Renewing the Viking brand to transform an industry
The world of work has changed dramatically over the last few years and the office is at the heart of this change. Helped by the internet, people work wherever they can and need to, be it in an office, on the road or at home and this has a big impact on SMBs. Office supplies have a role to play in office work and how they are equipped, but suppliers have not kept pace with these changes.
With declining sales in Europe not helped by recession, the office supplies market faced real challenges. To get their voice heard, suppliers simply shouted louder. Rampant discounting and gift practices, combined with uninspiring and complicated catalogues, had ensured that the market had become commoditized. In this context it is a bold and ambitious business that decides to shake things up and change the norm. Yet there had been little attempt to create a service to help customers get the most out of their working day or help enhance their working environment.
This was the challenge that faced the Office Depot business in Europe where the brand was unable to stand out from the competition. Primarily servicing the SMB market, Viking needed repositioning and reviving, in an effort to create an experience that focused less on the commodity products, but more on office life, performance and situations faced by customers and the choices they make.
Lippincott began the journey by taking a sounding of the market, including customer and staff opinions, in an effort to provide solid foundations for the future Viking direction. There was no differentiation in the market and no brand was attempting to truly look at things with customers’ eyes. Just continuing to push commodity products at people clearly wasn’t going to work.
The new Viking brand was built with having an impact on the office in mind. The office is where people work, it’s where their tools are, it reflects what people do and how they do it, it’s the heart of a business. This is how the ‘office pulse’ came to life, a clear idea that Viking is there to help people get the most out of their offices and the time they spend there, ultimately helping the business.
The challenge of translating this new strategy and way of thinking about ‘people’, rather than products, was reinforced through an evaluation and overhaul of the customer experience, so that the experience matched the promise. Finding ways to add value through better navigation, more guidance and advice, along with a clearer shopping experience was key. The creation of a new identity and visual system started this process and represents the visual expression of a more personal approach to customers and their issues. The spirit of the design system is captured by the use of ‘doodles’, an activity people associate with office life.
The doodles appear across the customer experience, on packaging and marketing materials, with a particular emphasis on the catalogue and on-line experience. Here the customer is highlighted, using products in everyday situations and communications solutions rather than lists of products. Like magazines, the catalogues carry content such as ‘all you need guides’ and advice on buying big ticket items like copiers, shredders and furniture. This moves the Viking experience away from thinking about products and into the office world by providing advice and solutions, truly bringing the promise of the renewed brand to life beyond the visual application.
The philosophy behind ‘office pulse’ has also been pushed through other key customer channels, with special training for the call centers and telephone account managers, as well as the network of dedicated Viking field reps, helping customers to get the most out of their office supplies.
The new identity launched in May 2011, with a mailing of over 30 million new catalogues for customers in the UK & Ireland, shortly followed by Germany and other key European markets. It also featured a nationwide TV campaign, a first for the business.
The strategic direction and redesign of the experience are expected to make it easier for customers to shop and work, saving them precious time. It will ultimately also make Viking more effective at selling.
“For a long while we have not been looking at things from a truly customer point-of-view,” said Mike Elbers, VP Marketing and Merchandising. “What Lippincott have helped us to do is re-focus us as a business, using the Viking brand and identity a focal point for improving the customer experience.”
“Office Depot work in a tough and complex market yet saw an opportunity if they could only find a way to change the game,” said Lee Coomber, Creative Director for Lippincott in Europe. “For many work is a home from home yet is not served in the same way, we wanted to change that.”