Building a brand starts on day one with an employee. In fact, it starts before day one— the first time they find out about a company and they're recruited. Marketing needs to be actively engaged with the human resources function in terms of helping with messaging, recruiting, onboarding. We were engaged in defining the vision, mission, values for the company, figuring out how we establish a cadence of communication. Those were in place from the original team that were carved out, but they didn't have a marketing leader and HR leader. We partnered right from the start.
How did you establish an employee brand?
As we started to build out the vision, mission, values and how we were going to engage with people, we very quickly created an ambassador program with our employees. When you have a large organization with lots of different levels and traditional reporting structures and you're trying to meld it all together, you really need to have a set of employees at all levels that you can trust to be eyes and ears and a voice.
We had our own application process. We recruited these ambassadors so that they could become part of the process. At first, it was really to help transition employees because all those IBM employees would soon become Acoustic employees. For many of them, they'd been IBM employees for a long time and used to a certain way of doing things. We really wanted them to be focused on internal.
How did you bring your brand to market?
As marketers, we sometimes forget that we have to make sure our brand is as relevant to our existing customers as it is to our prospects. In this particular case, for all those customers, they've been IBM customers. You can imagine a good deal of concern on their part. "How do I trust this company I’ve never heard of? What are they going to do for me?"
A lot of the initial efforts were really creating a sense of comfort in the existing customer base. Acoustic is a real company, it's a real brand. We're going to support you. We're going to deliver new value to you. We're going to meet your needs. That's what I walked into, and there wasn't a lot of thought toward an external start to build brand awareness, brand perception in the broader market. That's where I picked up the baton when I came in.
How did you separate Acoustic’s brand from IBM?
We're going to have to find ways at a macro level to build that Acoustic brand. And then at a more micro level, with each individual customer, we have to engage with them and help them see the value of coming from IBM to here. Why is there value? We're rebuilding all the products, we re-platformed all the products, we've modernized them. We've created what we think is perhaps the most modern, cloud-based MarTech stack out there, but we had to help customers understand the value back to them. I began working with my team and with my agency partners to start to tell a story to the market about who Acoustic was.
What macro story did you tell?
Our story has been very high level first because I knew that I just had to start to get the name out there. We knew who our key competitors were, and we wanted to tell a story that was different. One of the things about Acoustic is we're 1,000 people just focused on this marketing technology, on campaign automation, on experience analytics, journey analytics, personalization, content management. We're not trying to do everything. We're trying to solve problems for the marketers from marketing, e-commerce folks; we're rethinking the whole problem of marketing technology.