How a Branded Customer Experience is Essential To Success

January 12, 2017

2016 was my 20th anniversary as a marketer! Apart from reminding me how old I am, it also was a wonderful way to recognise the brand, customer experience and marketing knowledge that I have been blessed to receive along the way. For me, my first day as a marketer was the day I joined Nokia in 1996. To give some background I actually started work 10 years before that (as a 16 year old fresh faced engineering apprentice working for British Rail) but my life as an engineer was very very different. British Rail Telecommunications originated from a government owned company and was eventually bought by a private company. However, there was no real competition for us. We ran the largest private telecommunications network in the UK and we just got on and did it. On my last day before leaving to join Nokia, our British Rail commercial manager actually said to me “Are you sure about this Phil? This is the easiest job you will ever have, you are about to enter the real world”.

Well he wasn’t wrong about the change from British Rail to Nokia, it was huge but it was also fantastic. At the time I joined, Nokia was a dynamic and fast growing company head quartered in Espoo, Finland. As background, the history of Nokia as a company dates back to 1865 with the creation of a pulp mill business. Nokia is actually the name of the town where the second pulp mill was built! During my first week, I was very proud to receive my first personal mobile phone (Nokia 2110 – I still have it, same as the one in the photo) and was overjoyed that I had the option to choose from 8 ringtones! SMS was only a couple of years old and you couldn’t text your colleague/ friend if he was with a different network operator. Yet the Nokia 2100 series was still seen as revolutionary and was so popular that it sold 200 million worldwide – the original forecast was only 400,000. Based on the way people lived and worked at the time this was mega disruption on the highest scale. At British Rail I had a pager and the office would send me a message to call them. I would have to find a landline to give them a call…….yep, I am that old……you want to try and explain this to your own teenage kids! Nokia was transforming the way humans communicated and as we would all agree, the social impact has been huge (some may also debate how much is good or bad).

I spent 10 years at Nokia in some sensational global roles - focusing on customer insight, segmentation, product development, end to end services, customer experience and brand. By 1998 Nokia had become the world leader in the mobile phones market.

Being part of such an amazing organisation has held me in good stead when starting my own businesses with my co-founders :-

Always think like a challenger brand - never be complacent ….disruption in your industry could be just around the next corner! Many people don’t realise that Nokia is still a hugely successful global company. It has a global network business and also Nokia technologies. In Q3 2106 the non-IFRS net sales of Nokia was 5.9 billion euros. The brand is still strong within the telecommunications industry, although the Nokia brand will also return into the smartphone device market in 2017 via HMD, a Finnish venture led by former Nokia executives.

One of the main reasons why Nokia was so successful is that it employed people who saw everything as an exciting challenge. Plus Nokia created a strategy that had a laser focus. As Abraham Lincoln said ‘Give me 6 hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first 4 hours sharpening the axe’. In the late 80’s and early 90’s Nokia had a diverse product range including televisions, PCs, tyres and even rubber boots. However, the decision was made in 1992 to focus on telecommunications. As we always say to our clients you must always create your strategy before building your plan. Nokia executed their strategy and the results were phenomenal. During my initial years at Nokia there were lots of issues to deal with but the attitude of all staff was amazing. Our leadership team pretty much banned the word “Problem” - they would suggest we see it as a challenge that we just needed to overcome.

A great company culture is vital. When I joined there was 26,000 people globally working at Nokia. However, my manager gave me a piece of paper with 24 names on it and said. These people will all become your friends. Book a flight to Helsinki and go and meet them all and make sure you get time to have a drink or have lunch with as many as possible. They will all explain what they do and how they can help you help your own customers (initially my customers were telecomms operators). Even the tagline ‘Connecting People’ highlighted the importance of human to human, both externally and internally. Never forget who you are talking to - every business is run by people who want to be treated the same way the you do.

Your customers need to love what you do - brand and customer experience should be part of every business decision and communicated in every message. For me, this is where the ‘magic’ happens and one of my favourite subjects. It isn’t about one or the other, it’s about both. Customer branded experience is essential to success but it needs to be directly linked to your brand. Now, by brand I don’t mean just your logo. Put simply your brand is what your customer thinks when he or she hears your business name. It is everything they think or know, be that factual or emotional. Your brand is how you ‘speak’ to your customers - your visual and verbal identity. What would someone say about your business when they hear your business name and you’re not there? In relation to Nokia there is somewhat of a love resurgence going on. I am part of a ex-Nokia employee Facebook group that has over 27,000 members - a number that is increasing every day. The discussion topics are based on the positive experiences of working for a company that had so much respect for every individual. Culture was directly linked to the brand and everything we did. At the time I am not sure many of us realised how truly lucky we were to work there. However, we are now building a culture at Marketing Entourage that is based on the same values.

So, my suggestions on what to do next.

1) How do you feel your business is positioned - does it have a challenger mentality? Do you talk to your existing the same as you would a new customer?

2) What is the company culture in your business and what would you like to change? How often do you talk to your own team and do you think they feel valued? Have you asked ever asked them?

3) Have a think about what are your favourites brands and why? How do they make you feel? Why are they your favourites? How do they communicate with you?

Then think about your own business brand and whether your customers would feel the same about you. If they don’t then start to consider what you can change.

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Marketing Entourage is a marketing service provider for purpose driven businesses using design and innovation to create amazing branded experiences through the affordability of a subscription. We use the latest thinking frameworks and our unique human centred methodology to co-create strategies with our clients and develop innovative plans to create effective branded experiences. We then help implement the plan over a period of time using a range of creative services that clients have access to through a subscription. Instead of only one marketing solution or hiring a marketing person our clients have a Marketing Entourage.

 

by Phil Ore

Phil Ore

Written by Phil Ore

Phil Ore is the co-founder of Marketing Entourage, co-founder of Entrepreneurs&Co and global ambassador for Inspiring Rare Birds. He has dedicated his professional career to helping people and businesses succeed through human centred strategic design, idea generation and brand expertise to improve the customers experience. During his global career, Phil has been fortunate to have had a wide range of roles working for, and alongside, some the worlds largest corporations and brands. Phil is passionate about the Australian startup ecosystem and is a mentor, advisor, MC, and panelist for various social impact, NFP, entrepreneurship and technology based businesses and events.

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