January 5, 2024

Staying True to Your B2B Brand Values

Beyond the numbers and strategies, beyond the boardrooms and presentations, lies a question that’s more vital than ever before: How do CMOs ensure that brand values aren’t just words on a wall?  

Cue CMOs Marshall Poindexter of OpenEye, Cadence Molecular Sciences, Joe Cohen of AXIS, and Matt Preschern of NTT Ltd, who are ensuring that brand values shine as the guiding stars in every strategic and day-to-day decision at your business. 

In this episode, they share how to bring your brand values to life for employees, customers, and prospects. Tune in to learn what it means to define your values, how to weave them into overall business strategy, and how to measure them to make sure they’re still going strong. Don’t miss it!  

What You’ll Learn 

  • Why having brand values matters to the bottom line 
  • Who should own brand values  
  • How to measure brand values

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 378 on YouTube

Resources Mentioned 


  • [4:05] Marshall Poindexter: OpenEye’s brand values
  • [9:35] In successful acquisitions, brand values are the glue!
  • [10:45] OpenEye values in the real world
  • [14:14] Joe Cohen: AXIS’s brand values
  • [20:04] Bringing AXIS values to life
  • [25:26] Matt Preschern: NTT Ltd.’s brand values
  • [26:47] NTT’s sustainability initiatives & work policy
  • [34:31] On CMO Huddles
  • [38:39] Which function(s) should own brand values?
  • [43:07] When a brand doesn’t have values…
  • [45:15] Measuring brand values
  • [49:18] Final words of wisdom: Stay true to your brand values 

Highlighted Quotes  

“Do not under resource brand marketing and research, especially if you’re in a very dynamic market where you need to adjust and adapt.” -Marshall Poindexter, CMO of OpenEye, Cadence Molecular Sciences

“Adherence to values is more likely to be successful if multiple functions have a stake in them, are invested in them and are willing to champion the values that you put forward.” -Joe Cohen, CMO & CCO of Axis

“It’s your own employees, your people, who are the biggest brand ambassadors. And how you show up, whether it’s in a client setting, with a business partner, or internally, actually determines who you are as a company.” -Matt Preschern, CMO of NTT Ltd.

Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Matt Preschern, Marshall Poindexter & Joe Cohen

Drew Neisser: Hey, it’s Drew. I’m excited that you’re here to listen to another episode of Renegade Marketers Unite. And if this is your first time listening then welcome. This show is brought to you by CMO Huddles, the only marketing community dedicated to inspiring B2B greatness. And that has a logo featuring penguins. Wait, what? Yeah, well, a group of these curious, adaptable and problem-solving birds is called the Huddle. And the B2B marketers and CMO Huddles are all that and more, huddling together to heat up the coldest job in the C suite. And now that CMO Huddles has three membership tiers, we’re ready to inspire B2B Greatness at all levels. To learn more, check out CMOhuddles.com. Now before we get to the episode, here’s a shout out to the professionals at Share Your Genius. We started working with them over a year ago to make this show even better and have been blown away by their strategic and executional prowess. If you’re thinking about starting a podcast or want to turbocharge your current show, be sure to talk to Rachel Downey at shareyourgenius.com and tell her Drew sent you. Okay, let’s get on with today’s episode.

Narrator: Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite, possibly the best weekly podcast for CMOs and everyone else looking for innovative ways to transform their brand, drive demand, and just plain cut through. Proving that B2B does not mean boring to business. Here’s your host and Chief Marketing Renegade Drew Neisser.

Drew Neisser: Hello, Renegade Marketers! Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite the top-rated podcast for B2B CMOs and other marketing-obsessed individuals. You’re about to listen to a recording of CMO Huddles Studio, our live show featuring the CMOs of CMO Huddles a community that’s sharing, caring, and daring each other to greatness every day of the week. This time we’ve got a conversation on brand values with Huddlers Matt Preschern of NTT Ltd, Marshall Poindexter of OpenEye, Cadence Molecular Sciences, and Joe Cohen of Axis. Let’s get to it.

Drew: I’m your host Drew Neisser, live from my home studio in New York City. Beyond the numbers and strategies, beyond the boardrooms and presentation lies a question that’s more vital than ever before. How do CMOs ensure that brand values aren’t just words on a wall, but are the guiding stars in every strategic and day-to-day decision at your business, B2B brands face a high stake challenge and frankly, all brands do, but how to remain steadfast to their core values while navigating the dynamic landscape of industry trends, customer demands, and technological shifts. It’s a delicate dance, a ballet, if you will, of strategy and authenticity. And that’s why we brought on three talented and nimble, maybe dancing-type CMOs, to share how they’ve maintained authenticity in a world where relationships matter more than ever before. So with that, let’s bring on Marshall Poindexter, Global Head of Marketing and Sales Operations at OpenEye, Cadence Molecular Sciences, and an industry expert who has graced our stage before to delve into the topic of cultivating customer champions and rebranding. So hello, Marshall. Wonderful to see you again.

Marshall: Good to see you, Drew.  

Drew: So, for the folks who may have missed the other episodes. Where are you?

Marshall: So I’m working out of my home in beautiful and hot today. But lucky Wisconsin.

Drew: Awesome. All right. Well, we’ve we’ve got some of the Midwest here now. Um, but let’s start with a basic question. What are OpenEye’s brand values?  

Marshall: Thanks Drew. So first, let me just explain what OpenEye, Cadence Molecular Sciences is and what we do. So we make software to help pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies model molecules as part of the early-stage drug discovery process. So if they want to create a drug that is going to attack a certain disease or condition, they need to figure out among the billions of molecules, which of those might be able to be turned into that drug. So that’s what we help them with. Our brand values really are standing for science and innovation. We’ve been around for a little over 25 years, we did some brand research in 2021, with customers and key prospects, and they validated that our brand values, our scientific excellence, being a visionary and being collaborative with our customers. So you know, we’re focused on the future, we’re hoping to pioneer this technology that’s going to enable better drug development, faster drug development. So that’s really what our brand values are.

Drew: Interesting. And as I was listening to it, first of all, the notion you guys are at really the very beginning stage of drug development. And it’s incredible to think about because there’s so much going on. But, you know, obviously values in terms of scientific is, is sort of baked in, but, you know, drugs have a way of obviously changing lives. And so you’re really part of, in an ideal world, drugs that are accessible, affordable, and save lives, right?  

Marshall: Absolutely. Yeah, we’re focused on helping our customers, you know, get those drugs to market faster, more cost-effectively, and obviously getting in the hands of the clinicians and the patients that need them.

Drew: So you mentioned that you validated these, I’m curious about that process. Was this something that was relatively new, where you sort of looked at your values and said, “Are these right?” and then you went to your customers and asked, how did that come about?  

Marshall: So we work with a brand marketing agency, who basically did interviews with our customers and some key prospects and asked them, what did they think of OpenEye? What is their perception of us? And fourtunately, the results really validated for the most part, what we thought of ourselves and reinforced that we stand for science and innovation. So that was really gratifying to hear.

Drew: So as I try to get a sense of this, because science and innovation are interesting words. And I don’t always think of them as values. I mean, they’re, you know it, but that’s what you guys do. So I guess I’m trying to figure out how do we make decisions based on that. When I think of values, I think about how they can inform decisions. And so have you found that these are useful values to you in terms from a marketing perspective?   

Marshall: Absolutely, because the pharma and biotech companies that that we want to work with or want to work with us, they are doing different types of science, they’re pursuing, you know, the creation of drugs in different disease areas or condition areas, and how they go about that, the methods they use, the approaches they use, really vary. And so they’re looking for the most cutting-edge scientific approaches and methods in order to analyze these molecules and model them. And we at OpenEye are at the cutting edge of that. So the fact that we have remained at the cutting edge and doing this, the science and innovating, has really made them want to partner with us because they want to, you know, be more successful in their endeavors with the approaches that they’re pursuing.

Drew: Got it. Okay. So you were acquired last year by Cadence Design Systems, not a company that was really in your space. I’m wondering what impact that might have had on your brand values? Or did you bring some of Cadence into your brand? How did that work out?

Marshall: So it’s a great question. And it’s been almost a year since we were acquired by Cadence Design Systems, which, you know, some of the listeners and viewers may have heard of, they’ve been around for over 30 years, creating software to enable companies to design semiconductors and chips. And what’s interesting is that actually, their brand values and OpenEye’s brand values actually were very much in sync. There’s a lot of commonality in our culture, in our brand. And so that’s one of the reasons why the acquisition was such a great fit for us. The other thing that was interesting is that much like where OpenEye is in terms of helping pharma and biotech companies bring some stability to the process of designing drugs and developing drugs, Cadence was doing that decades ago, in creating software to basically stabilize the process of designing semiconductors and chips. So, they took a very experimental approach to designing those and stabilized it with software that made it very predictable. And that’s exactly what OpenEye is now doing in the drug design and drug development space. So we’re going to be able to learn from them and how they were able to do that in the chip design process and apply it to molecular design. And so we see that there’s going to be, you know, the combined resources around chip design, distributed processing, molecular science, that’s going to help, you know, OpenEye Cadence be at the forefront of this revolution, in applying computer science and simulation to biological processes, which ultimately, is going to improve human health. So it doesn’t really change our brand values, we’re still focused on science and innovation, and hopefully, the values and the knowledge and expertise that Cadence has had will help us accelerate that.

Drew: You know, it’s funny, this isn’t a new thought, but it just knowing that so many acquisitions end up not creating value. In fact, many of them destroy value in you know, they buy companies and then they sometimes even get closed. And I wonder if you could correlate, you look at it and say, well, they’re culturally they were a good fit. And the values were a good match is the likelihood rather even more so than say, product fit? Or target audience fit? I wonder if if that values thing could actually be the glue here, that makes the difference between a successful acquisition or merger and not?  

Marshall: Absolutely it will. And you know, interestingly, Cadence really was not in the life sciences space before it acquired OpenEye. And they have a vision to to get more involved in the life sciences space. I mean, their software helps make chips for all sorts of, you know, consumer and B2B applications like chips that are in iPhones and cars and things like that. So they really do see this life sciences area a great growth area, but absolutely the commonality of our brand values and our approach to science and computer simulation and calculations, hopefully, is going to really help us to accomplish that vision and that promise.

Drew: Got it. Okay. Well, before we go with this segment, can you give a quick example or a story of how these brand values have become real externally?  

Marshall: Sure, absolutely. So the way I see it a brand equals trust and credibility. So many, many times a year our customers, our OpenEye customers, and those range from large pharmaceutical companies to start-up biotechnology firms. They choose to partner with us to develop new scientific methods in our software, and they do that because they trust that OpenEye has been and continues to be on the cutting edge of science and scientific approaches to molecular modeling. So when those customers do that, and they partner with us to develop a new scientific method that we then put in our software, they initially gain exclusive use of those methods for their own purposes, but then later, OpenEye commercializes those methods and makes them available to other prospects and customers. And that’s really how OpenEye has grown steadily and consistently for more than 25 years. It’s why we were such an attractive acquisition target for Cadence, and it’s how we’re going to continue to grow now that we’re part of Cadence Design Systems.  

Drew: Interesting, really interesting. All right, well, we’ll be back. But for now, let’s bring on Joe Cohen, who is the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Axis who has previously joined us on this show to shed light on the intricacies of taking a stand as a B2B brand. So welcome back, Joe, nice to see you.

Joe: Hey, Drew, it’s great to be back. Well, of course. 

Drew: Well, of course. So just to set the stage, where are you this fine day?

Joe: This fine day, I’m in Hoboken, New Jersey, working out of my home office. This is a facade, typically of a hybrid environment, hybrid workplace environment. So about three days a week I work out in New York or Red Bank, New Jersey. We have an office there.  

Drew: Got it. Okay. So, let’s talk a little bit about Axis and brand values. We’ve discussed your Axis corporate citizenship program on the show before but lay out Axis. And you know, for folks that don’t know, do tell us what Axis does.

Joe: Yeah, so Access is a global insurance and reinsurance company. We view ourselves and brand ourselves as a specialty insurer. So what that means is that predominantly, our business is done with businesses, not direct to consumers. It’s B2B, like most or all of the brands part of CMO Huddles. In addition to that, most of our business is transacted through intermediaries. So brokers, you know, the ones that I’m sure you’ve heard of would be Aon and Marsh and Willis, as well as wholesale brokers like Amwins, RT, and CRC. So for us, what I mean by a specialty insurer is for Axis, if you think about the nature of risk, particularly the evolving nature of risk – severe weather, cyber risk, the Clean Energy Transition, technological shifts – we’re an insurer that is big and has a global presence and is a multibillion-dollar player. But at the same time, we’re nimble enough, to use a word you used earlier Drew, we’re nimble enough to come up with tailored products and solutions to help our customers. And that description is important because it relates directly to purpose, which underpins value. And I could talk more about that if you like.  

Drew: Yeah, let me just, one note of, Renegade, during the time, the 30 years that it was an agency and provided digital services, we used Axis as our like cybersecurity, because you’ve had to have that kind of insurance. So I was familiar with the brand. But thank you for that. So let’s keep going now with the values specifically.

Joe: Yeah, sure, and thank you for your good judgment and choice of carrier. So as far as our values, what I’ll say, stepping back, something. So we introduced, I’ve been at Axis a little under seven years, just under seven years, we introduced a purpose statement for the first time ever, about six years ago and values in the months that followed. Before that we didn’t have articulated, there may have been at some point values, but they weren’t promoted. And you know, they were kind of literally as you described it, words on paper that somebody wrote at some point that no one was really paying attention to. So something that struck me when I joined the company that was unusual for an insurer and reinsurer is that, from the CEO level to different members of the executive committee, people spoke about Axis as a purpose-driven company. And there was a feeling that in addition to generating a profit, we wanted to do good and make a positive impact. And we had values even if they weren’t really spoken about in a formalized way. So the idea of introducing a formal approach to purpose that kind of underpins all of what we do, that was something that I saw the opportunity. Also, as we were going through the exercise of putting it together, I kept thinking about the book, The Smartest Guys in the Room (the Enron book), and if you read it, you’ll remember it starts, I think before the narrative begins, they show the Enron corporate values, which obviously they broke every single one, so I was thinking okay, clearly, you know, we’re not Enron, we’re an ethical company. But we want the values to mean something. And similar to what Marshall said, we went through an exercise. So we did research, we looked at best practice approaches to the creation of values and purpose statements, both within and without. And outside of our company. We got views from, you know, the customer audience, we got a lot of use internally, we did focus groups at various levels all over the company. And some of what we heard back wasn’t positive to hear. I remember there’s an executive who I really liked, if he’s listening, who said, “Purpose? Our purpose is to make money, full stop.” And then we had the conversation – yes, and that’s every company’s purpose. But what else? Why do we exist that differentiates us? So there was a lot of dialogue and spirited dialogue and conversations that went into the value of even going there. So anyway, to get to the point, what our purpose statement that we ultimately landed on. And I’ll note that it was very important that we wanted it to be grounded in substance and relate to our business and what we do. Our purpose statement is that we empower our customers to navigate and manage risk in an increasingly complex and volatile world, to give them the protection of competence to pursue their goals and ambitions. And, you know, a lot there. We put a lot of words into it. But if you think about what I said earlier about us as a specialty insurer, it ties directly to that – that there’s a need in the world for new insurance solutions, there’s a need for companies to operate with insurance and they need insurance solutions that aren’t there yet. So that’s, that’s part of the big purpose that we provide. Now, as far as the values go, the values that we crafted, we want the values to, of course, talk about how we behave, but we wanted them to be grounded in business substance. So the first one is we deliver on our promises and the idea is that we hold ourselves and our teams accountable. The second is that we never compromise our integrity. So we live our values and uphold our principles. The third is that we’re passionate. We act with urgency and expectancy while delivering customer value. So it’s not just about being passionate for the sake of it, it’s about operating quickly, being expectant that we’ll provide the right solutions, and thinking about how our passion translates to supporting our customers. And I should note, as far as relates to promises and integrity, that’s table stakes. But similar to what Marshall said, we have the mindset that our partners will work with carriers that they know, like, and trust. So there’s business substance underpinning those first two as well. The fourth is we are dynamic. So we need to find new ways to provide solutions to the market in this evolving landscape. And of course, with that comes finding new ways to generate revenue and grow the business. But it starts with delivering value to the market and our customers. And then we are one Axis. And the idea is that we are aligning our resources to work in concert and ultimately support our partners and again, support the broader market. So that’s an overview of the five values.  

Drew: Yeah, let me, let me jump in here. So again, you are in the business of insurance. And you don’t often hear the words passionate and dynamic. In fact, those are two words that would probably be on the other end of the spectrum relative to insurance, which is safe and protected and plodding, and so forth. So I do think it’s interesting that those ended up as words that help set up the values that you have. But it also, as you said, does tie back to this notion of you guys creating new products to help people manage risk. In some ways, you’re sort of speaking to the notion that you’re in the business of risk. And, you know, in order to deliver and help others manage risk, you have to take some risks, too – which is sort of the dynamic and passionate piece. I’m now imagining a bunch of you in a conference room being dynamic and passionate and arguments could flow, which is hopefully a good thing.  

Joe: Yeah, you want to have a spirited dialogue. And it’s everything from the way you go to market to…I shared some of the spirited conversations that went into crafting the values, but to the point that you made earlier, I would say to people who look at insurance as kind of a bland, stodgy business – it is dynamic. And if you just think about what’s happening in the world – I mentioned cyber risk, and I mean, sadly, war and wildfires and hurricanes and all the world is going through a period where the risk landscape is changing and the work that we do is important. It’s the safety net for the free market.  

Drew: Okay, I stand corrected. It is a dynamic, passionate industry. Those are great words and just like we said with the Enron case, I mean, the irony, I mentioned the Enron one, I love that story. Because really, what mattered in that case, in that company was, how performance was judged, and it was only judged on one thing, which was bookings. It wasn’t judged on anything else. And as a result, the culture was just “next booking, next booking, next booking” and stock price. And so the values never stood a chance. Anyway, that’s a sidebar, but talk about how these values help inform actions at the organization.  

Joe: Yeah, well, I think it starts by really talking about the values, promoting the values. It’s similar to other conversations that I know you’ve had in CMO Huddles – you can launch a product, you can launch a service, you can launch a brand, you can launch corporate citizenship and ESG initiatives. But ultimately, the real work comes in implementation. Values is no different and it’s evident sometimes with the others, but it should be evident with values. So a lot of it is continually finding ways to deliver that message. So in all of our offices, or nearly all of our offices, we have digital billboards that show our values. Among other messages. We have monthly CEO updates, where our CEO often refers to our values. We have those business cards that are a little old school, but still work, which we give to colleagues that have our values on them. But as it relates to what it looks like in practice, I’ll give a real example. Just a few weeks ago, we had one of our partnership retreats with some of our core partners from a wholesale part of our business. And our CEO, when he did his keynote at the retreat, he went through the values, spoke about the importance of having shared values between our organizations, and we spoke a little bit about what that means as it relates to the way we transact business with each other and in a way that is more relationship-driven, we spoke about the importance of getting back together and volunteering together. And that’s actually an initiative that we had launched at that same retreat years ago and since then, part of the way that we interact with our brokers is we proactively go out and volunteer with them. And it’s a way that builds relationships, creates tighter bonds, and it only helps us in working, getting closer and doing more business together.  

Drew: Thank you for that. It just reminds me that this is it’s all about inculcating on an ongoing basis and referring back to it and if the CEO doesn’t embrace it, there really isn’t a chance that this is going to work. So it’s fascinating. Okay, well with that. Let’s welcome Matt Preschern, CMO of NTT, who’s a first-time guest. Hello, Matt. How are you? And where are you? 

Matt: Thank you so much for having me. I am a little bit outside of New York today. I’m in Westchester County and excited to be here and on really interesting topics.  

Drew: Yeah, well, we’re heavily East Coast on this particular show. So tell me a little bit… First of all, I know NTT, but I know a lot of the folks in the audience may not be familiar with your very large company. So tell us a little bit about NTT first.

Matt: I’d love to! So I personally am the CMO and demand generation officer for NTT Ltd. NTT Ltd is roughly a $10 billion IT services company. We are one of the largest data center providers in the world. We have a very large global network presence, cloud strategy… And our counterpart who we’re currently integrating is NTT Data, which is in the application stack. You take those two companies together, we’ll be roughly a $20 billion company as part of an over $100 billion conglomerate led out of Japan. Right? Those of you who know me, I’ve been privileged in my career to work for other very large companies. This is my first time to work for a Japanese-owned company. And I have to say I have been here for a little over two years and have thoroughly enjoyed not only the challenges that are associated with marketing, but also the very topic that we’re discussing, which I’ll hopefully share.

Drew: Sure, I am fairly certain NTT is Nippon Telephone and Telegraph originally, probably 100 years ago, it was the AT&T of Japan, right? I mean, it was like probably the founding telephone company.

Matt: And it’s the founding one. And we’re today, in addition to still being a market leader in various segments. And we have over 20, close to $30 billion global presence, and super interesting company. And, you know, in the context of the comments of my peers earlier, as we’re bringing both NTT Ltd. and NTT DATA together, the notion of what a brand stands for, and you know, values, brands of big words, but also what you stand for, what you look like, and then how you act, I think, is exceptionally important. Because my personal belief over having done this for at the risk of aging myself for 30 years, it’s it’s your own employees, your people who are the biggest brand ambassadors, and how you show up, whether it’s in a client setting, whether it’s with a business partner, whether it is an internal settings, actually determines who you are as a company. And in today’s world, which I would think is a little bit more complicated, or continues to be super complicated. What you stand for, and who you are, I think is only being magnified. And, you know, we heard just Joe say one of the things you know, and again, I having worked for other large companies, I think there’s a lot of people who talk about this what I truly enjoy about NTT, there is an authenticity, to the belief that technology has a role to do something good for society, for the planet, for people. And that is pretty strongly embedded into the fabric of our company. And we have a set of very tangible, brand or value categories that underpin that. And we’re looking at

Drew: Let’s talk about those specifically, just so we can get a framework for those. 

Matt: Yeah, so as you’ll probably see if you go to our website, I will tell you, probably every company in some form or fashion has a sustainability agenda. So do we. And it’s one of, I’ll mention the other ones, we also believe that innovation in the context of technology, but for good, is a core element of who we are, we aspire to be a great place to work. And in order to do so, we aspire to be fully inclusive. Inclusive, diverse, and trust and relationships in our customers, and all relationships matter. But what I would say and I think I would agree with both of my colleagues beforehand, words on a piece of paper are one thing, so let me give you maybe an example of what we do in sustainability that goes way beyond just the words.

Drew: Love it. Yeah, go for it. 

Matt: As you would imagine, you know, we have publicly committed to be in adherence to all the sustainability goals that are agreed upon by some of the largest global organizations that you would adhere to, including the United Nations. So we have a very challenging, but targeted program to, for example, ensure that all of our data centers are in, accordance to that by 2030. The one that I personally liked the best and this is a little bit kind of the commitment part of a company. We have given all of our employees, basically, and I’m gonna misquote this, three or four days per year, to volunteer, and to volunteer in support of sustainability initiatives. And so I’ll give you an example of what I do as part of the marketing elite, the global marketing organization. We have a quarterly meeting, usually two, two and a half days. And we always spend at least half a day as a marketing leadership team on behalf of a worthy cause. We met in London, and we actually partnered this time with an organization that is building and supporting artificial hands primarily in support of multiple countries in Africa and in India. Very worthwhile cause and we spend about four or five hours doing so, in a previous one, we cleaned the beaches in Singapore. And another one, we planted trees in certain parts of Germany. And I think that is a very tangible way. And besides what it also does, it’s actually very interesting and nice when you meet with people who are your peers or you work with, and you do something worthwhile in support of the company. We do some of that also, with a similar to, as Joe mentioned, maybe without partners and others. And I think that goes beyond the words on a page. So that will be one of the examples. I find it super personally, for those of you who have never had to who – I’ve never really lived close to a beach, but cleaning a beach in Singapore and seeing the amount of plastic that was on that beach. And we retrieved in two and a half hours, about 15 people, we retrieved 120 kilos, over 250 pounds of plastic. 

Drew: Woah.

Matt: And, you know, anyway, so that’s like one of the examples. The other one, a great place to work, for example, right? We recognize that if you’re at early stage career or mid-career, maybe the more traditional ways of how you work, where you work is different. We’ve codified very much a hybrid workplace policy. So you are allowed up to a month per year to work anywhere in the world, no questions asked. You also, if you live within, an office, we encourage you to come to the office, two, preferably three days a week, but you’re perfectly okay to work from home for a day or two and we have formally agreed to a hybrid workplace policy, right? And we see already that that’s having a very positive impact and it’s not dictated, it doesn’t have to be Monday or Tuesday, you can pick and choose as an employee to do so. These are just a couple of examples.

Drew: Yeah, well, it’s interesting on the sustainability front, I’ve been on the board of the Urban Green Council for the last gosh, 10 years. And I know how complicated this is. It’s hard to measure what is your real footprint, you know, the carbon footprint of an organization is extremely difficult. Because you can take a data center, and you can say, well, I just got to make sure that the power is coming in there. But within that data center, there’s a ton of technology that has a life, and that has a carbon fiber. So it’s a fascinating thing it does, it’s going to take big companies like NTT to make a big difference. But I love the fact that you also bring it down to a personal level and allow individuals Yeah, it was 250 pounds of plastic. It’s something and the truth is big problems like that are gonna have to be solved in big ways and little ways. And, and so I think that’s awesome. I’m also just so jealous, 20 years ago, how I would have loved to have somebody said, “Hey, you can work and live in another country for a month.” That’s just an amazing thing that I guess we can thank the pandemic for.

Matt: What I would have enjoyed is –  and that’s the part that’s really enjoyable about NTT Ltd. and NTT DATA, is it’s not happenstance. So we deliberated probably for the better part, believe it or not, is more than three months on our work policy. And we interviewed individuals, we went to best practices, we benchmarked some would say, okay, you’re NTT and maybe I, granted maybe it was overkill to some extent. But you know what, if you as an individual stay within the tax regulations of your country, and you know, you have the flexibility to work in a different continent for a month? I think that’s a good thing.  

Drew: Yeah.

Matt: If you have worked for a long time, remotely only and now, yes, you’re you’re asked to come to the office at a certain time, but it’s perfectly okay to work at home. And it’s codified. So there is no more gray areas. It’s a global policy that we adhere to and I found that actually – learning from me, even with all the experience from other companies.

Drew: Yeah, well, I think two takeaways on that and then we’re going to talk about something else but the clarity of your position in any of these things within your policy or your work policy for office is in a sense, an expression of the values of the organization. So taking the time to think through and not making a quick decision on something that’s going to have an impact on so many people’s lives, makes a lot of sense.  

Matt: Let me just add one thing to that. You know, I think Joe said it really well beforehand. We also do at the same company not confuse that we are here to run a profitable business. The part that’s interesting, though, is that the belief that a content, happy workforce that feels they’re part of something that matters is going to help you do that, is kind of at the core, if you’re a responsible company with respect to technology for good for the planet, allowing individuals to participate, making sure that your products and services are in adherence, that should lend itself and does lend itself to a different client interaction in many instances, because people respect that, right. So I also want to make sure that we are still a profit organization and we understand that as well. But I, for one, appreciate the very clear focus that comes through on a daily basis.  

Drew: Well, and I can’t help but state that. I don’t think enough marketers think about employees first as the first target as the walking embodiment of the brand it is, in my book, it is the primary first target. If you want to build an unbeatable brand, you’ve got to bring your employees on board. All right, we’re gonna we’re going to let you go for a second. I’m going to talk about CMO Huddles, we launched CMO Huddles in 2020. It’s a close-knit community of over 200 highly effective B2B marketers. Marketing leaders who share, care, and dare each other to greatness. Given the extraordinary time constraints on CMOs these days, everything about CMO Huddles is designed to help leaders save time and empower them to make faster, better decisions. If you’re a senior B2B marketer and need a shortcut to B2B greatness, take a second to sign up for our free starter program at CMOhuddles.com. Marshall, Joe, Matt, come on back. And you guys are incredibly busy marketing leaders. So first, thank you for taking the time to be on the show today. But I’m wondering if you could share a specific example of how CMO Huddles may have helped save you time or it’s just helped you in general, and I’m gonna start with Marshall because you’ve been in the Huddles, I think the longest of the three of them, so you wouldn’t have many chances to have find some time-saving moments.  

Marshall: Yeah thanks, Drew. In the last several years that I’ve been part of CMO Huddles, I have learned from my CMO peers, countless approaches, tools, techniques that I’ve been able to put into practice every day, in my day job. And the value of that knowledge really is incalculable. I would have had to pay probably 1000s of dollars to consultants to get that kind of knowledge. But on top of that, I’ve also forged some wonderful friendships with CMO peers, and I’m so grateful to have that team in my corner.  

Drew: I love it. I love it. Thank you for that, Marshall. Joe, any thoughts that you want to share?  

Joe: Yeah, I mean, to echo Marshall, I think CMO Huddles is fantastic. I think just being able to correspond regularly with you, Drew, and the wealth of knowledge and information and insights that you are, is so valuable and I think any CMO would benefit from it. To get specific, as far as an example, something that we’ve been just working on quite a bit is looking at different ways to involve and deepen the role of marketing in the innovation process, from the earliest points through the whole cycle. And early on, I had some good calls with you, Drew, just as we were looking at that. And then just being able to work the network, you get great ideas. And I think Marshall hit the nail on the head, it saves you a lot of time and money that you might have spent otherwise in gathering those insights.  

Drew: All right, well, and Matt, you are a relatively newcomer to it. I know you are a globetrotter but I wonder if either the recaps have been able to give you some value perhaps.  

Matt: Yeah, I mean, I think there’s a couple things. One, I don’t know about my colleagues. But I think the profession that we’re in and the roles that we have are multidisciplinary, extremely dynamic. And I always tell my team, “The second you think you know, everything, you’ve lost.”. Take the call today, Marshall and Joe, thank you very much. I have learned from both of you and you have reaffirmed a few things that maybe I knew but I had forgotten. And, Drew, your personal leadership is really helpful. I don’t know about you, and it’s usually in leadership, sometimes these positions are a little lonely. And, you know, knowing that your peer group is struggling or confronting very similar issues, maybe from a slightly different vantage point, those little nuggets of insights, there’s a built-in trust that I know that my CMO colleague, they’re struggling with the same thing, and they may not have exactly the right answer. So I’m not the only one, and I can take something away from that. So to me that is of enormous value. And thank you for having me and for running this on a regular basis.  

Drew: I love it. Well, I appreciate all three of you. And it’s funny, I was talking to a CMO earlier this week. And she said exactly what you did, man. It’s like this is a lonely job. And there is nobody in the organization that I can talk to about marketing. And so I said, “Well, you know, come on over to CMO, Huddles.” If you’re a B2B CMO who can share, care, and dare with the best of them, do yourself a favor and check out CMOhuddles.com. Check out CMO Huddles. Okay, so now let’s all get back. And again, I’m sort of what I’m obsessed with. And really what my book is obsessed about is making brand values real in the organization. Because, you know, it’s always, you know, it’s the famous Richard Nixon who said, you know, “I’m not a crook,”, it’s, it’s not what you say, it’s what you do that that is ultimately going to communicate, both to employees and customers. So stepping back, we talked a little bit about how you get the brand values. And I’m curious if you all think that this is a critical thing that a CMO should drive in their organization, if they don’t have them, or even if they’re not being sort of implemented or realized to the full extent. Is this in the CMOs responsibility?

Marshall: Absolutely, Drew. I believe the CMO should lead the development, the enforcement, the realization, of a company’s brand values, you know, obviously, in partnership with other members of the executive team, but especially for a publicly traded company, you know, Goodwill is often calculated as part of the financial value of that company. That’s the brand. And if marketing is responsible for building trust and credibility and the brand, for a company and its products and services, I believe it also must be responsible for protecting the company’s brand trust and credibility and the CMO is captain of that ship.

Drew: And, Joe, same thing at Axis?  

Joe: Yeah, I mean, I think we play, if it’s leading, or either being at the table driving the process as part of a cross-functional team, it’s critical to Marshall’s point. What I’d say is, and I think I’m just kind of expanding on what Marshall had shared and some points that Matt made earlier, we’re a horizontal function, of course, we have a deep understanding of customers. But, as you noted, Drew understanding employers, employees, the role that they deliver from a brand standpoint, being able to look at brand health in a different way, and stakeholders in a different way, we bring a unique perspective that other functions don’t, at the same time, again, and I guess this is expanding on what Marshall said, being able to partner with HR who’s obviously a critical stakeholder in this communications. For us, it helps that marketing and commerce are a blended function. But those are two examples of critical cross-functional partners. Legal, I’d say is another one, you want to, one, it’s part of its alignment. Part of it also is that the promotion and adherence to the values are more likely to be successful if multiple functions have a stake in it and are invested in it and are willing to champion the values that you put forward. But getting to the core point, absolutely, we should be either driving it or one of the functions driving it in partnership.  

Drew: Well, I think the point you make that’s so important here is that, and this is so true with every aspect of marketing, is you can’t do it alone in an organization. So, it has to permeate all aspects of the organization, not just marketing. So Matt.

Matt: I agree, maybe I want to build a little bit on it. 

Drew: Okay, go for it. 

Matt: So I also think though, it’s a little bit dependent upon the organization that you join. So what do I mean by that? Not all organizations necessarily believe what we are saying here, and if you have a CEO or a company that is primarily profit-oriented, I will tell you, you will have a hard time as a CMO getting that message through from personal experience. But it’s a choice you have as an employee or as a CMO whether you want to join that company or not. The second point, I would say, and I’m seeing this here and now, I do believe that marketing has more than a seat at the table. But where I’ve seen it work best is when it comes to employees and it comes for example, you know, large-scale hiring of employees, building programs to ensure that yout employees are really part of this partnership between marketing and HR. I think other functions as well, legal and so forth, is absolutely critical. So I would just caution, those of you if you’re in this journey, and you think you can do go it on your own, I’m not suggesting that either Marshall or, Joe, that you suggested that. But I do think that partnership is really, really important. But not all companies, unfortunately, Drew, I think necessarily believe as much in that as maybe the three or four of us.

Drew: I’ve seen any number of companies that either they have stated values, but it’s just you know, it’s basically lipstick on a pig, it’s it’s kind of joke, it’s it’s words up on a wall. But when you know sales are down values get thrown out the window, and it’s like, come on, everybody go do what you got to do. And, and I’m just listening to a book right now. And you know, they’re during the subprime peak, it was, you know, these companies that had stated values, these banks that had great stated values, were driving incentives such that there was no way anybody could deliver on those values, because they were being incented to go against them. So I’m curious, if in your past careers, because obviously, you’re all talking about companies that you’re now working at that have values and you’re living by them, but when values aren’t lived up to have you seen the, we’ll call it the moral decay or the problems that are associated in the absence of it. And Matt, you start to say, not all companies have.

Matt: So, very briefly, look, I, I worked for one of the fastest growing IT companies that in my 30 years of doing this is probably the most customer-centric company I’ve ever worked for. And that was a core value. And in some ways, it permeated into winning, and it permeated into truly driving a growth agenda that frankly, speaking, I have not seen in other companies, not even remotely as much. I would suggest that at certain times that came at a certain cost, that became more important than maybe a few other things. And I for one have found that at times to be on a personal level, at least it makes you stop and makes you think, because you know, we all have our own values framework as well, we all have our own things to deal with. And so again, I personally believe that is also a personal choice. Right? And so, again, you know, I am not necessarily prepared to name certain companies, and I still have great friends at pretty much all the companies I’ve worked for. But that level of belief in what we’re discussing, and the level of execution I’ve seen vary significantly, from company to company. 

Drew: Yeah, there’s a lot of lip service out there. And we could call it, you know, it’s the same thing in commitments to ESG. Some of it is real, and some of it is not. But one of the problems is funny, The Economist wrote about ESG and said it was a problem, because of all of those only sustainability is kind of really measurable. Everything else is sort of how do you really measure it, but I’m curious, I want to get at this notion of measurement. I mean, companies are essentially what they measure. And you know, you can end up having values show up on your employee evaluation forms or not, but if you don’t hold employees accountable to values in the evaluation form, then you know, things slip. I’m curious from your standpoint, how are you measuring if at all changes in sort of internal perceptions of brand values and how they’re done? I mean, do you have tracking studies? Did you benchmark it? Joe, you’re nodding so go ahead.

Joe: Yeah, sure. So, part of what we do, like a lot of companies, we do people engagement surveys, we do it twice per year canvassing the whole enterprise. And we have questions that relate specifically to our values. And we hear from employees, one by answering the question whether or not they feel as an organization, that we’re living the values and then also based on what’s an anecdotal feedback based on how they responded, we get a sense of how many employees were thinking about it. And it’s kind of measuring ourselves through the eyes of our employees, a part of what we do that’s external, but it has an internal aspect to it is we do annually a broker survey, where we ask our brokers who are our customers, what attributes they assigned to us, and we include our values as part of it. So we hear from our brokers, whether or not they feel that our people are upholding our values. So those are different ways that we measure the impact. 

 Drew: How often are you measuring employees? Is that annual?

 Joe: People engagement survey two times per year.  

 Drew: Matt, or Marshall, measurement?

Marshall: Yep. So measurement, we’re doing the same thing in OpenEye, we’re measuring employees and checking that they’re in alignment with company values. But we did research on OpenEye, and its external perception among our customers and prospects prior to being acquired back in 2021. So we have a baseline. And now we’re about to do some additional aided and unaided brand awareness research as we seek to educate the life sciences market about the value of Cadence, or the company that acquired us and why the combination of Cadence and OpenEye is actually going to be good. So I think it’s important to be checking in with your employees who I agree, Matt, are your best brand ambassadors, but also checking in with with customers and prospects and making sure that you’re still in alignment with their expectations of your brand. 

Drew: There’s nothing worse than and I’ll get to that in a second. There’s nothing worse than saying our values are X and then your partners or your customers say, “They are?” But go ahead, Matt, how are you measuring it?

Matt: Yeah, I look, we also do an ENPS twice a year, I have to say, I had my own hesitations. I’ve seen this in other places where it was a little bit more lip service. I think to both Joe and Marshall’s point. If you tie this back to what is important to you, and then you turn that into action, that’s kind of where the survey in itself becomes meaningful. So we had employees who basically fairly accurately and very loudly articulated their displeasure, about our, you know, I mentioned the hybrid workplace, you know, so, you know, it’s a choice, and I give our CEO and our CHR a lot of credit. They’re like, you know what, if we want to be a great place to work, and a good portion of our employees are telling us that our policies now coming out of COVID, need to change, we did that. And there’s a number of other examples that you can kind of tie back to your values. I think what I would add to the action piece matters. I think the the Alice in Wonderland, if you don’t know where you’re going, it doesn’t matter how fast you’re running, if you combine those two, right, if you’re articulate where you want to go, and then you translate that into tangible actions based on feedback, like a biannual survey. That’s a very powerful vehicle.  

Drew: Yeah, I so I’m so glad you mentioned both of those things. Because I do know, we used to do these employee evaluation report. In fact, there’s one a survey in my book on on that to help folks get at that. But the thing is, if you don’t, if you get that feedback, and then you don’t ask, and you don’t act on it, employees get pretty bitter. Anyway, this is the moment of the show where we ask what would Ben Franklin say? Well, we’re talking about values which ended up being part of your brand and your reputation. So I think he might say, glass, China, and reputation are easily cracked and never well mended. So get them right, and really focus on those. Okay, so speaking of words of wisdom, let’s get your final words of wisdom when it comes to staying true to your brand values. Let’s start first with Matt Preschern.  

Matt: I believe in just one word here is authenticity and authenticity as an individual as a leader, and then by extension as a leadership team. And as a company is more important than anything else. If you if you want to have a company that is values-driven. And as a brand that stands for that you can say one thing and do another thing. And make never the mistake thinking that your employees don’t realize, let alone your customers or your partners.  

Drew: They’re watching your actions, not just your words. All right. Joe Cohen from Axis. Joe, what’s your final words of wisdom?

Joe: Yeah, I’ll give mine and by mistake, I left off a biggie as relates to measurement. In our performance reviews, we measure critical skills that align with our values. So managers measure employees as it relates to values that was a pickup item I neglected to mention, as far as the three words of wisdom, one would be with values, connect them to the business, make it clear how brand values align with business priorities. Number two would be don’t go it alone. As a few of us, such as all of us it’s shared. So forge coalitions embrace the idea of shared successes. And third would be go beyond the launch, for lack of a better way of putting it meaning that don’t just introduce the values, continually promote them, encourage them and remind people of them and at the seniormost level of the organization up to the CEO make it clear that they’re a priority. Otherwise, they become words on paper that people forget about.

Drew: Love it. Okay, Marshall, bring us home.

Marshall: All right, well, first of all, determine your brand values, communicate them consistently to your external markets and empower your employees to embody them, and then stand firm on them to build and strengthen your reputation. And one final tip for CMOs do not under-resource brand marketing and research, especially if you’re in a very dynamic market where you need to adjust and adapt.

Drew: Love it. All right. Well, thank you, Marshall. Joe, Matt, you’re all great sports. And thank you, audience for staying with us.

Show Credits
Renegade Marketers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser. Hey, that’s me! This show is produced by Melissa Caffrey, Laura Parkyn, and our B2B podcast partners Share Your Genius. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and the intro Voice Over is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about B2B branding, CMO Huddles, or my CMO coaching service, check out renegade.com. I’m your host, Drew Neisser. And until next time, keep those Renegade thinking caps on and strong!