“Don’t judge a book by its cover" is an English saying that means one shouldn't prejudge something by its outward appearance alone.
Some of the greatest stories in modern times have been blighted by a bad first edition book cover; The Great Gatsby, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, The Catcher in the Rye plus many more.
Once readers got past the cover (or the publishers realized the cover had to change) sales took off and these books became the all-time classics that we still know and love today.
When I was approached about the CMO opportunity at Software AG, the first thing I did was to go onto the website. I knew Software AG was undergoing a five-year transformation to become a growth company, which was part of the attraction of the role, but it was unclear to me what the company did. On first glance, it did lots of things.
After a bit of digging, buried deep in the website was information on award-winning, market leading solutions; 70% of the Fortune 1000 trust Software AG. The interviews I had showed me a company with a deeply caring culture. I was impressed but knew that if I was offered the job, I would need to focus brand and online presence. The book cover was not really selling the “story.”
I started with data. Having read Economics at university I am naturally data-driven. We commissioned an independent brand audit to help understand where we needed to focus. The audit produced qualitative and quantitative data from hundreds of interviews with our customers, analysts and key stakeholders. You have to take care when “tinkering” with a 50-year-old brand but the mission was clear. We needed to create a true representation of the powerful combination of innovation and heritage that defines us.
Designing a new “cover”
The website had to change. The technology was not able to scale up to our growth ambitions. It also harmed us from a brand reputation perspective. I was concerned that we were not providing our customers and prospects with the experience they deserved. The mobile experience was poor, there was so much content that we were a “Wikipedia.” For me, there was only one choice for a new web CMS and that was Adobe. Adobe would help me bring a greater focus on data-driven, digital-first lead generation engine and a best-in-class digital experience.
A new website combined with the brand refresh would be the most visible milestone on our transformation. This would be a cause for celebration for our employees. On May 15th 2020, we launched Phase One of our new international English site with big and bold changes. Judging by the feedback from our customers and key stakeholders we are off to a good start. Phase Two will aim to bring more disparate sites under one domain and focus on improved customer experience as we add more content.
I learned a great deal about myself and about my team from working on the branding and new website First, everyone should be maniacally focused on improving customer experience. And I really do mean everyone; every function including the back office. Customer success with our products is key but so is the brand experience. Think with an ”outside-in” approach every time and use data to help identify the scale of the issue - and business impact from ignoring the problem.
Approaching the task this way will help you gain greater internal stakeholder commitment for necessary changes. And what did I learn about my team? My team amazed me with their dedication and passion to get this right to improve buyer journeys. I think they surprised themselves too. In the time I have worked with them on two high profile projects, I have seen them all grow and develop new skills. I couldn’t be more proud.
Welcome to our new “book cover.” Welcome to the new Software AG. We want you to be part of your story, so I hope you like what you read.