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Women In Comms

NTT CMO: How to 'adjust and be agile' during a rebranding

Rebranding a global service provider isn't just about rethinking logos and marketing materials, it also requires an audit of the applications and technology platforms used to support the company's marketing team, explains NTT CMO Ruth Rowan.

In part one of this Women in Comms mentor spotlight series, Rowan shared the challenges and learnings from the rebranding process of 31 companies within NTT Ltd. She explained how the marketing team navigated different cultures, HR processes, internal communications, marketing materials, email addresses and more as part of the rebranding effort.

In part two, Rowan emphasizes the importance of keeping the "why" for a rebranding front and center, as well as how to minimize confusion and improve the employee and customer experience. She also shares why her team led a marketing technology audit, and her advice for other organizations undergoing a rebranding.

Ruth Rowan is CMO for NTT Ltd.
Ruth Rowan is CMO for NTT Ltd.

Women in Comms: You mentioned the importance of making sure that there's a consistent experience for customers. How do you go about minimizing confusion for your customers and improving the customer experience as part of this process?

Ruth Rowan: That is the number one priority for us – it's all about that client experience. It's also all about employee experience. That's really driven the why behind our integration.

We are incredibly fortunate to operate within the technology services marketplace, the fastest growing market and the largest industry in the world at the moment. By bringing together 31 companies within the NTT family to create NTT Ltd., it actually allows us to make it easier for our clients to do business with us because we can provide one contract for them, we can be more agile, we can invest more heavily in the key areas of our industry that we need to make sure we're investing in and stay ahead in areas such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, next-generation networks, etc.

At the very beginning, we were very clear on those overarching objectives of why we're doing what we're doing – making it easier to do business with us, allowing us to invest more heavily, allowing our people to be able to work in different parts of our companies more easily. It was also about fundamentally making that client experience more seamless and a consistent experience with whichever part of the NTT group that they work with.

We keep coming back to that, that why, for whatever we're talking about – whether it's a cybersecurity business or our business in India, or the investments we're making in building our network footprint globally. And that was really important for our employee value proposition as well.

WiC: What were some of the technology changes that happened as part of this process? You spoke about changing email addresses, for example. What were some changes to your digital transformation?

RR: Our digital transformation is ongoing. In addition to the ongoing development of new products and services that we deliver for our clients, we also have internal digital transformation. We are constantly building out our external portfolio of services that we deliver for our clients that help them transform. As much as possible, we have deployed our own services in our own business because it allows us to be a pilot customer since we're using that technology ourselves.

One of the very topical areas at the moment is our ability to work flexibly anywhere. We're increasingly asking our employees to work remotely, to help contain the spread of this virus. Since we brought 31 companies together, it's also about having everybody on common platforms and systems so that they can access the same information that they need to – having a common internal comms platform on Microsoft Office 365. We have a very active SharePoint capability. We use Active Directory to help us understand who everyone is, who we report to, and what our roles and responsibilities are.

In the marketing tech world, we did a marketing technology audit just to understand what systems and platforms we were inheriting as we brought our companies together. Our audit showed that we had 187 different marketing technology platforms and contracts. We certainly didn't need that level of sophistication in terms of our marketing model to warrant covering 187 different marketing technology platforms.

One of the biggest drivers that we've got to change is consolidating those down into nine core marketing technologies that will fundamentally underpin the marketing process that we are running. The only reason I say nine is I believe there should be no more than ten, and nine is a single digit rather than triple digits.

Just by doing that, it really forces us to talk about where we started, and what is the remit and role of marketing, and what's the role that we need to play in for the business today. How do we each operate given everybody's got their area of expertise to support the business? How does the collective action of all of those people come together to drive three or four key strategic roles for marketing, revenue generation, brand building, reputation, protection and building an engagement with our audiences, whether they are clients or employees?

So we look at how we operate together to achieve those goals and how the marketing technologies need to underpin that. That's how we've approached those decisions around the digitization of marketing and the technology that we need to do to enable that.

WiC: That's quite the consolidation down from 187 to nine.

RR: Yes and nine is probably not our endpoint. It's much easier to consolidate right down and then extend because it forces the tough decisions to be made.

Next page: Advice for other organizations undergoing a rebranding

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