believe in the IBM brand. Some of the things that we've done, again, using their platform, which is about cognitive and about machines being able to enhance life in so many ways, I mean that's a big concept that's not, again, just about technology. It's about making a smarter planet, making the world a better place to live. That's what we work on in terms of creating that emotional connection.
We could do it in really unusual ways. A couple of years ago, we looked at the Met Ball that's in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a big fashion celebrity culture event. We teamed up. The Watson team worked with a big fashion designer, Marchesa, and created, for just that night, a dress that was actually powered by Watson and connected it on social media with what people who were watching, consumers--you know, not just businesspeople but consumers--watching the Met Ball on T, what did they feel like?
We actually let Watson codify several different emotions. Based on what the Twitter feeds were, the dress would change color in real time. There was a very famous model who wore the dress, and it probably got more coverage that night than any consumer electronics brand or any other brand that was there because it was such an unbelievable thing.
As an agency, it was great to work on it because we were taking this very high order idea with Watson and literally designing a dress with soldering on the little electrodes that would allow that to be done. The creative people loved it, and they were able to build the brand in the moment.
Michael Krigsman: We hear a lot about customer experience.
Carla Hendra: Yeah.
Michael Krigsman: Where does customer experience fit into all of this?
Carla Hendra: I think that's a concept that has really been elevated over the last few years because we've talked about it for many, many years. But, I think it's come to now mean really what is the perception of someone in their total interaction with your brand and your company, and it's both those things, so the brand is different from the company that might be offering it. And, both of those things matter.
But, that customer experience could be anything that happens along the way, so it could be in the physical world. It could be online. It could be on mobile. It could be through a contact center. It could be through a partner where you have much less control over how your brand is delivered.
Again, we talk to clients now about needing to have an end-to-end, strategic understanding of the customer experience. It's not just the piecemeal elements of making sure your contact center and your telephones are answered a certain way or that your email system works. It's everything.
The enormity of it is actually what clients are really asking for help on. Understanding where do they sit in the customer experience continuum, where would you benchmark yourself against a whole series of what customers and consumers expect today from the experience? Then, once you understand that, what are the gaps that you have and how are you going to actually fill them?
Michael Krigsman: Carla, you mention the enormity of the challenge of providing that end-to-end customer experience. Can you elaborate and expose for us why is it so hard? When you talk about enormity, what are the pieces there?
Carla Hendra: Well, it's a really important question because, to be able to effect, on a very personalized level and a very precise level, the customer experience, but also to do that at global scale, of course, requires a lot of different technologies and a lot of systems talking to each other and a lot of data being infused into the experience that the brand delivers to the consumer. If you're a legacy company, and we have a lot of those as clients, you're dealing with everything from your martech stack and the technologies that have come along and helped you have an individual relationship with the consumer, all the data systems that support every aspect of your business, the newer things that most companies, even packaged goods, have had to now make part of their world, which is e-commerce. All of these systems, for a legacy company, having to be synched up and having to really enable a great customer experience so that you delight the customer, it means connecting so many disparate parts of an enterprise, and you have to do that in language, and you have to do that on a global basis but with, again, local relevance.
That's why it's so complicated. It's not like you can flip a switch and it's ever done because, every day, there's something new, some new enabling technology, for instance, voice. The way we have searched for years has been by typing. Well, we're not going to do that very much.
For all the kids who are growing up and born with very quickly getting a mobile device put in their hands, they aren't growing up learning how to type. They're possibly not even learning how to read. They're learning to make demands, to ask questions, and to ask for stuff.
We have to now take everything we've done one way and figure out how does voice change that. There are some really cool things happening in that area, but it's going to be a process.
Michael Krigsman: You've described the importance of having data and the importance of systems being able to communicate across different silos or historically what were silos.
Carla Hendra: Right.
Customer Experience and Content
Michael Krigsman: Where does content, the right content fit into creating this end-to-end customer experience you were talking about?
Carla Hendra: Well, everything I was talking about was, how do you enable and get ready so that you can have a relationship that is data driven that's all about the customer and that really engages the customer in the way they want? That's where the content comes in because you have to be able to, in some ways be programmatic about it and automate it, but you also have to be highly engaging and interesting. That's where creativity comes in.
I think that's one of the things that we as Ogilvy really, really focus on.
We call ourselves a creative network on purpose. It's not that we can't work with technology or that we don't understand data deeply and many of the important digital technologies. But, if we can't bring it to life through brand content that is truly engaging and creative and based on an idea. Again, if programmatic was all that mattered, we could all go home. There would be no industry anymore. There would just be some buttons to press and some computers. Everybody would get some ads, I guess, but it wouldn't be very interesting.
Michael Krigsman: Coming back to what you were describing earlier, is that drive to create the emotional connection then kind of the motivating power behind what you were just describing, that creative part?
Carla Hendra: Yeah, and I think that's our role. If we want to make brands matter, and brands are about emotional connection, we have to do that through creativity. Today, creativity is as often about a visual, writing copy, and creating content, but it also can be creativity in a business model. What's the experience that customer number one and customer number one million wants? How am I going to be able to deliver that in a unique way for each one and everybody in between? And so, there are new kinds of creativity.
Michael Krigsman: Tell us about the new kinds of creativity?
Carla Hendra: Well, that's what I was really talking about. A data scientist who can figure out how they're going to help Intercontinental Hotels Group personalize either in a hotel property or in the process of experiencing the brand through reservations, planning, or whatever. If they could figure out how to personalize that, then that data scientist is a hugely creative person. They also have to help the creative teams understand what kind of messages and content and engagement devices to use.
For instance, there's a new role in the agency called Creative Technologist. That's somebody who sits in the creative department, but they have a technology background. They're able to help the pure creative people link up to the tech people and understand, what's made possible by the Adobe Marketing Suite, what's made possible by Salesforce.com, or what's made possible by any number of other new technologies that really change the way brands can talk to and engage with customers?
Michael Krigsman: At Ogilvy, you have reinvented yourself, in a way, very similar to what your clients have to do.
Carla Hendra: Absolutely. It's our 70th anniversary in September but, on June 5th when we came out as Ogilvy rebranded and re-founded, it was, yes, on the principles of David Ogilvy, but really interpreted for the modern marketing world. That is a transformation, and we've been working on it for about two and a half years. It's the kind of thing that I don't think we'll ever be done, but it was about really putting a stake in the ground for the future and to say, "We're always going to be about brands and making brands matter, but we need to do that in a way that uses every aspect of technology, of data, of the things that can infuse creativity."
Michael Krigsman: The foundations of a brand have not changed, but the expression has to evolve based on technology changing, consumer expectations, and so forth.
Carla Hendra: Yeah, I mean it's what I was talking about before. When a brand is an experience as much as it is the actual product or service, and when we have to be able to personalize that on a global scale, that just is a whole new set of challenges. At the same time, making sure a brand has a heart, the DNA, and the emotional connection, that has not changed.
Role of the Chief Digital Officer
Michael Krigsman: Carla, you're Chief Digital Officer. What is that role and where does that fit into Ogilvy?
Carla Hendra: We have, as I said, about 10,000 people that are in some way contributing to digital work that we create for clients and that we deliver, and that's a big, global community. We have our own digital transformation agenda. My mandate and role is to drive that agenda and to do that through our operating structure, which means there is someone in charge of digital for each of the key regions. There are people who are in charge of certain service elements, so we have a marketing technology center of excellence, which is largely based offshore in Asia. But, that is one of the delivery mechanisms that we needed to develop as part of our transformation.
I'm responsible for pushing all aspects of digital growth and helping our clients understand where they need to go but, also, helping us to deliver on this pretty aggressive agenda, which is something that changes constantly. Because of the breadth of our network, we have to have someone who sort of holds the reigns and says, "We're going to do these things. We're not going to do those things."
For instance, we've been in digital since before there was an internet. We've always been a technology-oriented company. But, today, some of the areas that we have to innovate in are artificial intelligence, AI, the blockchain, or AR/VR because those things are letting us create in completely different ways.
Part of my role is to make sure we have the people who can do that, the talent, and leadership to get it done.
Michael Krigsman: You need to be ahead of your clients, of course.
Carla Hendra: Yes, and our clients are pretty smart, and they're doing a lot of very interesting things. They also, many of them, have chief digital officers. One of the things that's changed in the industry is that when we were more focused on communications along, whereas now we really talk about being in the communications, the design, and the experience business, the chief marketing officer was our client.
Today, we might be dealing with the CIO, the chief information officer, the CDO, or we might be dealing with the chief technology officer, or we might be dealing with any number of other doors that you walk through to help clients because they're changing their organizations. Marketing has become something that's very linked to sales, and so even the chief marketing officer has a much broader requirement and mandates today. They're working on customer experience as much as they're working on any sort of formal communications programs.
Michael Krigsman: Okay. Carla Hendra, thank you so much.
Carla Hendra: Oh, thank you, Michael, very much.
Michael Krigsman: We've been speaking with Carla Hendra from Ogilvy. What a fascinating conversation it has been. Again, I want to say a thank you to IPsoft for making CXOTalk possible. Be sure to subscribe on YouTube. Thanks so much, everybody, and have a great day.
Published Date: Mar 13, 2019
Author: Michael Krigsman
Episode ID: 585