Rebranding – A Digital First Perspective
I’m joined by Jamie Moldafsky from Nielsen. Jamie, say hello to the gang.
It’s great to be here. Greg, thank you so much for inviting me to join you.
It’s great to start building up some community and discussion around digitally enabling brands and the problems that people are having. You have been through a big transition, what you’ve worked on, and maybe even where you came from because there’s a lot going on for you.
I get the honor to be Communications and Marketing at Nielsen. Nielsen, as some of you may know, is a 100-year-old plus company first and best known as a TV rating company. That was our heritage but we will talk about much more than that. The challenge coming into the organization is that we are a 100-year-old company but in a very new and relevant role within the media industry. Being a part of our company, NielsenIQ.
As a result, we were singularly focused on the media industry, both the advertising and content ecosystems. As such, we needed to reposition the company and tell our story about who Nielsen serves and how we serve those communities. The breadth and depth of offerings that most of our market did not know about.
People think of you as TV ratings but you have so many more platforms and measurement systems that became integrated, and now there’s a story. You are splitting the company into two parts, and then they call you up and say, “Rebrand us.” Tell us a little bit about how that process went and how did it influence the way in which you thought about it digitally.
Rebranding: The challenge coming into the organization was we are a hundred year old company, but in a very new and relevant role within the media industry.
My background was I have always been a marketer and leading brands that have gone through a transition. I love working for established brands but am often in need of a turnaround, transformation or refreshing, and so when I came into the company, the problem statement, if you will, is that people don’t know who we are.
We went through a process. One was getting very comfortable with who we are and how we are perceived. Step number one was to get that outside data on how we are perceived. Do the market research for what people think of us and what they know about us. Step two was to make sure that we knew who we were. The first step we did was to create a purpose statement.
Our purpose is to better the media’s future for all people. It’s a very powerful statement but to ground ourselves on who we are so that when we then tell our story through our actions and words, we are always coming back to our DNA and what makes us different. The third piece was to make sure we were doing the work. How are we transforming? What were the capabilities?
We provide metadata for the content world through our company called Gracenote. We provide a tremendous number of impact solutions, which include ROI measurement, multitouch attribution, and media mix modeling for the advertising and agency world. We have a very robust set of offerings that people didn’t know, and they are streaming first. They are digital. No one thought of us as digital. They thought of us as linear. All of those things, we were fine with our product offerings, done our market strategy, and then we could tell about it.
Step four was the actual rebranding, which is most important to tell the story once the story is already in the market and happening. People are touching, feeling, and experiencing us differently. The last step was rebranding, which was changing our visual identity and all of our digital assets. We are overly indexed on social media and our interaction on our website. That’s where people engage with us. That was to make sure that we had an identity that was appropriate for the digital world, digital-first, and made sure the website was the first step.
I’d love what you said, “We have a purpose,” because you are explaining yourself to yourself and what you have to do before you can explain yourself to others. Being a longtime customer and user of Nielsen assets and ideas, that’s an important piece. It is also very interesting how you discuss how people use the brand, digital-first, people looking for information, so they are probably a lot of self-qualifying B2B brand folk. How did you understand that journey? You had the brand, you knew the process but that probably had to go one level deeper to start to figure out personas and need states.
It’s most important to actually tell the story, once the story is already in the market and happening.
When I came into the organization, while we did have some marketing capabilities, I wouldn’t say we were a marketing and communications-driven organization. As our CEO came in and shifted to more of a product and innovation focus, it becomes increasingly important that you have a strong and robust marketing communication set of capabilities.
We also built those capabilities out and we started with personas, and target audiences, segmenting our audiences and digging into exactly who we are talking to and what are their needs. Nielsen sits on an unprecedented amount of information and data. We sit on this treasure trove of data and bring that analytic horsepower to our clients but we sometimes haven’t always leveraged it for the market at large. What you will start to see coming out of us is much more thought leadership.
A great example is where we launched an annual marketing report globally for the first time. We’ve had tens of thousands of downloads of this report. People want information, and they want to access it digitally. Thought leaders in the marketplace have access to that information, and Nielsen was simply tying together those pieces. We had the opportunity through our brand to step up and say, “Guess what? We can provide you with some powerful data and insights to help you make better decisions.”
We’ve done way more tests and learned. We are measuring our own marketing efforts. We stood up our own marketing tech stack. We are getting much more sophisticated now about what moves we need but, not only from a brand standpoint, as well as from the lower funnel lead generation revenue generation.
It’s always a tremendous amount of tension. What’s the brand or what’s the lower part of the funnel? For me, I’m glad to hear you all are claiming the authority you had. You have all the data and have the broadest set of experiences. You got the personas, a plan, and starting to build this thing. What happened? How hard was it?
It is hard. It’s easy to put the assets out there. It’s hard to change perceptions. Again, that’s why I go back to one is making sure that everything you do is anchored in a purpose. You and I chatted briefly about this, those moments happen all the time where you can make or break your brand and reputation. Knowing who you are and what you stand for is so important.
Rebranding: It becomes increasingly important that you have a really strong and robust marketing communications set of capabilities.
How do media future for all people rest on this premise that Nielsen ultimately serves the audience and that we are the most representative data provider out there, which is that we make sure everybody in the audience gets represented, so they ultimately get a better experience? That helps our clients and end-consumer. The hardest part, to your point, has been keeping to come back to that thread.
We ground ourselves and our purpose. We make sure that as we continue to launch products, and capabilities and bring on new clients. We are rapidly expanding from serving. We serve all aspects of the industry, from publishers to content creators to advertisers and agencies for each of them, we continue to reinforce our purpose.
We bring our unique capabilities, particularly around representative measurement but we are showing up in a different way, and more important than telling them is showing them so that everything we do becomes more consultative. I’m most excited about some of the products we bring to the market. We have something called Inclusion Analytics, which is all about showing the representative or not media is now. What we found is through products like that, people are saying, “Nielsen is different than I thought. It’s not telling me what the ratings are. It’s telling me my investment reaching the right people the right way,” which is very powerful in nowadays world of inclusion.
You guys have this huge impact, maybe even responsibility, because TV is a set of currency for every other currency because people measure it relative. Now, it sounds like you are evolving into, “Now, we can tell you how effective it’s being for particular audiences.” That had to be a bit of a cultural shift for the brand to effect because you have these wonderfully talented analytics folks, but now they have to think in terms of purpose. Can you give us a little color on that?
It’s a great point because a core part of our brand transformation and our business transformation is the cultural transformation. What Nielsen has embarked on is all three of those. Clearly, the brand and the company are transforming because we are serving a streaming first-world. We have a report called The Gauge. What The Gauge tells us is how much time our consumers spend 24 hours a day versus linear. Where are they watching? What are they watching? That’s so powerful.
Certainly, during COVID, all of that changed and accelerated. Importantly, we are doing that. To your point about cultural transformation, it’s that growth mindset that is the most important thing. We need not only to adapt to the changing world but anticipate it, so think two steps ahead. We are not only where are consumers, so we can add value what’s the next thing on the horizon? Where is gaming taking us? Where are podcasts going? A great example is we measure podcasts.
More important than telling them is showing them.
We measure everywhere the consumer is because we are bringing this together through something called Nielsen ONE, which is the transformation of our measurement platform, which says, “Where did Greg spend his time and what was most effective in reaching him, and on what device?” It’s where you spend your time? How are you spending time on what? What actions did you take as a result of that? That’s the Holy Grail for marketers.
Now, marketers say, “My walled gardens and network partners tell me this is what’s working. Everyone is giving me their own version of the truth,” which are not inaccurate, but now, with Nielsen ONE, we can give them a cross-platform view of what the consumer is doing, and all of us want a holistic objective, unbiased view of the world because it’s increasingly much more bifurcated.
People are getting much more forced into looking at only one piece of it. Our goal has to look holistically but to your point, that’s challenging for a data science team who’s used to looking at a piece. They also needed to transform and say, “Our expertise now is in duplication, not a measurement of a particular channel.”
My second to the last question. What haven’t I asked you about this transformation that you think would be beneficial for our audience to read?
You didn’t ask it but I know you know it, and it was a little bit of the culture question, which is, maybe it’s more what are the pitfalls of rebranding or a brand transformation. It’s back to this point that it has to be internal. It has to start with the company itself. Sometimes people think that a new logo, new brand campaign or going out and supporting different social causes. There are a lot of social issues, and positioning and purpose are all critically important but it all has to start with the DNA of the company and knowing who you are.
Every employee has to be the brand representative or steward, and that’s where brands can go wrong. What happens is, at some point, an experience contradicts your brand statements. To me, it was most critical. It was an inside-out transformation versus an outside-in. The key was that the partner sees us as being different versus hear us only as being different.
Rebranding: It’s easy to put the assets out there. It’s hard to really change perceptions.
That’s a great point, and it’s probably never done that part of it.
It’s a hard thing to do. You want to wait. It’s this challenge of, “It’s easier to go out and do the nice window dressing,” but I was so happy because when I joined Nielsen, the hardest work about our DNA and our product offerings, that work had already been done. I got that as opposed to being ahead of what we were doing.
You had things you could deliver against it as well. It’s always better when the assets line up with the promise. Last question, Jamie, you get to use one word. What word would you pick to represent how you feel or think about digitally enabling brands? What’s the word and why?
Powerful because it is a digital world that we live in now. When you think about the lasting impacts of COVID and whether is retail still playing the role it does and helping people see your brand and experience your brand, there’s limitless potential in the digital world for brand exposure. There are so many out there but it is important that the brand is experienced the way the consumer is interacting, which is digital.
Being a digital-enabled brand, it’s important for the experience, the storytelling, the narrative, and everything we do. The big shift I saw even a few years ago, people started with the TV ad or the radio ad, and people start with the idea that if you can’t tell somebody something in six seconds, maybe you are not telling them the right thing. The thinking has changed but for a brand, that’s critical, exciting, and powerful.
Jamie, thanks for being here. We are thankful you had the time to be here. Folks in the audience, thanks for reading. We will see you next time on Digitally Enabled.
About Jamie Moldafsky
Jamie Moldafsky is Nielsen’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer.
She joined Nielsen in November 2020 and is responsible for all of Nielsen’s product and brand marketing and communications. Jamie will remain with the Media business after the completion of the separation of the Nielsen Media and Connect businesses.
Jamie is a seasoned marketing and communications professional with invaluable expertise, which she has gained over 30 years across a range of industries.
Before Nielsen, Jamie was the CMO at Wells Fargo. In addition to that role, she was also an internal thought leader for and sponsor of diversity and inclusion and the WF Foundation.