“I would advise any business undergoing a rebranding to embrace clear, transparent communication with all stakeholders, but to spend extra time on employee engagement – a passionate employee base can only help your business grow,” says Rebecca Biestman, CMO, Reputation, in an exclusive interview with TalkCMO.
TCMO Bureau: What made you confident about rebranding the company during a time when the economic recession was high?
Rebecca Biestman: Customers interact with brands online now more than ever, and their expectations for gold-standard engagement are only increasing. Since the advent of social media, brands’ reputations have been increasingly influenced by response time to digital feedback and the accuracy of their business information across every channel. In fact, brand reputations have been created or destroyed based on how well this was executed. Now, as both businesses and consumers navigate a digital-first world, experience management technology is critical.
The pandemic introduced a new wrinkle: brands’ ability to communicate and align with cleanliness and health procedures (like mask-wearing). Now — and for the foreseeable future — Customer Experience isn’t just about whether a brand responded to a review; it is linked to personal safety. Indeed, shaping and influencing the customer experience is a priority for brands now more than ever. That’s why we felt this particular time would work for a rebrand.
From the start, the company’s fundamental message and positioning needed to change to reflect Reputation’s dramatic evolution into comprehensive feedback to action platform for the world’s leading businesses. With this rebrand, Reputation illustrates its growth and commitment to meeting the moment with innovation, while also reminding customers of its dedication to helping them create consistently excellent customer experiences.
TCMO Bureau: In terms of employee demands and brand expectations, what challenges did you face? How did you overcome them?
Rebecca Biestman: The biggest challenge we faced – and one that most companies typically face when rebranding – is getting everyone within the organization to understand the ‘why’ behind the change. Employees are your business’ best brand ambassadors – if they don’t have a clear understanding of this, your external stakeholders might not either. We spent extra time with employees, ensuring that they understood Reputation’s ‘why.’ I would advise any business undergoing a rebrand to embrace clear, transparent communication with all stakeholders, but to spend extra time on employee engagement – a passionate employee base can only help your business grow.
TCMO Bureau: Did you try to implement a new strategy to match with changing market dynamics? If yes, tell us about it? How did it increase your CX statistics?
Rebecca Biestman: The power dynamics between consumers and the brands that serve them continue to shift. Customers expect a real-time, two-way conversation to provide feedback, get answers to their questions, and engage with brands that they buy from. Our rebrand explicitly reflected these trends in the market. Across our owned channels, from web to social we saw higher engagement, acquisition and retention rates once our rebrand was implemented.
TCMO Bureau: What is your advice to companies that are still facing the brunt of the pandemic-led chaos?
Rebecca Biestman: When chaos abounds around you, focus becomes more important than ever. Work to define your strategy, set clear goals and measurable KPIs, and provide straightforward tactical guidance to your teams. When your organization is aligned and all marching towards shared goals, there is a far lower likelihood of interference from external forces.
TCMO Bureau: As a CMO yourself, what characteristics and qualities do you expect an ideal CMO to have?
Rebecca Biestman: The best CMOs have a very broad skillset and serve as strategists for the rest of the organization. Further, they also have a great balance of creative and analytical skills. Marketing has become a quantitative function, where data analysis and tactical decision-making are just as important as creative thinking and ideation. Marketing specifically is a very cross-functional role, which requires deep relationship-building with a product, field teams, and G&A functions like finance and HR. As a result, the ability to influence without direct authority is a very important skill to cultivate. All great leaders, inclusive of CMOs, are excellent people managers and inspiring team leaders. This requires not just managing from high above the organization, but a deep understanding of the business that you are running, and how every team member fits into your business strategy.
Rebecca Biestman leads Reputation global marketing organization. She joined the company directly from Dialpad, the only cloud-native business communications SaaS platform. Before Dialpad, she held various marketing leadership positions for RMS, the risk modelling software company, servicing the world’s largest insurers and financial institutions. While at RMS, Rebecca also launched the company’s inaugural Social Impact program. Before moving to technology, Rebecca specialized in B2C marketing for CPG and retail, working for both Earth Essentials and Gap, Inc (Gap Digital).
Rebecca received both her undergraduate degree in Political Science from UC Berkeley, and her MBA in Marketing and Corporate Social Responsibility from UC Berkeley’s Walter A. HaaS School of Business.