“It’s a girl!”
“Would you like fries (chips?) with that?”
These are all sentences that have materially changed my life. They are also responsible for giving me my wife, my daughter, and my waistline.
“You realize smart has a different connotation in the UK than it does in the US, right?”
Maybe not as important personally, but definitely impactful professionally. The question was posed to me this morning by an individual in our UK office. And in a moment, my perspective on our brand story evolved.
As a Marketer, I’ve read horror story after horror story about the globalization of brands without concern for the localization of that message. “Finger-lickin’ good” works in the US, but when it translates to “Eat your fingers off”, well, you have a messaging problem (sorry Col. Sanders.)
About a year ago, we rethought our brand in an effort to solve a number of problems we were facing internally and externally:
1. A product that had very practical applications on the front lines
2. A technology that in some ways, was 18-24 months ahead of market readiness
3. A CEO with a vision that is 3-4 years ahead of the market on any given day
4. An industry that is overwhelmed with inauthentic and unclear language
We arrived at “A smarter way to buy and sell ads in email” (as the practical, short-term, front line message) and “A smarter way to market and advertise in email” (as the longer-term, more forward looking message allowing flexibility as vision becomes reality.) Before LiveIntent, advertising and marketing in email was not very smart. Marketing and advertising in email was closer to direct mail than it was to anything happening in the digital world. It wasn’t real time. It wasn’t programmatic. It wasn’t scalable. And it was very wasteful. It also still worked, so there was little reason to innovate for marketers and advertisers in the inbox. That’s the opportunity LiveIntent saw in the marketplace. And to be successful, we had to make email a more modern platform driven by data and powered by technological advances.
We had to make marketing and advertising in the inbox, smarter.
I am really proud of where the team got us as well as our process for getting here. It’s simple, clear, and authentic. It resonates with our clients and prospects. And it prompts a discussion, as the natural response to hearing “Simply put, we’re a smarter way to buy and sell ads in email” is “What do you mean by ’smarter’?”
When we leaned in on the word smarter, we debated heavily. We did not want to be “smart” because the assumption by saying we are smart, is that others were not. We did not want to say “smartest” because we don’t believe in grandiose, unquantifiable statements at extremes. We also didn’t want to say “better”, because why cast aspersions. We settled on “smarter” as a casual and defensible statement, indicating progress over status quo, but in no way perfection. If you’re perfect, you’re also finished. And we have a hell of a lot of work to do every single day.
Smart for us was about making our clients feel good about working with us. Conjugating it to smarter was about making our clients feel like they were making progress. And all of it was about making sure what we do remained clear and accessible to anyone who cared to listen. For all its merit, “smarter” is not the right way to describe LiveIntent in the UK just yet. We have to take a step back and think about the market and the unique nature of the UK market. A more understated approach at the outset is apropos.
At this point in the UK market, “smart” for what LiveIntent stands for connotes the opposite of our brand spirit. Instead of coming across as a partner you can feel good to work with because we move you forward, we come across as a little arrogant, even sarcastic, and—well, not somebody you’d especially want to work with. Having our team in the UK selling against the idea of “smarter” was pure bollocks. We had thrown a spanner in the works. In the UK as it stands today, the real value proposition is what made us so successful in the US when we first brought our technology to market here: ease and simplicity.
We live and we learn. We test and we iterate. So in the UK, that means taking a half-step back before introducing why we’re “smarter.”
Going forward, in the UK, LiveIntent will start as “an easier way to buy and sell ads in email.” Because arrogance isn’t what we were going for. It’s what we were trying to avoid.
Avoidance is something I should also try with all those extra chips, but let’s solve one thing at a time.