Vicki Young - The role of brand in digital transformation
Vicki Young is the owner and CEO of Nalla Design, an award-winning branding agency from London that has been solving complex branding challenges from companies such as EY and Informa.
This episode emphasizes the key role that a company's brand plays in its digital transformation, which encompasses the entire business rather than just being limited to design. Vicki highlights the main benefits of a strong brand and addresses both the challenges that can arise as well as the main considerations to tackle these challenges.
Links and mentions:
“Yes absolutely, it's that golden thread running through everything. If the strategy, the verbal, and the visual are all aligned then that is almost like the golden triangle of where you want to be to make sure that it kind of powers success.”
Welcome to the Agile Digital Transformation Podcast where we explore different aspects of digital transformation and digital experience with your host Tim Butara, content, and community manager at Agiledrop.
Tim Butara: Hello everyone, thank you for tuning in. I’m joined today by Vicky Young, owner and CEO of Nalla Design, an award-winning branding agency from London. In this episode, Vicky and I will be talking about the role that branding plays in a business's digital transformation. Welcome Vicky, thanks for joining us; is there anything that you'd like to add to the introduction?
Vicky Young: No, that's great! Thank you for having me on your podcast today. It's a pleasure to be your guest.
Tim Butara: It's great to have you, Vicky, thanks for taking the time for this. Well if you have nothing to add then let me just cut to the chase here and ask what is the role of brand in a digital transformation?
Vicky Young: Well, it's quite interesting because; it's an area that's often overlooked when businesses are thinking about digital transformation. And really when we look back at what digital transformation is, it's essentially, you're a large incumbent business, you're being threatened by new more nimble businesses and often from you know the startup world. What you need to do is; take the whole business on a journey, on a transformation; you need to sort of align the whole company with the same vision and same values. You need to make sure that everyone's taken on that journey with you, your customers as well. So, the purpose of brand is really important in the sense of, you don't want to end up with a really technically advanced product or approach and actually look very dated in how you appear. And by not having those visual cues aligned with where you are kind of strategically going to go, you're kind of really missing a trick.
Tim Butara: So, you would say it's definitely a combination of both kind of the usability and kind of value that your users and customers get out of it and also the kind of element of recognition that the branding element and the visual elements bring?
Vicky Young: Yes, exactly! I think the value of brand equity just isn't even addressed when people consider this digital transformation process. Everyone's very very focused on technology and how can we get a seamless end-to-end consumer journey as kind of you hear the same things again and again. But actually, how do we also make sure that we're memorable, how do we help recall, how do we help our customers really feel like they're part of our tribe? And brand is a vital ingredient in helping to make sure that happens.
Tim Butara: Yeah, definitely. And as you said you have to bring the customers in as well, because the customers are also one of your most important stakeholder groups and you have to have an alignment across all of your stakeholder groups, probably, right?
Vicky Young: Exactly, yeah. So, it's kind of understanding your customers’ needs and addressing those of course through a digital tool, which is exactly what digital transformation is, but it’s about aligning everyone. So, you can't just focus on what the customer is; you have to kind of take your team on a journey as well and if you don't do that then the challenge there is that people will leave. You have to make sure that everyone's on the same playing field and kind of right at the beginning the project where you're thinking “okay, like this, there's disconnect, we need to evolve and we need to use digital as a tool to transform.” It’s kind of making sure that you step back and look at where we are going as a business, where do we want to be as a brand, and really setting all of your kind of vision and foundations which is part of brand strategy right there at the beginning of the project will allow you to be able to charter this path.
And this digital transformation journey is a difficult one. You know it's a bumpy road, it requires a whole change in mindset in terms of how a business has approached a project before, you know agile sprints, digital methodology, scrum, these are all brand new words to a lot of businesses. It’s quite a challenging time but being able to right at the beginning set the vision, this is where we're going to go, this is what we believe in, this is what makes us this business; that's all brand strategy. It allows that journey to be a lot smoother because the team is suddenly aligned in, “okay, I know where the vision is,I know what we believe in, what we value and I can understand why we're doing this. And I’m going to you know stick with this company and we're going to go through this transformation journey together and I’m going to learn a whole load of stuff. At times I’m going to feel uncomfortable and out of my comfort zone but I believe in what we're doing and we're following that journey”. So it's about very much aligning everyone, I guess.
Tim Butara: And as you said about aligning everyone right from the very beginning. If I understand correctly, branding definitely is not something that you can kind of just add on to your digital transformation process once it's already underway. And then you realize, “Oh, maybe a new fresher brand would be good. So, let's do it.” But I don't know. How successful do you think such an approach can be?
Vicky Young: Yes. I quite often see that. I think people misunderstand the role of brand in digital transformation and see it as a UI thing. So, something that could be sort of tacked on to the end, I guess. And be like, “Oh, you know, no, we're doing a transformation. We don't need to consider brand at the moment because we're going to be looking at the design elements once we build the product.” And I think the challenge point there is that you end up not having everyone aligned with the same vision and values. Not everyone's motivated on the same journey. And essentially, what you're kind of ending up with is an afterthought, a tack on. And when we've worked with businesses, what happens in the larger businesses is that there might not be just one digital product that they're developing at one time, there might be multiple, right? So, there might be perhaps three different development teams, development projects, working on different things. Some might be more internal products, some might be more external products. And actually, you've got all these teams using different kind of visual elements going into the digital products. So actually, by kind of addressing brand right at the beginning of the project really saves time and energy.
So, it means that you can establish where you're going from a brand strategic point of view, make sure visually you're connecting that strategy and making sure that actually that brand, those original and unique identifications that are yours are ready for the UI team to take on. So making sure that all those UI assets are kind of guidelines. And everything from rollover states down to how things move, can all be kind of completed. So that when it comes to the actual different development teams or squads sometimes called and doing their different elements of the project, they're all seen from the same hymn sheet because they've all got kind of really clearly UI guidelines that are linking straight back to the brands. We understand what we need to look like, what we need to say and sound like, what tone of voice we've got. And therefore, you can roll out multiple projects at the same time because everything's aligned and you haven't got one perhaps app over there using - all right, we all might be using the same color and the same typeface, but we’re using different interaction states and styles of charts and graphs or for example.
And then over here, we've got a kind of a different product that's maybe for our kind of internal teams, maybe there's some sort of internal database that's used, or internal kind of internet type piece that is then using different elements. And then suddenly, you're like, you've ended up with this hodgepodge where each different UI and UX team has used different sort of methodology, because you can't have one design over everything. So starting brand right at the beginning of the project is really key in that sense.
Tim Butara: Yes. Because otherwise, as you pointed out, you might as well have three or more brands or basically one brand for every team that's working on something on a project if the teams are not aligned.
Vicky Young: Yes. Exactly that.
Tim Butara: From the other perspective, what would you say are the main business benefits of a strong branding when undergoing the process of digital transformation?
Vicky Young: I think the kind of business benefits are, I mean, firstly, I've said it quite a lot already, but like aligning everyone is really key and taking everyone on the journey. And when we've spoken to a lot of digital transformational leaders, and they said the one area that they wish they’d given them more focus was the culture and investing more time and effort into getting everyone aligned on the journey from a cultural benefit. And it's a huge tool in terms of maximizing engagement in the digital product that you produce. But that's from a kind of customer point of view, and also a team point of view. And the way the kind of whole global culture is going is actually internal teams can kind of sabotage what you're producing. There might be a new way of doing something and they just choose not to do it. And they just don't use that tool. And so, it's about getting everyone on the bus. And brand and design is key to that because it suddenly makes some things of valuable to use, interesting, engaging, delightful in some cases.
And it also allows you to make sure that any of your brand’s outputs in terms of marketing advertising are really aligned. So they're kind of, you might have your new digital product ready to launch, ready to go out. But how are you telling people about that? And how are you communicating it? How can you get new leads and new customers to come and join by talking about what your business does? Then that all comes down to branding as well and in terms of like what channels do you use and making sure there's this sort of seamless golden thread that goes across everything. And so whenever you're kind of talking about your business and your brand that includes what the new product is doing, that it's all completely seamless. And that you're saying the same thing. It's right for the business, it's communicating its values and it's looking modern and relevant. Which is one of the main challenges a lot of big incumbent businesses are having.
It's spring boarding off the tradition that you've already set, that brand equity you've already built. But it's sort of adding the new assets to make it relevant to the modern world and to make it right for customers of today. And it's all about taking everyone on that journey,
Tim Butara: Yeah because, I mean, the first impression that you get when interacting with a brand largely determines your whole attitude towards the brand. So if that first impression is a negative one that will probably severely negatively impact your attitude towards that specific brand. So basically, it's not rocket science to say that, yes branding is of vital importance to a business.
Vicky Young: Yes. Absolutely. It's quite interesting, there's some crazy stat from Research Gate that says “97% of decisions are made on looking only.” So, visual. And these decisions are made instantly and unconsciously.
Tim Butara: Exactly.
Vicky Young: So, immediately you choose whether it's right for you. And that's the power of getting this right, essentially. It's a bit like you're at risk if you don't evolve and develop your brand as part of this process, you're at risk of looking outdated, old and not relevant. And actually part of the branding exercise, much like part of the digital transformation process is stepping back and looking at the customer needs, looking at those customers. What trends are happening? What are their preferences? What are their pains, gains and emotional needs? And let's make sure that we're adjusting our brand to be targeting and speaking right to those hearts and minds of those customers that we've got, and that we want to get. And the visual element of that is key.
Tim Butara: So, it's a very human centered effort you would say?
Vicky Young: Yes. Very human centered. Absolutely. Yes. The human side is key. And I think what's quite interesting about the kind of benefits of doing a branding exercise as part of this is that it's also about delighting and informing and sometimes surprising. So, it's really easy for a UI/UX developer to really focus on a kind of like that service design element. Delivering the product, making the website seamless to use, making the app easy to interact with. Which is key. But actually, the things that are most powerful and captivate people is when things feel surprising or delightful. And we know that from personal experience, right? You get a card through the post. You're not expecting a letter. No one writes letters anymore, because everyone emails. And it's those little touches that make it memorable and have high recalls. And that's all wrapped up in that brand.
Tim Butara: It's the details that end up mattering much more than you initially thought. And as you said, I mean, sending a letter to somebody, that's also a branding issue, right? Because as you said, most people don't do that, most companies just communicate via email or other digital channels. So sending letters must be a part of your brand apparently?
Vicky Young: Yes. In some cases, it's right to be part of your brand. Customization is a huge trend that has been obviously kicking around for a while now. But it's more and more going in that direction. More and more people want to not feel like just a customer, to feel like a person, to feel known. And it's quite interesting because I think that the way this trend is going, it's almost going back to 360 when you used to walk into the bank and they used to know your name, and a bit, “Oh, hi. How are you?” And used to know your family. I used to go to the dentist and they'd ask how your son or daughter was. And we're losing more and more of that in today's world as people jump from supplier to supplier and things become less and less local. So I think that very aspect of how your brand can become more local is a really interesting thing to look into and invest in really.
Tim Butara: Yes. Definitely. So okay, this is already a kind of a nice transition into my next question. And that is, how should companies approach branding? And can you tell us a few words about your approach at Nalla?
Vicky Young: Yes, sure. So, the first approach we would do is to basically or we'd advise people do is really do your customer research. There's no point designing for what the board of directors likes. This has to be 100% based on who your customer demographic is; what they're interested in; what they like, what they don't like; what other businesses are they using even outside your field? We see again and again, a lot of businesses are obsessed with their competitors. They go, “X competitors are doing this, we need to copy that or we need to like, replicate that.”
And don't get me wrong, that's important. But actually you need to be looking way beyond that. What else is taking up your customers’ time? What else is their mindshare worth? Because they'll not only be looking at other competitors, but they'll also be used to really great digital products out there that they're using day in, day out. They'll be used to using Uber, there'll be used to using Deliveroo, potentially. And again, I'm not sure that's a UK brand or if that's global, just a caveat there.. And they'll be used to using all these different kind of innovations from different sectors they use in their personal life and their business life. And they have an expectation now that whatever you're offering needs to be as good at that as that. And not necessarily, is it a case of going from competitor to competitor. There's a higher expectation level.
So one of my pieces of advice would be like, look beyond just what your current competitors are doing and look what else your customers are interacting with and using, and what level of service and what level of intuitiveness and what level of customization is happening in those spaces, which will allow you to really bring something new and fresh to your sector. And one of the core things that we do is really understand a customer's emotional needs. So when we talk about emotional needs, it's a bit like what's their ultimate desire? And you may have heard of Maslow's hierarchical needs. And part of that is that emotional desire. So what works today kind of what do they really ultimately care about? So you could say that they want our products to be easy to access. Okay, fine. Actually, what is the emotional need behind that? It's probably that they don't have time. They need to do things at speed. And so therefore maybe the brand needs to be more direct. And cut the jargon waffle and let's get clarity in our messaging. Let's make sure our tone of voice is really clear. So that emotional need, that underlying under why is what we really need to tap into.
And really, you need to be aware that in order to engage people to the right level, you need to think both visually and verbally. So it's all very well saying, “Okay, let's get a designer in to make this look good.” But actually, what you're saying is as important as what you're visually looking like, so they need to marry together to form a really strong brand. And so, make sure that you’re kind of not only addressing what it looks like, but also the tone of voice, the copywriting, the clarity of the messages, and making sure that that all pairs back into what those customers would like need and what will resonate with them most.
Tim Butara: Yes. And this goes back to one of the previous questions where we said that the communication around the brand must be aligned and must be aligned across all channels and also aligned with the visual identity. So like, we could paraphrase this now as the visual and verbal identity of a brand must be aligned, obviously?
Vicky Young: Yes. Absolutely. Yes. It's that golden thread running through everything. And if the strategy and the verbal and the visual are all aligned, then that is almost like the golden triangle of where you want to be to make sure that it kind of powers success, essentially.
Tim Butara: That was very well said. Yes. And on a similar note to this question. What were some of the biggest branding challenges that you’ve faced so far at Nalla? There are some projects that really stood out to you due to its exceptional complexity or your very innovative and ingenious solution or something?
Vicky Young: Yes. Let's just talk about Informa. I think that's quite a good example of this. So Informa is a FTSE100 company. They are global and they specialize in corporate events. So they offer training and put on a large amount of - you've probably been to an Informa training or event if you've engaged in any corporate training. And they're really great events. And we started working with them in 2014. And they had a really interesting challenge within a specific sector of one of their business that kind of which is in the Informa Connect sector of their business. And they needed to really platformatize how they approached their customers and how they were buying tickets from them, essentially.
At the time we met them, they had around 2000 different brands, all with their own branding for each event and all with their own kind of website that was done locally via WordPress. Nothing was centralized or controlled. There was no way of a customer going to one event and being able to tell that this other event that was also would be relevant was theirs. So they were kind of losing out in the kind of cross sell and upsell opportunities. And the challenges was because there was no central control for their websites, it meant that some were transactional, so customers could buy tickets and things directly from the website, and others weren't. So it meant they'd have to make a phone call to buy a ticket. And this was in 2014. So, it was just at a point where that just wasn't acceptable anymore. And the business was really aware that they needed to move on.
They also needed to gain some control. And to do that we were brought in to help tackle that challenge. So how do we have 2000 different events and get them all onto one platform that is transactional, and where we can really drive leads and start measuring some of our metrics a lot better?
So the first challenge we tackled was, actually, if we want to expand the opportunity for upsell and cross sell, we really need to be able to have a visual identity that can actually link one event to another. So that you would go to an event and say you saw another one advertised, you’d be like, “Oh, that's one of their events.” Or like, “That was a really good event, the last one we went to. We should go to that one again.” So immediately, there's a sense of trust and so it needed recognition across 2000 different events.
We also needed to build a designer website platform that could be easily be used by everyone. So there was a kind of a bit of a challenging conversation around the sense of like, we need to be able to bring templates into the system. And there was a little bit of a kickback from all the team saying like, “We don't want all of our websites to look exactly the same. And we've all got different needs.” So what we needed to do is to produce a kind of modular approach that would allow a site that could be really customized, but within certain parameters that they could turn on and off modules and blocks of content, they could be able to really quickly brand their website. So to do that we added in a bit of an algorithm into the back end that allowed them to choose certain design elements within a set scope of colors, a set scope of sort of themes, and that that could easily roll out into the website.
So what it meant is that rather than an event going ahead and saying, “Right, we need to create a website, if it was starting an event from scratch or update a website from last year with all this new content.” They weren't kind of going back to the drawing board. “Alright, let's get in touch with that developer and da, da, da.” That they could actually go onto this platform and be like, “Right, let the marketing team set in the background what our brand colors are, what our brand theme is and choose what modules I want, and right on write content and hit go.” And immediately they had a fully working e-platform that could do transactions, that was all linked up with the right SEO, that could instantly ping out social media and be able to be updated and be lovely and flexible, plays video, etc. etc.
So suddenly they went from like what was 2000 different agencies all thinking about different brands and their own websites and all that work to suddenly, like, “Oh, we can set up our own website in six hours. Because we've streamlined it down. And actually, on that website, we're able to cross out other products that we've got and other offerings.” So, that was probably the biggest challenge we've had so far, and really shows how a brand rationale is needed very much in that space. Because you can imagine if they just ignored the brand element. I mean, you'd end up building a website that had all that functionality but couldn't be customized or would be customized with a great pain point in the sense of, everyone's got to be this color way and you just put your logo in the corner. And then there's no kind of fluidity in terms of customer touch points that makes you feel like you're kind of that brand. And then there's no continuity in terms of going out into the social media side of things. There's no templates that are already set up for you to do your sales collateral with. It would still be a bit of a mess really. So, kind of aligning that branding was massively key to the success of that project.
Tim Butara: Yes. Sorry. I kind of lost my train of thought there.
Vicky Young: No problem.
Tim Butara: Okay, then I'll just move on to the next question.
Vicky Young: Sure.
Tim Butara: Because it's still kind of related to this because now you will describe your approach to branding. And now I kind of want you to help apply this, if maybe some of our listeners are stuck in their branding efforts, or they're struggling with executing their digital transformation because they're stuck in their branding efforts. What would be the number one thing you would advise them to kind of help them get out of this issue?
Vicky Young: Okay, so I guess it's a different challenges for different ... So, for those that are on, there's kind of two counters, people who are listening to this, who are perhaps going on the digital transformation journey and have identified that there's a challenge with the brand. And there's those that haven't considered it yet, and have maybe started and a bit like, “Oh, actually, maybe we do have a problem.” So, I guess my first bit of advice to those who are thinking about going on a digital transformation journey is like, just put brands on the agenda. And you can save yourself a whole stack of time by feeding in some key brand questions into early customer research and kind of approaching it that way. So I think definitely just put brand on the agenda.
To those who already started, my advice is be like, don't panic. It's invariably not too late that you can kind of almost take a step back now and just think about actually “Have we got everything aligned? Are we missing something? Are we just applying the branding that's perhaps 15, 20 years old to this new digital product? And is there some uniqueness here or not? Is there some standout? Are we really clear on how the marketing is going to tie together?”
And I think if you kind of just take a step back and look at that, that will allow you to kind of make a decision on, like, “Okay, we do actually have a bit of a brand challenge on here. We do need to start to look at it.”
I think there's often a few points that people get stuck on. The first bit is around that value piece. So what are our brand values? What do we stand for? What is our USP? What makes us different from our competitors? So that's one area that the brand strategy can really help you with. Some companies have this nailed. They’re like, we really know what we stand for, we've got our brand values, and we've done this exercise already, relatively recently, they feel modern and relevant.
And so in that case, you'd almost go to “Step B” which would be “Okay, so we know what we stand for, but we actually visually and verbally don't know how to tell that story.” So the challenge there is about making sure that you look at kind of what your values are and what your customer needs, and actually provide the relevant and modern digital design elements. And often with digital transformations, let's not forget print. Print sometimes is still a key part of some businesses. So it's across all customer touch points. And that's the key thing to remember here. So, actually, visually and verbally, are we kind of talking consistently, looking consistent across all those touch points? And is it telling the story that we want to tell? Are we portraying, are we reflecting those values? Are we looking like we stand out from the competition or are we just blending in?
And I guess the third thing is sometimes a communication challenge. So, people might be like, “Okay, we've transformed. We feel like our brand is in a good place. We visually and verbally feel aligned. But it's that implementing that story into our marketing day to day.” So therefore, you've got a bit of a comms challenge. So, you perhaps haven't got the traction that you want from engaging with current customers and getting new customers. So that becomes down a comms challenge, which is more into your marketing and advertising. Like how is your brand showing up there? And are your values showing up there? And are you feeling engaged? Feeling like you're engaging people at that level?
So, there's a kind of three touch point throughout all of our projects, and three areas that I would advise people to look at. The strategy, the visual and verbal identity, and then that communication plan and challenge.
Tim Butara: Good. I truly hope and believe that this will help at least somebody out who's listening right now. But I want to return to a point that we kind of touched upon in the beginning of the call and you kind of reiterated now. And that is, in a way branding is a company's competitive advantage. It's that which makes it stand out among competition and it's that which makes a user or customer or visitor decide on that specific company over a different one.
Vicky Young: Yes. 100% it's quite interesting in the world of sort of branding terminology, you might hear things like 'Tribes'. Which is the kind of basic human instinct that people like to belong to things and a lot of brands particularly in more of the kind of direct-to-consumer approach tend to have a lot more a tribal following. Nike is a great example of this. People want to be part of that. They believe you can really see their mantra coming through “Just do it.” When people think about workout gear and the kind of quality that all the sports people use a lot of their clothing and footwear apparel. So, there's a market quality and trust.
But from a B2B business, it's about making sure that your standout should come from a uniqueness and you shouldn't look just to your competitors, you should be looking at consumer products and consumer experiences to really turbo boost you. I see again and again a lot of people kind of falling short where they're just almost blinkered and just looking at “Oh, like X bank’s doing this so we need to do that.” And not thinking fresh and new. And there's no point creating this almost like spiraling out of control copycat mentality where like “Oh, such as such competitor’s done it like this. So, we should do like that.” You end up with whole sectors that are almost like the same shade of blue, for instance. There's no differentiation, I think.
There's a sense of merit and bravery and being willing to kind of stand out and be different. And customers like that. They like brands that stand for something. So definitely that kind of clarity of standout on USPs is really key to address.
Tim Butara: But at the same time, because customers and users are used to certain ways and certain approaches of doing things, you must probably also be careful not to stray too much off the kind of established norm of doing things. Like if your UI elements try to be too innovative, that might severely hurt the usability of your product, right?
Vicky Young: Yes. Definitely. It's definitely a balance, I guess, in that sense. Yes. At a point, everyone going out doing some like crazy rainbow tech moving backgrounds on their websites or anything. But I think, yes, essentially, it's about getting that balance. And occasionally it's okay to disrupt. There's a lot of merit in being just a little bit delightfully surprising at times. I think one of the main challenges that people are facing today is that it's almost easy to replicate the same UI elements across everything. The same shape button, the same sort of interaction. And Google always makes it too easy in some aspects to bring some of these elements over in terms of styling into UI and UX. And what you end up with, if you imagine it as a physical thing, you end up almost with a high street of the same shop or a town being designed with exactly the same house again and again and again. Same window, same door, same window, same door, same bush. And it gets boring.
Tim Butara: You think it's very sterile somehow?
Vicky Young: Yes, exactly. And it doesn't feel like your own property. And that's why in the physical world, if people do live in a part of town, I certainly know London's very prone to this particular Victorian age, they cookie cut the terraces. Rows and rows of terraces that are all the same, same doors. And actually, if you look at those, you are walking down the street, people have got different windows, different doors, different plants outside, they've customized it. And I think you need to think about doing the same with your digital product in the sense of, don't just use the same typeface and the same colors, same layout. etc. Because going from competitor to competitor just feels boring and soulless, and the recall is lost.
So that's why you need to kind of look to innovate and look to surprise. And it’s only the brands that are like kind of pushing these things. And I agree not to extreme extent where it becomes unusable but adding these interesting interactions that are based on what the customer wants. Perhaps some sort of video interaction there or we could add this type of feature here, or perhaps we need to think about how this sounds rather than just how it looks. That's the touch points that makes you have higher recall and become front of mind for when people are thinking about using a product that you produce.
Tim Butara: And now we've tied things up nicely and kind of come back to the alignment of everything and standing out as a competitive advantage of branding among your competitors, so yes. I think we nicely concluded the main part of the call. But before we say our goodbyes, I want to ask you a more general question related to what's going on now in 2020. And that is, do you have any words of advice to business owners and decision makers as we move towards the end of this super weird and unprecedented year?
Vicky Young: Yes. It's been a super challenging time, actually, I'm actually in the middle of writing a guide for our website. We do a lot of guides and articles on our website and it's about just that. Like what to look at in terms of like recovering. Now we're kind of in recovery mode. And I think there's lots of things that companies can do. I think one of the first things at the beginning of the outbreak, I sort of banged on my drum quite a lot about, don't pull the investment of marketing, brands, product development, digital transformation, don't pull that off your agenda. And I think a lot of companies are kind of always going into panic mode, and they kind of like look to cut costs. Whereas the smart guys are looking to reduce costs in areas that aren't going to give them any sort of kickback or any sort of revenue streams.
And actually, when you look at, if you pull marketing and brand development, and that kind of particular area of business output, actually deeply affects leads, which then affects customers and then ultimately affects turnover. And so, my first piece of advice at the beginning of COVID was like, “Oh my God, definitely let's really consider deeply before you make any sort of cuts, can you streamline rather than completely cut off any investments that you are planning to make within that space?” I think now, it's a case of really kind of looking back at what you do, and seeing if you can approach transformation in a lean way if budgets have changed. So there's a lot of successful projects that are happening at the moment that aren't necessarily massive, great big transformations. It could be taking a particular pain point first and tackling that, and advancing a digital product for one area of your business as opposed to like the whole thing holistically. And the idea that you start with one thing and then that you can then kind of almost grow other areas in recovery. So, I think just thinking about taking things in bite sized chunks over stopping anything. I think if you stop, you're just going to fall deep behind.
A lot of businesses I know have used the downtime during this early half of 2020 to start looking back at their business plans and to kind of really know about where to invest, and kind of really analyze about where they can improve on what they can do better and where they can be a lot more, and I hate the word agile, because it's always overused, but amazing in this context. Be more agile into adapting what's going on around you. And to do that you need innovation and you need investment in design thinking. And you need an open and opportunistic, I guess, board, in the sense of the people around you need to be aligned with the main vision, which is setting that kind of end goal and really thinking about, “Okay, with our values and what we believe as a company, where is the right things to invest in now, to think for tomorrow?” And anyone with a longer-term vision would have been doing that during this time. Which is which is a good thing to do. And certainly, as the economy recovers, the implementation of that the conversations around that are becoming more and more heard, I guess.
Tim Butara: That's a great note to finish on. But just before we do, I want to ask you if people want to reach out to learn more about you or to contact you, where is the best place for them to do that?
Vicky Young: Sure. So, our probably best bet is our website. So, it's nalla.co.uk and on there you'll find, aside from our projects and things, you'll find a whole bunch of guides and resources which are really useful for people to kind of read different tips. We've written a lot of articles about digital transformation, about key tips and tricks to look out for when you are considering reviewing your brand, through to like how to choose an agency. So, there's a lot of such guides on there, so I think that would be really useful for people. You just go on to the Insights tab on our website.
Also, I am personally on LinkedIn, so please look out for me and connect. I frequently post on LinkedIn a variety of things and insights of things as well, so you can grab some more bits in there. And I always find LinkedIn's because it's sort of evasive. You can just pop in on LinkedIn and kind of learn some new things at your convenience. So, yes, on LinkedIn I am down as “Vicky Young.” If you search “Vicky Young Nalla” I am sure it will come up in that way as well.
Tim Butara: Okay. Thank you so much Vicky for taking the time for this great talk with me. And to everyone else, that's it for this episode. Have a great day everyone and stay safe.
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