Accenture’s CMO on B2B Brand Development
How is a CMO to roll out a new brand, purpose, and business strategy all at the same time? As Accenture’s CMO Amy Fuller says, “Instead of focusing on speed to the answer, focus on inclusion of the process.”
This episode with Amy dots all the i’s and crosses all the t’s as she walks us through why Accenture decided to rebrand, how they developed their purpose, and how they’ve brought it to life and redefined their business strategy. With a wealth of insights into the true value of a dedicated brand development strategy, this is a lesson in one CMO’s dedication to develop an everlasting purpose for ever-changing business needs—don’t miss it!
What You’ll Learn in This Episode
- How Accenture brought its rebrand to life
- Why brand purpose is integral to business strategy
- How to find a lasting brand purpose
Renegade Thinkers Unite, Episode 237 on YouTube
- [0:28] On New York and New CEOs
- [8:48] Connecting Brand Purpose and Business Strategy
- [17:15] Behind Accenture’s Rebranding Process
- [29:45] How Accenture Launched its New Purpose
- [35:14] Accenture’s Rebrand Metrics
- [43:02] Lessons Learned: Embrace the Process
Transcript Highlights: Drew Neisser in conversation with Amy Fuller
[0:28] On New York and New CEOs“It's always said that leaders bring the weather, but CEOs really bring the vision.” —@AmyFuller @Accenture Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: Hello, Renegade Thinkers! In preparation for this show—now, I always prepare—I was watching a very well-produced virtual event summarizing the technology trends of 2021.
Now, like you, I find it hard to just watch something when I’ve got emails coming in on one screen and Slack on another and SMS on my phone, so don’t ask me to playback all the trends. Here’s the gist of it, the pandemic forced about six years of digital transformation into a few months. For many business leaders, 2021 is, in quote, “A moment of truth, an ultimate test of”—now, pay attention here—“IQ, EQ, and something Accenture labeled TQ, as in technology quotient.”
For you CMOs, it’s not enough for you to be strategically smart, you also need emotional intelligence, particularly empathy, to stay connected with your teams. You need enough digital savvy to make sure your company isn’t getting left behind in yesterday’s analog ways. Now I know most of you are in fact pretty high on your TQ quotient.
But if that trifecta of IQ, EQ, and TQ wasn’t a big enough test, brace yourself as we enter a new world of hybrids—hopefully this year, assuming lots of people get vaccinated—because we’re going to have home and work-home offices and work offices; we’re going to have physical and virtual events; we’re going to have streaming video and live theater.
Now, all of that said, near the end of the virtual event there is one moment in this presentation by Paul Daugherty, Accenture’s CTO, that I can remember verbatim. It was a quote from a Chinese proverb that goes like this, “When the winds of change blow, some people build walls, others build windmills.”
Some build walls, some build windmills. I’m definitely in the windmill camp. CMO Huddles, which I’ve talked about and we’ll talk about again later in the show, started in 2020. It’s a windmill, but what about you? Are you building walls between you and your teams? Between you and your customers? Or are you harnessing the winds of change? Are you letting the change flow through your organization and your customer relationships?
Okay, enough with philosophizing. You’re going to have to trust me, all of that made sense because today’s guest is Amy Fuller, the CMO of Accenture. Yes, the company whose virtual event I mentioned a second ago.
Amy started her career on the agency side, with stops at Ogilvy and Y&R, followed by a long run at MasterCard and almost five years at Deloitte before joining Accenture in August 2017. I bet that feels like ages ago. Anyway, since then, Amy has the distinction of having worked for three different CEOs, a challenge we will definitely talk about. Our main story today is about the massive rebranding project that Amy and her teammates recently went through. With that, Amy, welcome to the show.
Amy Fuller: Well, thank you Drew. That was the best setup ever.
Drew Neisser: Oh, there you go.
Amy Fuller: Also, the Paul Daugherty quote, and I do have to provide one more tidbit about Paul Daugherty with the wind quote. The guy is a really serious sailor. I was like, “Sailboat, sailboat, sailboat,” when you said windmill, but I guess he didn’t feel that he could adulterate the actual proverb.
Drew Neisser: I don’t want to go all political on you, but when I saw that phrase, I’m thinking about walls that were built and windmills and things, I’m thinking “Oh…” I actually tried to find how long ago that proverb came from because I would love it to be hundreds of years old.
Amy Fuller: And?
Drew Neisser: I didn’t find it.
Amy Fuller: Maybe it’s brand new. No, Paul would never do that.
Drew Neisser: It’s one of those that shows up a lot in those photos with wonderful words on it, and I’m a sucker for those. I admit it. We are in the business of not walls, but windmills. First, where are you? Guests always like to know today because you could be anywhere.
Amy Fuller: I’m in my tiny little study in Manhattan where I have been a lot. I know it well now. I know every crevice of every wall at this point.
Drew Neisser: I know that you, like me, as a Manhattanite and a New Yorker at this point in our lives are really hoping that New York will come back soon. I was so upset with The Post’s headline today, just so negative on New York. I really wanted to, well, what can I say. By the way, personally, do you see, besides sides of spring, are you sharing any optimism about New York and it coming back?
Amy Fuller: Well, I have a reading to recommend, actually, which is Here is New York by E.B. White. He published it in 1949. It’s a fabulous read. What is so funny about it is he makes this point about how New York has no right to actually exist, it should fall under its own weight of failing infrastructure. This was written in 1949 and I thought, well, we’re in a classic location with classic problems and classic endurance, so I’m very optimistic.
Drew Neisser: I love it. Yes. Nothing like a little historical perspective. We’ve gone through this before and we will get through it again.
I mentioned in the setup that you came to work for three CEOs and we all know the importance of this relationship, so how’s that worked out?
Amy Fuller: I mean it would not have been expected—I was hired by a wonderful, iconic man named Pierre Nanterme, who unfortunately stepped down and subsequently died a little over a year into my tenure at Accenture.
Drew Neisser: Oh gosh, how sad.
Amy Fuller: He was succeeded by another truly outstanding human being who’s currently our board chair. He had been the CFO and he was our interim CEO as we conducted the search, landing on yet another truly iconic CEO, Julie Sweet, who took post a year ago last September. She has been a whirlwind of energy on literally every front, but absolutely on the brand. Anything I can talk about today is because of the energy that she’s brought to the entire place.
Drew Neisser: I want to talk about that. We had a Super Huddle recently where we had three CEOs join about 45 CMOs and the whole focus was the CEO/CMO relationship. One thing that struck me is how different CEOs are from each other in style and temperament and in understanding of marketing.
One of the things that was also clear is that CMOs have to adjust to the styles of their CEOs. First of all, you’ve had three in three years, is that a fair generalization that you needed to adjust a bit to their styles each time?
Amy Fuller: Absolutely for sure. It’s always said that leaders bring the weather, but CEOs really bring the vision. The content, the substance of what you deal with, that in it of itself is a pretty significant factor in what you’re doing.
Drew Neisser: “Bring the vision” is such a great statement. It’s funny, I had one CMO recently lament, he said, “When I got on the job, I thought the CEO had great vision. Now he’s presented 19 different visions and now I realize maybe perhaps he doesn’t.” Vision is not something that you necessarily change. It’s sort of like you spend some time getting there and then you go for it.
[8:48] Connecting Brand Purpose and Business Strategy“Purpose done well really gets at three things: what you do, why you do it, and then how you do it.” —@AmyFuller @Accenture Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: Let’s talk about Julie Sweet, your current CEO, and how that set up the need for the rebranding.
Amy Fuller: I gotta say, it was the most amazing 12 months of change to have gone through. What was going on is we were nearing the conclusion of what had been business strategy when I came in—short-handed rotation to the new. One of the things that Julie and I got to work with immediately is, what is the business strategy through 2025? That was foundational, that was one piece.
The second piece that was also absolutely foundational is we knew we had not articulated a purpose. That’s very behind the times I will say for any cutting-edge company like ourselves, so that was something that also needed to happen.
At the beginning of both of those efforts, I remember Julie saying to me: “Well, what about the brand, Amy?” We had a brand that was dubbed “New applied now,” which was perfectly in sync with the rotation to the new business strategy. I said, “Well, we wouldn’t be able to answer the question ‘What about the brand?’ until the business strategy and the purpose both land.” Then, obviously, there you go.
Drew Neisser: I want to talk about how those things interact. In an ideal world, let’s think about this–there is a business strategy, right? This is how we’re going to grow, and this is who we’re going to serve and you’re going to make some definitions. Typically, in an ideal world, marketing gets to inform a little bit because certainly marketing can be baked into that business strategy, but when does purpose become part of business strategy and business strategy drive purpose?
Amy Fuller: The way I see purpose is meant to endure kind of forever. Business strategy on the other hand is about fueling growth right now. I’m sure it varies by sector, but within a fast-changing sector which is so informed by technology as ours is, there’s no such thing as the forever business strategy. It’s, what do clients need right now to grow? Then that’s our answer to how we would grow as well. There’s a big timeframe difference.
Drew Neisser: I get it. It’s true. Business strategies have to change because marketplaces change. Getting to a purpose—so if in fact there wasn’t a purpose, and the purpose of the organization was to make money for the shareholders, that’s typically what the purpose of most organizations is if it isn’t stated in a different way.
Amy Fuller: I would say that’s the objective. The purpose operates on really three levels. I would argue that purpose done well really gets at three things: what you do, why you do it, and then how you do it.
Depending on the nature of your business, the sector, who you are, you might lean heavier on “why” versus “how.” Our purpose ended up—and this was months of careful work and workshopping—leaning towards “how.” Where we landed was our purpose is to deliver on the promise of technology and human ingenuity. That is how we do it—technology and human ingenuity.
Then the business strategy, by contrast, is about driving 360-degree value for our clients by embracing change. How we do that is delivering on the promise of technology and human ingenuity. That is how they fit together. In that way, the promise should last into the indefinite. Nothing’s forever, but you certainly don’t redo your purpose every couple of years. It’s meant to be your North Star for a good long period of time.
Drew Neisser: Let’s talk a little bit about what/why/how, Simon Sinek, Golden Circle—what were some of the key steps that you went through?
Consulting firms—and I know this from talking to other CMOs at other consulting firms and having actually worked with several—typically, they are really fiefdoms on a global level, fiefdoms on a practice level of individuals who have an expertise and have a set of clients. There are some common methodologies and some common things, but it’s people. I would imagine that process that you went through to find this purpose had to involve a lot of people. Can you talk about it?
Amy Fuller: I loved our process. I loved it and I think had we not followed the process we did, we would never have landed, let alone well. Because Accenture is a global, publicly-traded company, we are actually in contrast with fiefdoms and other business models that might exist.
We are one Accenture. Our differentiator is the breadth of what we’re able to do for our clients. Putting that aside though, we had three primary kinds of input. The first was in-depth leader interviews. Interestingly, at the beginning of the process, our global management committee was about 18 of us. That was the core of our leader group.
In roughly the middle of the process, we enacted a big growth model change. Guess what, the 18 people became more like 40 and it wasn’t all the same 18. It was a new combination, some of the same familiar characters. We had a lot of leader input.
The other thing that really mattered—we have 540,000 people. We invited them all to give us input. We got good levels of participation. We made sure that we had representation from all geographies, all service lines, and all degrees of tenure in the business. We were capturing all of the generations workwise and demographically in our workplace, so that was really, really significant.
The third was a good, healthy, external impartial, expert kind of view. Think of Chief Economists and the like, just to make sure that we weren’t being overly sequestered in our own pace.
Drew Neisser: I want to take a second and plug CMO Huddles. Launched in 2020, CMO Huddles is an invitation-only subscription service that brings together an elite group of CMOs to share, care, and dare each other to greatness. One CMO described Huddles as, “Timely conversations with smart peers in a trusted environment.” I love that. Another called Huddles, “A cross between executive workshops and a therapy session.” If you’re a B2B CMO that can share and care with the best of them visit CMOhuddles.com.
[17:15] Behind Accenture’s Rebranding Process“The redoing of the brand idea was 100% virtual, which I have literally never seen happen.” —@AmyFuller @Accenture Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: Amy was just walking us through this extensive process, and I just want to put a big punctuation on this—whether you’re at a small company or a big company, if you are going to establish a purpose or change your purpose, you need a lot of people involved.
One thing you talked about is having a leadership committee. That’s really important because, if this is just a marketing initiative, it won’t work. Two, you talked about surveying a bunch of people out in all geographies, so employees feel part of it. It’s not just that you want that information, it’s also that you want them to know that you want their voice. Then the third thing is you got outside perspective.
What’d I miss in that? Let’s get a sense of how long it took you from deciding we were going to find our purpose through this phase of research.
Amy Fuller: Well, I would say we started in September. We started workshopping in the Fall with Julie, our CEO, and just a smaller group. We workshopped—we were trying to count it the other day. I don’t know how many workshops we did, but the idea was never “sell” ever. It was never “sell.” It was “share the thinking, share the language.”
Part of this was an analysis of what are others saying in our competitive set. One of the most important criteria was it must be differentiating. We can’t just describe the category. That will not work for us.
Drew Neisser: Thank you for saying that word. It is the goal of any marketer to differentiate your brand. Full stop. It’s just got to be part of your thinking. I think it’s interesting—you are the leader in your category, so you in theory could sell the category, but, nonetheless, you have strong competition, so it was important that this be unique and distinctive to Accenture. That’s valid, I know I’m stating the obvious, but I just want to—
Amy Fuller: Yeah, no, it is. We have a very mixed competitive set. I think probably most categories are complicated, but we have a very mixed set depending on what it is we are working on with clients from boutique on up, so defining the category would be tricky indeed. We do want to be an “of one.”
Drew Neisser: Of one. One of the torture tests or litmus tests for any kind of statement like a purpose statement is, could a lot of other people say it?
Amy Fuller: Exactly.
Drew Neisser: So you go through this process for the Fall. First of all, were you working with an external partner on this?
Amy Fuller: Well, this was the best part of all. Droga5 had just joined us as part of Accenture Interactive.
Drew Neisser: Right.
Amy Fuller: They were brand new as part of Accenture, and then as our agency. It was “Hi, welcome on board. Now you’re going to do our work. Also, we’re going to be one of your clients, so to speak, and we’ve got to figure out our purpose. Welcome.”
It was fantastic. I can’t even—well I probably could dimensionalize fears that could manifest going into that kind of a situation because we’re incredibly hard to understand.
Drew Neisser: Right.
Amy Fuller: But what happened was, it was like the world’s best thing. Then we had to take not an out-and-out pause, we were still working in the background, but around the middle of that Fall period, we started doing really, really intense work on the growth model that we then needed to launch in short order. That was a short fuse project that was quite comprehensive and involved a lot of marketing and communications activity and thinking and resources.
As it turns out, we landed in our last in-person global management committee meeting before the crisis, which was February, a full year ago. That was when we landed what would become now the 40-or-so-person global management committee. The end result of all of those workshops—we landed the language, then we left Tokyo. Then, of course, lots of other stuff happened but I’ll hold back on all of the details, Drew.
Drew Neisser: In the process up to getting to your purpose statement, delivering on the promise of tech and human ingenuity—or close to that—were there any “aha” moments for you?
Amy Fuller: Oh, a kazillion. Now one thing on the process I’d say—and the benefit of having multiple workshops versus any kind of orientation that would say, “Let’s sell it”—is that we started out in a good, kind of differentiating territory, but it was fairly general. As we workshopped it, we got more and more specific.
I think the differentiation comes from the specificity of the language. It was really interesting to see what it takes for that to happen. You need the room of people who really know the place and the space and are brainiacs in their own right, and then to kick it around and sleep on it. Then kick it around again. That was a good finding, a really good finding about the process of creation, quite honestly.
Drew Neisser: So we’ll get to that. We have to put it on hold. Talk a little bit about how—they’re just words on a page. At some point in time, in order become real and really drive things, they can become part of the operations, they can change employee evaluations, they can change the way we talk about the business. Talk a little bit about how you started to dimensionalize this. This is just words, right? How do you make it real?
Amy Fuller: Actually, it was not on hold ever. When we went into our tiny studies in Manhattan and equivalencies, the work that then happened was, “Okay, now we know we need to redo the brand.”
Drew Neisser: Right.
Amy Fuller: The redoing of the brand idea was 100% virtual, which I have literally never seen happen.
Drew Neisser: Right. Let’s talk about that. We don’t have time to do the whole thing, but what’s up for grabs? When we talk about brand in your case, besides a new tagline to replace the one that you had mentioned already, when we’re talking about brand, what were the key components that we should be focused on?
Amy Fuller: The thing was, because we are all about our clients, we had paid a lot of attention in the business strategy development and the purpose development of what do our clients think and what do they need. How can we help them? How are we uniquely able to help?
One of the things that we’ve been saying, actually, for a couple of years—not a brand-new thing, but a thing that was heightening in importance—is this idea that change is perpetual. If there was ever a moment where you did a transformation, say a digital transformation, and then you are good to go for a couple of years or X period of time—not anymore. Never. Probably never again. It’s a continuous state.
That raises a lot of questions. If we were about delivering 360-degree value, how do we do that? One of the tidbits that I found the most helpful was coming out of our brand tracker, as well as qualitative client research that said, “How do you pick a professional services provider?” We did some regression analysis. Number one is knowledge of my industry. Number two: ability to help me handle change. And Accenture did it spectacularly well on that dimension.
The idea that we are helping clients 360 degrees, but to embrace change was what led us to the line of, “Let there be change.” That was optimism. It was hopeful.
Drew Neisser: Oh my gosh, let’s face it. It’s, “Let there be light.” One can get to that—it’s a big promise. I think back to your days at Ogilvy, there was a creative director there who said, “Big brands do big things.” Well, this is certainly a big promise of let there be change. I want to go back to something that I think is so interesting and so important as you’re looking for these and as other CMOs are thinking about it…
You looked at the brand tracking, you could have said, “Well number one, most important is knowledge so let’s make our brand about that and our deep, deep industry expertise.” But you know what? What’s interesting to me is you went to number two instead. To me, I’m guessing, industry knowledge is table stakes to some extent—handling change feels like something that you could own.
Amy Fuller: You’ve nailed it, Drew. The question is, what is important where differentiation lives? It’s got to be really important, but we’ve got to be able to differentiate.
Industry knowledge is a really big part of our storyline and how we go to market, in fact, so it’s not that we’ve neglected it. And in fact, the whole idea of our campaign is to drive to further involvement with Accenture. For example, getting involved with our thought leadership and all of its many, many forms and formats, and topic areas. That is what we’re tracking actually, are people doing that? Luckily, the answer is, “Yes, they are,” and much more so than they have in the past.
Drew Neisser: I want to make sure I understood that because I was writing down something. Say that again just in terms of people doing something.
Amy Fuller: The whole idea of the campaign is to entice further engagement with Accenture. In most cases, what that will look like is involvement with the many, many pieces of thought leadership we put out that address big trends. They address industry, industry knowledge, and industry trends as well. That’s how we’re connecting the things that are the levers the preference in our marketing mix.
Drew Neisser: Right. It’s interesting, now you have this giant context. If it’s, “Let there be change,” rather than, “Here are the trends.” Obviously, you need to focus on trends even more than you might have before, but it’s in the context of, what is changing?
You now have to look at everything in terms of what is changing and what is good change. By the way, I did connect some of the dots there from your trends presentation and this notion of change. It’s interesting, obviously, that there was some consistency there.
[29:45] How Accenture Launched its New Purpose“Every piece of work product that I see, I see the purpose reflected.” —@AmyFuller @Accenture Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: I am curious about how you introduced this to employees and if there was time to introduce it to them before you launched it publicly?
Amy Fuller: Ah. How we launched it, in some ways you could argue was more important than what we were launching given that we have 540,000 people and, as I always say, they are not brand ambassadors, they are the brand. Literally.
We put together a series of events. The first thing we did was put together—it sounds incredible now—three-hour virtual meetings with all of our managing directors. That’s roughly, I think, about 8,000 people.
We do everything twice because we’re global. We do the evening and then the morning, East Coast, to cover all time zones. We did it twice, and it needed to be three hours because it was a very in-depth walkthrough of what is our business strategy of delivering 360-degree value?
Luckily, I would say, thank goodness we’ve got people in the organization who are experts in how adults learn. And guess what, it’s not three hours of PowerPoint. That would not be how adults learn. We put together a very dynamic—using the best platforms we were using at the time—panels, discussions, different pieces, videos. It got incredible response and participation, so that was the first thing.
Then a couple of weeks later, to the entire organization, again these two virtual things—shorter though, let’s call it 75 minutes, but similarly, a very dynamic virtual presentation of, “Here’s our strategy, here’s our purpose, here’s our brand.” That was the day before we launched it. That was essentially the launch, though, because once you talk to that many people, you’ve launched it.
Drew Neisser: How many weeks before the official launch, when you first did the three-hour virtual events, how far in advance was that to the launch?
Amy Fuller: That was four weeks. It was four weeks because I think we might have had earnings in between. We had a reason to wait. It could have been closer together, but it was actually nice to have the strategy settled among the leadership crew.
Drew Neisser: One of the things that’s really interesting to me is, we’re talking about business strategy, purpose, and brand in one fell swoop, being introduced to 540,000 people who, as you say, are the brand. What changed at Accenture that made these things real?
Amy Fuller: What happened is, after the virtual event—and we’ve used this model for other big things as well—it was centrally led but locally brought to life. The centrally lead means all the materials, the messaging, the thinking, the ideas need to be highly consistent because the ill of any big organization is fragmentation. But the strength is segmentation, and that applies to the internal population as well.
After we did the big launch, then we had many, many fun things for people. One of the things we did is then the markets—the three, we were organized by three: North America, Europe, and then growth markets—did their own events. It was based on the same material, but with the freedom to do their own events. It made it much more relevant and much more tailored to the people in the markets. That worked incredibly well. We have a series of additional activations that will go on probably indefinitely as well.
[35:14] Accenture’s Rebrand Metrics“I would say it's a fool's errand to try to do actual ROI for most businesses because it's almost impossible to disentangle cause and effect from all of the dynamics.” —@AmyFuller @Accenture Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: So far, we have focused on the internal launch and how you allowed—I love this notion of segmentation not fragmentation. It’s such a good insight just in and of itself.
What I’m hearing you talk about is the communication of this idea, and this new platform to speak about it, and I guess the business strategy. What I was trying to get to is, organizations tend to follow what is measured, right? That drives organization.
If I’m a CMO and I measure based on delivery of 50% of pipeline, then that’s what I’m going to focus on. If I’m an engineer and I have to get X number of projects done, I’m going to focus on that. When you introduce a new strategy and a purpose, it becomes real when suddenly it shows up in how you’re evaluated and what you’re measured on, to me. I’m just curious if that worked into any of this?
Amy Fuller: I actually have to think about that. What we have always owed the board and ourselves are increases in brand value because we’re a very well branded enterprise, so that is what we’ve been delivering.
What I believed we owed the organization was, because we had tripled our paid media budget, our brand budget, we needed to exceed that in terms of the metrics that we were able to deliver in the campaign. That is how we look at the campaign in a variety of measures that get at preference shift and engagement and other things that should be affected by brand campaign.
For the purpose, by contrast though, the question around purpose was, “Do we have one?” As part of an all-people survey—and this was terrifying I have to say. It wasn’t about purpose. It was infield just a handful of weeks after we had launched purpose, so guess what one of the questions was? It was, “Do you know we have a single purpose?” I’m like, “Oh no, it’s is too early.”
What came back was more than 80% of our top-tier leaders knew. And then a big percentage of all those 8,000 or so managing directors knew. Even more than half of everybody knew. But that was the right shape because you want it to be from the people leading the business through. I see that everywhere I look. Every piece of work product that I see, I see the purpose reflected.
We’ve renamed and rethought, for example, some of our major award programs that we conduct internally. We went back to really look at our talent brand, and the talent brand is all about creating the conditions for human ingenuity to thrive. They’re very, very natural ways which I think is one side of, did we land on the right idea and the right language to help guide to, Drew, one of your earlier questions about, “How’s it real, how is it beyond words on a screen?”
Drew Neisser: I wanted to get to metrics because this is such an important part of it. It’s a conversation that CMOs have when they’re trying to get to a board-level to say, “We need to invest in brand.” Obviously, Accenture is way past that.
One of the questions that comes up is how are we going to measure it? How are we going to demonstrate business value for it? You touched on obviously brand tracking metrics, external metrics.
But one thing that I think is so important that often is overlooked in these rebrandings is, as you called it, the talent brand or the employer brand and how important that is to recruiting. By the way, it’s quite likely it will be even more important in the next year or two or three as we get back to a high level of employment not that, in the services world, the employment level stayed high.
Anyway, I would think that those would be the metrics. I just want to make sure, were there any other important metrics to you in terms of business value metrics? Because we can talk about brand. With all of your sophistication, do you have a sense of when this attribute goes up, business goes up?
Amy Fuller: Our last quarter we had record-breaking business results in terms of new booking. I mean, just record-breaking. Now, do I take credit for that? No, I do not. That would be obnoxious, wouldn’t it?
Drew Neisser: Oh, come on, somebody has to take credit for it. You’ve got a new brand and a new strategy; how can you not take credit for it?
Amy Fuller: The gift of digital media is that you can see what is actually driving engagement and what’s driving, for example, organic search volume, branded search volume. Who’s coming to our website? What are they doing when they get there? All of that we’re tracking very carefully to make sure that we’re getting more than our money’s worth.
Those are the kinds of things that—I would say it’s a fool’s errand to try to do actual ROI for most businesses because it’s almost impossible to disentangle cause and effect from all of the dynamics. In the services business, quadruple true because of the role of the individual and the teams and the actual people, so disentangling that, you can find associations and you can find correlation. You can find, am I getting at least my money’s worth? That’s what we’re looking for.
Drew Neisser: Right. You really are subject to classic metrics of brand health and reach and lift, right? Lift, even though you had it, you can’t take credit for it. But you are in, in that sense—as you said, Accenture is not a brand that has an awareness problem.
Amy Fuller: Exactly, yeah.
Drew Neisser: So, really it comes down to I guess they’d use the term “salience.” It’s like, “Are you relevant to the problem that I want to solve right now?”
Amy Fuller: Exactly, yeah, and are you relevant to the growth drivers for our clients and for ourselves, which are one and the same.
Drew Neisser: Having gone through this massive undertaking, really—most of the time on the show we either talk about change the brand, or change the purpose, or change the business strategy. We rarely talk about all three in the context of one thing, which is why this show is so interesting to me.
In a sense, one should do that because they’re all connected, right? They really should be connected and when you do them independently, it’s problematic. But that’s life.
[43:02] Lessons Learned: Embrace the Process“Instead of focusing on speed to the answer, focus on inclusion of the process.” —@AmyFuller @Accenture Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: Were there any huge surprises along the way in any point of this journey of business strategy to purpose to expression of the purpose and the rebranding?
Amy Fuller: The biggest surprise, I have to say, is creating, developing, launching an entirely new brand, an effort that involves many, many people. Certainly, Droga5 at the heart of it, and additional partners, all of my team, and others, all virtually.
Having grown up for decades on the ad agency side of life, you look at work in person. If it’s a Sunday meeting, you are in the hallway looking at the work that’s on the ground or now on the screen. But to do all of that virtually and to present it virtually, both to Julie and then to the board, all virtually, I would have thought that would have been just this insurmountable, “Oh my, how hard is this?” As we talked among my team, we did it without tears. Maybe that was the most surprising thing.
Drew Neisser: It’s funny, we’ve sort of all adapted to this. It’ll be interesting as we do get to this hybrid, how things will change. I’m curious—if you had to suddenly do this again, god forbid, I know it’s a lot, what would you do differently?
Amy Fuller: That’s such a good question, Drew. I would probably have more faith that it will turn out incredibly well. I think that I had great guidance from Julie at every step. I have to say, in terms of the process itself and where I changed my view on what works well had to do with—instead of focusing on speed to the answer, focus on inclusion of the process. That I did, but I don’t know that I understood it. Now I understand it and would more deliberately craft it.
Drew Neisser: This came up in the most unlikely way. I was watching a teacher last night speak for an hour and a half on the history of slavery, and it was a fascinating thing.
Afterward, we had a discussion about it—this was among an alumni group. The thing that was so interesting in this thing is, here we are, a bunch of get stuff done people. What mattered in that moment was not that we were going to solve something that was 300 years in the making, but that we were in the process. I take what you said and it’s really a stop-and-think moment, I think, for any driven marketing professional. Sometimes it’s about the process.
Amy Fuller: I think it often is, actually.
Drew Neisser: We don’t think about that because we have our to-do lists and we’ve got to get stuff done. “You have a rebrand. We’ve got to get our logo done. We’ve got to pick a design and I got to get the right people in the room to approve it.”
In something as important as what you’re talking about, the process and the inclusion, if you will, not just the process but involving people and being open to that input, it’s fascinating that you would hit on that. I would think, you as an ex-agency person, that was kind of hard.
Amy Fuller: Oh, yeah. You’re oriented in the opposite direction, actually.
Drew Neisser: That’s really interesting. That was a profound little moment, and one that I hope the listeners really truly appreciate. It’s not about stopping and smelling the roses, which is a different story.
Amy Fuller: Right.
Drew Neisser: This is about having the right people involved in your organization to help get there. Last question for you before we wrap up—because the folks have finished their work out, they’re now trying to dry off, and they say, “Bring it to a close Drew, please.” Give to the audience, if you were to start on this again, two dos and a don’t in terms of branding. Let’s focus on the rebranding process. Two dos and a don’t.
Amy Fuller: I would say one to do is be very mindful of how you’re using virtual platforms. We’re a big user of Teams, but you have to break every bad habit you’ve ever developed around multitasking when you’re doing creative work remotely. You also have to explain why you are going off-camera—
Drew Neisser: Yeah.
Amy Fuller: And why are you going back on camera, and don’t text colleagues while people are presenting work. That’s a do and a don’t simultaneously. Do I get a doubleheader with that?
Drew Neisser: It is. Yeah, you do. I think that’s so important and it’s so hard right now, and this is the big question of collaboration in are we over-Zoomed in all of that? I think we got so much out of this show. I just want to thank you, Amy, for spending the time with us on this fascinating journey. I certainly wish you the best of luck, so thank you.
Amy Fuller: Thank you, Drew. Thank you for having me. It’s been an absolute pleasure.
Drew Neisser: To the listeners, if you enjoyed this episode and are still working out, do me a favor. Go to your favorite podcast channel and give us a six-star review. This was just a fantastic episode if I do say so myself.
Renegade Thinkers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser. Audio production is by Sam Beck. The show notes are written by Melissa Caffrey. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and the intro voiceover is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about quite possibly the best B2B marketing agency in New York City, visit renegade.com. And until next time, keep those Renegade Thinking Caps on and strong.