Simplifiers Interview: Deirdre Bigley, CMO at Bloomberg

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Behind every brand delivering simpler experiences for customers is a leader who recognizes the inherent value in keeping things simple. Here I interview marketing leaders and founders of brands that have performed well in the Global Brand Simplicity Index and/or that we deem as simplifiers based on a review of the brand. In this Simplifiers interview, I speak with Deirdre Bigley, CMO at Bloomberg.

MM: What does your brand stand for and how does it deliver on that promise?

DB: Bloomberg is a data, news and analysis company that provides the most timely and relevant information for financial and business professionals to make the most informed decisions.

Giving professionals the ability to analyze any piece of data, regulation change or event in the financial markets within moments of it happening is imperative to our business. When you have a company like us that’s so complex, you need a simple brand that communicates our unique value.

MM: What role does simplicity play in delivering on the promise of the brand?

DB: Simple and smart design is something that’s been key to the Bloomberg brand since it was founded. Here’s one example. When we first designed the terminal, keyboards were not something stockbrokers used, they were for secretaries. Bloomberg had to get over this hurdle to make the terminal appealing to stockbrokers, which is why the keyboard was designed to not look exactly like a regular keyboard. For example, we don’t have an enter key, we have a “go” key.

MM: How do we strive to keep things simple for your marketing team?

DB: At Bloomberg, the marketing organization aims to be a reflection of the intensity and instantaneousness of our company brand. For our marketing team to work well, we need to be insanely simple. We’ve built our marketing organization on the premise that we can get things done within moments, and react to the marketplace instantaneously. To simplify the marketing organization, we’ve developed tight-knit cross-disciplinary teams, comprised of content, design and technology.

For us, it’s imperative to hire people who can fit the culture and embody this belief that being smart and fast is a good thing. People that don’t get too hung up on making sure the strategy is perfect before we start executing. Those are the kinds of people are going to do well here and fall into this culture of simplicity easily

MM: What is the role of the customer in your product development?

DB: The amount of information Bloomberg has to supply to our customers in real time all the time is staggering. We’re very devoted, as a company, to customer service. We have people all day everyday walking the floors of the banks, making sure people are taking most advantage of the tools that they particularly need to get their job done.

Let me give you a concrete example. One of the keys on the keyboard is “help,” which, when you hit twice, summons a customer service person. When a customer says, I need the terminal to do x, y or z, that suggestion is immediately sent back to our R&D department and those changes are made. It’s also our job to know all the ramifications of a given development in the market, and what that means for requirements of the terminal, before it has happened. Bloomberg stands for constant innovation and evolution of the product, which is part of why there has never been another Bloomberg.

MM: How do you lead as a simplifier?

DB: I feel that it’s my job to ensure that the marketing organization epitomizes the brand. We have to operate like Bloomberg—data intensive, fast, and very current. In order for me to build an organization that can live up to the brand’s attributes, the marketing organization has to be insanely nimble, with teammates who are empowered to make decisions on their own. You can’t have nimble without simple. To be simple, you must ask yourself, does our marketing leadership team have a clear vision of what we have to accomplish? Are we organized in such a way that we can get things done quickly?

MM: What’s the most recent experience you’ve had personally that you would characterize as simple?

DB: In the past few months, I’ve started to use Uber in my suburban town, which has significantly simplified my life. Rather than negotiating car availability with my kids, we can grab an accessible and easy to use Uber.

MM: What are the organizational changes that need to be made to build a culture of simplicity?

DB: A push for simplicity has to come from the top. Mike Bloomberg had a vision for this company. While the technology, messaging and product has changed with the times, his overall vision for what Bloomberg would provide to the markets has not wavered.

MM: Why do you think it’s so difficult for companies to deliver simple experiences?

DB: I’ve worked in companies where there’s no consistent view of the company’s offerings, the market, or the customer. Because of this, many companies don’t understand all the interactions a customer can have with them. An organization needs, at the very least, a common view of the customer in order to meet and anticipate customer needs.

MM: What does simplicity mean to you?

DB: Simplicity is taking something complex and boiling it down to its essence. Nothing feels simple in the beginning—everything is big and hairy. Simplicity is taking those things that feel big and complex and working them down until you’ve got the solution that can be executed quickly, easily and successfully. Simplicity is never done.

This is this an ongoing Simplifiers series. See interviews with SVP, Chief Marketing & External Affairs Officer at Abbott, Elaine Leavenworth, GE CMO, Linda Boff; McLaren Automotive Head of Brand Marketing, Stephen Lambert; Ascension Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Nick Ragone; Hertz CMO, Matt Jauchius; Direct Line Group Marketing Director, Mark Evans; McDonald’s CMO, Deborah Wahl; President, Liza Landsman and VP Marketing, Sumaiya Balbale; Target CMO, Jeff Jones; Spotify CMO, Seth Farbman; Ally Financial CMO, Andrea Riley; Gannett CMO, Andy Yost; CVS Health CMO, Norman De Greve; Dunkin’ Brands CMO, John Costello; Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh; Southwest Airlines CMO, Kevin Krone; and Google CMO, Lorraine Twohill.

Know a simplifier or would like to be included in the series? Please recommend an executive for my next interview:

Margaret Molloy is global CMO and head of business development at Siegel+Gale. Follow her on Twitter: @MargaretMolloy and Instagram:@MargaretMMolloy

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