The Double-Edged Sword of Brand Ubiquity: Reinventing a Century-Old Giant - Social Media Explorer
The Double-Edged Sword of Brand Ubiquity: Reinventing a Century-Old Giant
The Double-Edged Sword of Brand Ubiquity: Reinventing a Century-Old Giant

Imagine your company has been around for more than a century. Next, imagine that your brand’s name has become interchangeable with the very service it offers. Now your brand is recognized in every household across North America, and in every office someone is asking, “can you Xerox this?”.

At first glance, it’s a marketer’s dream: brand awareness is at its peak and your product is selling like hot cakes. But there’s a dark side to achieving that coveted status of having your brand’s name become a verb.

112 years ago, The Haloid Photographic Company began manufacturing photographic paper and equipment. After doing steady business for a few decades, the company took a risk and signed an agreement to commercially develop an experimental photocopier. In 1959, the company released the Xerox 914, the first successful commercial, paper copier. After a little over a year, that humble copier had amassed nearly $60 Million in revenue. Adjust for inflation and that translates to roughly $500 Million today.

Since Xerox’s initial success, however, they’ve been entrenched in that one brand image, and growth has slowed. As technology continues to advance, Xerox has been unable to shake it’s image as just the photocopier. Brand perceptions of Xerox were cemented, and refusing to budge.

Enter Toni Clayton-Hine, who was tapped for CMO in December, 2016. Toni was tasked with reinvigorating Xerox’s marketing efforts, so she got to work on her flagship campaign: “Set the Page Free”. Xerox had to take a risk, so Toni got to work forming partnerships and collaborating with 14 world-famous authors to create a collection of essays on the modern workplace.

The campaign helped Xerox reintroduce itself to the public. Through a massive, multi-channel approach, Xerox got people reading the essays, exploring the website, watching how the campaign came together, and rethinking the brand. Xerox pointed to it’s brand goal of bridging the physical and digital worlds to solve problems in the modern workplace.

Toni joined Drew Neisser on an episode of his podcast to share tips on successful marketing, storytelling, thinking outside the box, and updating your brand image. Listen to the full interview here, and check out some highlights below.

Drew: Can you talk a bit about the storytelling in the campaign?

Toni: I’m a big believer in storytelling and the fact that we have to always show the outcome, not the input. Everyone’s very familiar with Xerox in terms of what it does. But I want to focus the story on what the outcome will be once you have had that experience. And I don’t think that’s unique to Xerox, I think that’s something everybody has to do.

Drew: Do you have a major “do” and a major “don’t” for marketing?

Toni: One “do” would be: Take the big idea, and socialize it around your company. Take time to discuss the broad implications with the CEO. What does it do for sales? How do the products get shown? How does H.R. benefit from it? For me, that really helped sell something that was a bit intangible for them. My “don’t” would be: Don’t lock everything down. Don’t try to control so much of the process that it’s not true, and that it doesn’t look authentic.

Additionally, Toni and Drew Neisser will be speaking at the 2018 Social Shake Up in Atlanta, the premier conference for digital marketing, PR, and communications professionals. You can register for the conference here, and even get a discount with the code “NEISSER”.

About the Author

Sam Beck
Sam is a graduate intern with Renegade LLC, and holds a BA in Literary Theory and Creative Writing from Wesleyan University. Other than all things digital marketing, Sam hopes to someday be a published novelist or right wing for the New York Rangers. Whichever comes first.

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