In conversation with…Crispin Finn

We caught up with Crispin Finn, who we were lucky enough to feature on our Insta-gallery this month. Here’s what they had to say:

So, what’s your story?

We’re a duo, Anna and Roger, who work collaboratively under the name Crispin Finn, making our own products and commercially producing illustration and design for a range of clients. We’re also partners in real life.

How did you develop a love for making art?

From a young age as is often the case. Roger trained as a fine artist and Anna as a graphic designer. Crispin Finn started as an extra curricular pastime on evenings and weekends and is now a full time business. Love what you do and the rest will follow, as they say.

What techniques do you use?

Sketches, discussions, lots of notes, and then usually working in the computer to draw up and develop the work. We also use physical techniques, such as screen printing, painting, laser cut wood and anything else that might be appropriate.

Which work are you most proud of, and why?

Probably our yearly wall planners. It was the first item we made together when options were limited to a laminated planner from Rymans. It led to us working together as Crispin Finn – we’re now into the tenth year of making them.

What’s the story behind one or more of the works in this gallery?

One of the most recent pieces in the gallery is our Rise and Shine screen print which we created for the She Lights Up The Night International Women’s Day fundraising event at Protein Gallery. We wanted to create an image and slogan that was simple, positive, appropriate, and wouldn’t be read as patronising or against the opposite gender. The image became a limited edition print as well as a one off large mirror piece of the same design. The mirror was handmade at our studio and auctioned off to raise funds for the charity Refuge.

 

Remember, our 3×3 instagallery refreshed every month. Catch our latest one here.

Or see more of Crispin Finn’s work here.

Meet The Woman Tasked With Saving Uber From Itself

We sat down with Uber’s chief human resources officer, Liane Hornsey, who emphasized her desire “to stamp out anything that is a remnant of the past.”

Over the last six months, Uber’s been rocked by a series of scandals that brought this soaring unicorn back down to earth. It all really started with Susan Fowler’s blog post on February 19, 2017, that detailed incredibly poor management practices and a human resources department that prized the success of the company over the needs of its employees even in the face of sexual harassment allegations. Since then, revelations of sexist and other inappropriate behavior at the top of the company have dominated headlines, including an outing to an escort bar in South Korea and an executive obtaining the medical records of a rider who was raped by her Uber driver in India.

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Building an Absolutely Fabulous Customer-Centric Business

The convergence of marketing, context and technology has redefined what it means to be a successful organization in the information age. To be successful, you have to be customer-centric. But what does that really mean?

It means building an organization that – from bottom up and top down – is customer obsessed. Companies aren’t successful because of a single person. Success is built through a collective people working towards a common goal. So your whole organization needs to be invested in the customer.

And saying you are customer centric and customer obsessed doesn’t cut it. It needs to be present throughout all processes and leading the charge for the way you craft your brand and marketing strategies. Strategies need to start and end with the user. UX and designs should constantly be validated against personas. The way experiences are built have the technology to empower users in their experience. Saying you are customer centric doesn’t cut it anymore.

So how does your organization actually become customer-centric?

First you have to build a foundation for customer-centricity by getting internal buy-in and creating/promoting that vision from within. From there, you have to know your users and use data to understand and anticipate user needs. Lastly, you need to have a digital experience platform (DXP) that powers the customer-centric experience and a feedback loop to continue to evaluate efforts and deliver on authenticity. As you go through the steps of becoming customer centric, you are empowering each touchpoint in your brand experience to know the user and deliver on their needs.

Want more? Don’t worry, we’ll give you more.

As absolutely fabulous agency/tech partners-in-crime, Genuine and Acquia are here to give you step-by-step guidance on becoming customer obsessed. We bring together the world of product and service, so we have a unique point of view on what it takes and we are honest about it. Because when it comes to strategy and customer experience, honest evaluation is key. And when you look in the mirror darling, we want you to look fabulous.

So stay tuned and stay engaged. Reach out. Ask questions. Expect honesty. And most importantly, stay fabulous!

The post Building an Absolutely Fabulous Customer-Centric Business appeared first on Genuine.

Lions Health Speaks the Truth

Having been back from Cannes for over a week, I have to say that I’m struck by how ironic it is that the CEOs of two huge network agencies are questioning the value of a festival which celebrates creativity.

One of my lasting memories is being blown away by the winning work at the Lions Health awards evening. Can you place a value on that feeling? How much is it worth to be stirred so much that you’re ready to return to work and ignite your colleagues and clients with a touch of the magic that you’ve witnessed? What would you pay to watch work that moves you to tears, makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and reminds you why you love this industry?

Work like this for the charity SickKids by Canadian agency Cossette:

Or this piece for Gillette by Grey New York:

And this piece by FCB Toronto for the Canadian Down Syndrome Society:

Down Syndrome Answers – Case Study from FCB Canada on Vimeo.

Can you even begin to put a price on that? Or on the challenges posed by so many great healthcare communications experts during the festival – to fight for our creativity, to seek out truth, to pick a fight, to change people’s lives…In short it’s priceless.

This morning I asked a colleague about recent shoot. The response was, “It was excellent. The clients were all there. Which was great because they said, ‘Now we know why it’s so expensive.’” Come on guys, we deal with this regularly. Is that why we feel that we can play the value card to Jose Papa and Ascential Events?

So, I hear you say, what did you experience at Lions Health that makes you so determined to fight its corner? Well, put simply, it boils down to 3 things:

  1. Challenge
  2. Inspiration
  3. Reinvigoration

Challenge 

With the subject matter we’re dealing with in the world of health and wellness, we have to raise our game. We have to find conflict in the stories we’re telling and we have to stop shying away from the truth. With no Grand Prix being offered in the Pharma world, we have to try harder.

Inspiration

Finally we have an industry that has stopped talking about what we can’t do due to regulatory restrictions. That symbolic change now allows us to focus on what we can do.

We can create something that has the power to save lives. We can make something that affects behaviour for good.

Reinvigoration

Being told ‘no’ on a regular basis takes its toll. Pushing the boundaries becomes tiring when sometimes it feels like you’re pushing on your own. Doing things differently makes you question if you’re the one in the wrong. Coming together. Celebrating. Sharing stories. Casting a vision. Laying down a challenge. All replenish. All build up. All make better.

So does it cost a lot to go to Cannes? I think the question should be – what’s the cost of not going?

How does corporate branding add value to an organisation?

How does corporate branding add value to an organisation?

Corporate branding adds long-term book value and profitability to an organisation. This is because it is the first essential step in the process of creating a credible and professional shop window for its products and services. It can also help to ensure that staff are engaged and that they feel empowered to deliver a better and more coherent experience to customers. It ensures that prospects are handled in a consistent way at every single touch point in the sales pipeline process. It improves the likelihood that the staff selection process will lead to the recruitment of people with resonant values and views. It will add value to the bottom line by creating goodwill in a business, where goodwill is measured as an intangible asset in financial terms on the balance sheet. Many organisations, especially those operating within the start-up enterprise and SME marketplace, fail to optimise their corporate brand proposition, in spite of the considerable value that a meaningful investment in this area can bring to the future value of their business. This is not entirely surprising. Corporate branding is arguably seen as being a ‘nice to have’, something which is perhaps not so relevant to smaller organisations. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you want your business to be more successful, investing in a corporate brand proposition is an essential component in the marketing planning process, as is an appropriate investment in stakeholder marketing communications.

Why is corporate branding important?

Corporate branding is important because it represents the character and personality of an organisation. Without such attributes, the company lacks a soul – or perhaps less spiritually, it is better to think of a brand as being the DNA of the company. It is sometimes easier to understand a brand if we think of ourselves as being brands. Take yourself. What does your brand proposition look like? What standards and principles guide the choices that you make? What opinions or views do you hold on matters important to your belief system? What moral code and ethical framework do you operate within? What are your natural skills and personal attributes. What genuine passions give your life a sense of meaning and purpose? The answer to these questions, in a nutshell, is why a corporate brand proposition is so important. It defines the values, views, virtues and vision of any organisation. It is a fundamental strategy to align the character and personality of the business with the behaviours and attitudes of its owners, directors, management team, employees, partners and associates.

Strategic brand proposition

We speak to all relevant stakeholders – such as shareholders, directors, management, employees, associates, partners, suppliers, customers and prospects – through one-to-one meetings, phone calls, online surveys, and any other means appropriate to individual client needs. This enables us to get a much better understanding for their business – it is a fast track methodology we use to develop a deep understanding of the business plan; much better than just reading it and any accompanying sales figures and growth forecasts. This process also enables us to get a really good feel for the inherent atmosphere and culture within the organisation, and we are able to clearly see any dissonance and incongruity between plans, perceptions and reality amongst all internal and external stakeholders. We often hold a series of workshops to discuss the business plan, organisational processes, products and services, customers and competitors. A review of competitor websites provides us with valuable insights into their marketing strategies, and we also use mystery shopping techniques to evaluate how they interact with customers, and desk research to analyse both digital and non-digital lead generation/business development activities. A review of customer segments helps us to understand the key demographics and psychographics that guide rational and emotional decision-making patterns. We also conduct focus groups, telephone research and online questionnaires where necessary and appropriate to do so. A review of the products and services offered by the organisation will enable us to identify the key features and benefits to inform the development of key messages and core propositions that are likely to resonate with various target audiences. We undertake additional desk research as necessary to finetune our understanding of external factors affecting the business, the industry sector at large, and the marketplace within which it operates, including different sales channel systems and distribution network methodologies. The next step in the process is a brainstorm to identify the values, views, virtues and vision of the business. These in turn allow us to create internal and external service charters that deliver meaningful pledges to relevant stakeholders. Finally, we are able to identify USPs and to make recommendations about positioning statements to assist with the creative process.

Creative brand proposition

The creative brand proposition unsurprisingly focuses on the visual side of things, which is often referred to as brand identity. This can include coming up with a new name for a business or product/service, and logo design. The scope of work involved will depend upon the needs of the individual client. In terms of brand identity, we always develop three creative concepts to share with the client, which we find is the sweet spot of choice to work with, and we apply these concepts to both logo options and design styles for core collateral relevant to the brief.

Stakeholder marketing communications

The next stage in the process is to develop stakeholder marketing communications – such as the website, brochures, stationery, exhibition stands, uniforms, signage, livery, presentations, videos, and so on. We follow an agile and dynamic approach to design development, as this is what always seems to work best. We work closely with clients to develop copy with the right tone of voice, to further refine the logo, icons, colour waves, stock imagery, photography, and so on. Each item follows on from the others, and it is normal to begin with the website and to work outwards from there.

Brand guidelines

This will inevitably end up with the production of a set of brand guidelines that are fit for purpose, as well as potentially leading to the creation of a staff handbook that is meaningful, engaging and useable. This process will be straightforward, because of all the time and effort expended in looking at the strategic and creative elements of the corporate brand proposition.

Lead generation

The final part in the process is to devise strategic and tactical campaigns for business generation purposes that are relevant and engaging, and which are of course based upon the strategic and creative brand proposition. This should be comparatively easy to do, because of all the planning work that has been put in place. It will also be a pretty simple process to create strategies that are effective, and creative outputs that resonate meaningfully with customer segments. This is where the measurement of KPIs concerning profit, sales, prospects and conversion can be put into place, as well as plans for optimising customer loyalty and maximising lifetime value.

Corporate brand proposition

If you would like to find out more about how Abacus Marketing can help you with the development of your corporate brand proposition to improve your organisation’s profitability and value, please contact Steve Brown, Head of Strategy & Planning, at steve.brown@abacusmarketing.co.uk, or by calling 020 7795 8175 for an initial discussion or to arrange a meeting.

Why I Became a CXO (who loves to fly)

Chung_UX
– Chung Ng (CXO)

I have a secret: I’m claustrophobic. It’s not debilitating, but I have trouble in cramped spaces and I hate being boxed in. When I fly, for example, I refuse to sit in the middle. And if that’s the only seat left on the last flight out, I white-knuckle it the whole way.

Back in the early days of online travel booking, this caused me a lot of problems. That’s because it was only after choosing a flight and paying for it that passengers could see which seat they were assigned. For me, that included the occasional dreaded middle seat. I realized this one element – seat uncertainty – marred my entire flying experience.

At the time, Rokkan was in the middle of a website redesign for Virgin America. I was also leading a team tasked with finding ways to improve Virgin’s customer experience across the board. Naturally, I started work on seat selection before you buy. Presenting customers with the ability to see and choose an available seat before they paid increased their satisfaction and improved their overall experience, which, I can tell you, doesn’t just start at takeoff.

RKN_VirginAmerica_Screen

In addition to changing their digital platforms to allow for seat selection, we also showed taxes and fees before purchase to be more transparent. Both decisions influenced Virgin America’s overall approach to customer experience, and soon the company added call-center support that quoted the final price and seat availability before purchase. While this allowed customers to shop around, it also led to brand loyalty that helped overcome the competition.

The program was a big success for Virgin America, and an eye-opener for me. I understood how important and complex the customer journey can be, and that many companies had lost sight of this fundamental and critical issue. That’s when I decided my focus at Rokkan would be trying to understand our clients from the perspective of their customer.

By 2012, I had been so focused on the customer experience that I gave myself a new title. When I typed Chief Experience Officer into Google, I saw the health care industry had been using the term for years. It made perfect sense – from the reception desk to the nurse to the doctor to the surgeon to the prescription to the follow up, the customer experience at hospitals is literally a matter life of death. I wanted to bring the same urgency to our clients, so I became Rokkan’s Chief Experience Officer.

In the years since, thousands of agencies and brands have carved out a place in the c-suite for the CXO, and in many cases, consumers are winning big as a result. The principle is simple: identify every point of entry the customer has with a brand, make each one as easy, meaningful and enjoyable as possible, and thread them all seamlessly together. In my world, that means bringing the digital and physical touchpoints together.

The world of online travel continues to evolve, and we have helped it innovate – but always with an eye toward making the customer experience better. When we developed a new mobile app for JetBlue, we didn’t start with the UI, features or functionality – we started with customer need. For JetBlue, we knew we weren’t just trying to replicate the dot com – no one wanted to book a flight on their phone. Instead, we decided to enhance the experience by allowing folks to use their app as a boarding pass. It worked.

RKN_JetBlue_Screens

While the ‘customer experience officer’ has become a bit of a buzz term, that doesn’t mean it’s not a vital role. On the contrary, the customer experience is central to any company’s mission. I would go so far as to say every CEO has to be something of a CXO (or at least employ a good one). After all, if your company has customers and your CEO doesn’t care about them, your customers don’t care about you.

As the world becomes more connected and customized, there are new challenges for CXOs like me. Technology, customer behavior and business needs are always evolving. That’s what makes this job fun and exciting.

And I never forget that I am also a customer who is far less frequently squished into a middle seat.