Why Konica Minolta's Australian CMO isn't worried about a global brand agenda

Printing and ICT solutions company's marketing and innovation leader shares the transformation journey the business has been on and the global digital marketing and brand initiatives supporting it

Konica Minolta has formed a global digital experience marketing council and launched its first-ever worldwide branding campaign as part of large-scale efforts to transform the business from print and camera provider to innovative ICT solutions player.

Speaking to CMO during the recent CeBIT event in Sydney, chief marketing and innovation officer, Shane Blandford, explained the business is in the midst of a multi-year effort, known as ‘Shinka’, to pivot and transform its products and services set in order to build more value-based relationships with customers and generate new revenue streams.

The shift focuses on three pieces: Innovating the core business (print); finding sources of growth by leveraging off the core; and identifying new innovations. The latter category has seen Konica Minolta investing in physical robotics such as autonomous vehicles operating in manufacturing processes and logistics, along with software-based robotic process automation. The company is also making strides into the wearables space, taking advantage of its heritage in lens production to create connected lenses for industrial design, remote service and more.

It’s a program that has seen Konica Minolta seek out acquisitions globally, as well as new partnerships not only with tech innovators, but also customers. To help, the company has implemented five innovation centres globally with a remit is to seek partners, startups and incubators, and come up with new ideas around services, emerging technology and solutions.

Four years down the track, Blandford said the group is starting to see a flow-on of products and services. His job as marketing and innovation officer is to now choose what to prioritise in this market. It’s a challenge he admits is significant.

“Firstly, all the products and services aren’t like traditional products for us, where Konica Minolta has done all the certification, documentation – in some instances, we’re importing, doing some sales enablement and selling them,” the B2B marketing leader said.  

Then there’s the new way of going to market with customers. For example, with the new wearable lenses, Konica Minolta has engaged in extensive go-to-market testing and partnering with customers to build use cases.

“We’re also asking customers what services they would expect to come with those from a supplier,” Blandford explained. “We’re talking to a large education institution, for instance, that wants to digitise its learning. The questions for us include: Do they want us to help digitise documents? Or to help write content that will be shown in video format or augmented reality in the glasses?

“We need to pivot and learn more about what services we could potentially provide. Yes, we could just sell the lenses and walk away. But the opportunity for us is to become a service provider and more intrinsic partner to those customers, thereby enhancing the customer experience and delivering a total solution.”  

To support these efforts, Konica Minolta has for the first time formed a digital experience marketing team globally. This virtual global group is working collaboratively to understand how to go to market with new products and what experiences customers want. Up until earlier this year, when it was formally announced, operating companies such as Australia, Japan and the US had their own marketing teams and ways of doing things.

“We shared brochures and a bit of content but we basically do everything in our own countries,” Blandford said. “That’s inefficient in these days from a marketing perspective. So the whole organisation is moving to have a more global focus.”  

Global rebrand

It’s an ambition that’s also seen Konica Minolta debut its first global branding, under the moniker ‘Rethink’. The local team took the opportunity to officially launch it in Australia during the CeBIT IT exhibition in Sydney in November.

A full global brand campaign was developed, with all guidelines. Because Australian employees were part of its development, Blandford said his team feels a lot of ownership. Three elements make up the branding and framework: One is the word and font, another is the colour palette, and the third is a concentric frame now being employed in documentation.

“In using that frame creatively, we’re able to look at things differently. It’s interesting how we’ve interpreted that locally and globally,” Blandford commented. “There’s also excitement about what we can do with the brand, stretching it.”

While many marketers in Australia would be justifiably concerned about any brand globalisation effort and their ability to influence and make strategic decisions, Blandford said the opportunities for his local team to engage with global counterparts have been high. A number of Australian staff are engaged in the digital experience marketing team, providing input, with four team members engaged in active projects right now.

“This also doesn’t eliminate the fact the Australian market is clearly different to the Polish market for instance – people will buy differently than in Singapore, China and so on,” Blandford said. “You still have local market impact, idiosyncrasies and buyers’ journeys to account for. But this approach has given us an interesting input into the global marketing approach.

“Our staff are meeting colleagues on a global basis and learning lots of different things.”

Blandford pointed to gaps in the group’s modern marketing skillsets globally and locally. As a result, Konica Minolta is seeking to take expertise in one country to influence other areas.

This has seen the Digital Experience team divvy up initiatives it wants to achieve into five working groups.

“We’re leading one of those in Australia as we’re seen as being advanced and a thought leader in those areas,” Blandford said.   

“So when we launched the new look and feel of our website with the new branding, it was developed by the Australian team in conjunction with global colleagues. We have been driving that change, which has been fantastic.”

Such collaborative effort is extending into what Konica Minolta tries to do from a technology point of view. “We understand the martech stack used throughout the world. We’re not saying everyone has to use the same CMS, or e-marketing engine, but we’re trying to understand how to use those tools in a more global, coordinated way,” Blandford said.  

“One of the things we’re learning, particularly where digital marketing, is the skills level required to extract the max out of even how the CMS works, combining that with e-marketing, driving traffic back to the website is significantly. Our Australian team is respected globally for our digital marketing knowledge.”

Meanwhile, Blandford’s strategic ambition is to get people seeing Konica Minolta differently. In Australia, the new branding has already been introduced in media campaigns, through PR and digital email templates and via events such as CeBIT. Blandford said it’ll take a year to translate through its entire enterprise and SMB campaign, sales and printed material collateral.

“The big communications challenge is to get a market who knows us for one thing, to think about us for something else. That’s the whole focus of the brand campaign and will be the biggest challenge,” he added.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.  

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