The last 10 years have seen huge gains in office productivity. But, office supply businesses have struggled to keep pace with adoption to new technologies and work styles — especially among their small and midsize business customers. Sales declines, discounting dependency and uninspired catalogs have taken their toll. The result has been a thoroughly commoditized office supply marketplace.
Against this backdrop, Viking, the Office Depot European office supply brand, brought in the Lippincott team to develop ideas to revive and differentiate its business.
Creating a new story
Early on, Lippincott uncovered a truth in the office supply business: Lost in the widespread commoditization were the basic customer needs, with little recognition of the importance the physical office can play as an inspiring, unifying environment.
But a first step in differentiating the brand was as fundamental: the need to simplify and consolidate the Viking name across countries and markets. This cleared the path to envisioning experiences that shifted focus from commodity products to an emotional territory. Specifically, office life, performance, and the situations and choices customers have to make.
We helped Viking tell a different story. One about the office, the place where people work, the heart and soul of what people do and how they do it. It’s a story that inspired a new positioning — office pulse. It communicates a clear idea that Viking is there to help people get the most out of their offices and the time they spend there.
Innovating and designing for success
Viking’s new story and way of thinking about people rather than products necessitated a critical overhaul of the customer experience. The Lippincott innovation team identified, sized and mapped ways to add value through better end-to-end navigation, more advice and guidance, and an easier, more seamless shopping experience.
The catalogs, like popular magazines, now feature relevant content such as all-you-need guides and advice on buying big-ticket items like copiers, shredders and furniture. The same approach extends to 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 get the most out of their office supplies.
We also guided a new visual identity based on a simple and human symbol of office life — doodles. People doodle at work, not really anywhere else. Hence doodles appear across the Viking customer experience, on packaging and marketing materials, with an emphasis on the catalog and online experience. Here the customer is highlighted, using products in everyday situations and communications solutions rather than lists of products.
The new identity launched with the business’s first ever nationwide TV campaign. As Mike Elbers, Vice President of Marketing and Merchandising at Viking explained, the Lippincott innovation team helped them to “finally look at things from a true customer point of view.” And in doing so, we were able to refocus the business using the Viking brand and identity as a North Star for improving the customer experience.
“Viking operates in a tough and complex market yet saw an opportunity if they could only find a way to change the game. For many, work is a home away from home, yet it hasn’t been served in the same way. We set out to change that.”
— Lee Coomber, Creative Director, Europe