Keeping it simple.
Fredrik Jansson looks at how choosing to focus all our marketing on sustainability was a brave decision.
Just over four years ago we started to think about the DigiPlex brand in a new way. This year, amid all of the chaos and uncertainty we’ve seen as a result of the pandemic, that new thinking has been recognised and rewarded as we have won 15 awards for our marketing transformation. As we close 2020, I wanted to reflect on the journey we’ve taken with the DigiPlex brand over the last few years.
It is important to recognise that we started with a strong brand in the first place. After more than 15 years in the market, by 2016 the DigiPlex logo was established, recognised and respected across the industry. Unlike a start-up the marketing team did not have a blank sheet of paper to work with. But we faced some of a start-up’s challenges. Data centers were (and remain) largely invisible. Outside of a few techies most people are still unaware of what they are and what they do. We needed not only to differentiate ourselves but educate buyers and the wider public about why what we do matters.
Choosing to focus all our marketing on sustainability was a brave decision. At a time when our competitors, along with most of the technology sector were focused on features and benefits of one technology over another, to talk about sustainability was a real departure. At the time it was not even an issue for our customers – our research in 2016 put it 27th on the list of data center purchase decisions. But we believed that sustainability must become one of the key considerations. And we were willing to invest our time, resources and intelligence to ensure that it became so.
We set about using data to prove this point but found very little. So, we did the work, conducting research, interviewing customers and surveying their customers to create the data sets that would underpin not only our arguments, but the wider industry’s understanding of the vital importance of sustainability for data centers. Now, four years later, the body of evidence continues to grow. Not only have we published three sustainability reports, three Nordic Data Center Trends reports and two consumer research projects, but we have been invited to present at numerous events, author articles and participate in debates on this issue. We’ve not only made DigiPlex synonymous with sustainability across the industry, but we’ve helped ensure that everyone is now talking about it.
Finding and sharing the data was just one step in building a brand around sustainability. We also needed to be able to tell stories that make what we do relevant and compelling. I always set myself and the team the task of explaining our messages not just so that a CEO could understand, but so that even my grandfather could grasp its importance. For me, the best stories are personal, for example about my seven year old daughter streaming her favourite cartoon on a tablet. That activity kicks of a process that starts in a data center. A data center using 100% sustainable energy can provide this service without contributing to global warming or harming my child’s future. The best data centers will also capture the heat produced, as the computers host that cartoon, and re-use it to heat people’s homes, improving my daughter’s comfort today. This simple, human story is far more effective in communicating why we do what we do than any number of technical specifications.
To create the groundswell of understanding and support we wanted, we needed more than data and stories. We needed to engage our employees, customers and the wider ecosystem to get them to act. Transparent communication is fundamental to the way DigiPlex operates, internally and with customers and stakeholders. Sharing our progress and providing data and insights that customers can use with their customers has been central to the value that our marketing and communications has delivered. Not only do customers use our sustainability reports, data and credentials to support their own environmental reporting, but our data is frequently referenced across the ecosystem, helping to build engagement and action around this vital issue.
Looking back over the past four years the transformation becomes profound. Not only have we differentiated DigiPlex from the rest of the data center industry, but have created a brand that stands out, and really speaks to its core purpose. The whole marketing and communications team, and indeed the whole company, has delivered outstanding results by applying these brand attributes, stories and themes through established and innovative channels. The stats speak for themselves: brand awareness among CxOs – up 12% to 56%; 451% increase in media reach delivering 551 million opportunities to see our stories in the press; 16.7million social media views by the end of 2019.
Four years ago, we decided not only to reinforce and reposition an already strong brand around the core issue of sustainability, but to set ourselves the objective of doing award-winning work in pursuit of this goal. I am super-proud of my team in taking on this challenge and succeeding to such a degree. Though their hard work, enthusiasm, creativity, expertise and sheer brilliance we’ve won not one or two awards for our brand, but 15 in one year! This is a huge achievement, and one that I have never seen from any marketing team in our sector.
But these are not awards for the marketing team alone. We are merely the storytellers. This is recognition and praise for the entire company – and for the brand. It is an acknowledgement that the work we are doing together as a team is not just important to us, but admired and applauded by our industry peers, customers, competitors and giants of the digital world. It is the truest representation of the accomplishment of our brand evolution and I feel extremely proud and gratified with the result. Great work and here’s to more success in 2021!
Article written by Chief Strategy, Marketing & Communications Officer – Fredrik Jansson