Behind every brand delivering simpler experiences for customers is a leader who recognizes the inherent value in keeping things simple. In Simplifiers, Margaret Molloy interviews business leaders who put simplicity to work. Here, she speaks with Jerome Hiquet, Chief Marketing Officer, Formula E.
Margaret Molloy: What is Formula E?
Jerome Hiquet: Formula E is an electric street racing championship with 14 races in 12 cities around the world. We are a five-year-old series that mixes sports entertainment with a social purpose. Our mission is to excite generations around electric vehicles and clean energy.
MM: And what does Formula E stand for?
JH: Our vision is a cleaner future, faster. The way to deliver this purpose is to create motorsport experiences that excite generations into electric mobility and embracing clean energy.
MM: How do you deliver on that promise every day?
JH: There are three ways to enjoy and experience Formula E—by watching our variety of content through digital and linear platforms, through gaming which includes real-time virtual racing at each race, or by attending one of our races around the world. The way we deliver on our promise is trying at each touchpoint to cover the main brand pillars that focus on racing in iconic locations across the globe, bringing future technology closer to people, be an exciting sports entertainment to watch, and promote electric mobility and clean energy.
MM: What role does simplicity play in delivering on that promise?
JH: When you take motorsport which has a lot of tradition and legacy, and you introduce two elements of disruptions—the sport going electric and races being held in cities around the world—it is essential to have messaging and a purpose that is simple and clear.
Simplicity also means easy accessibility. We focus on creating events where fans don’t have to travel hours to visit a track. We also ensure Formula E can be easily accessed on TV. We want to bring people around the world one step closer to electric vehicles, and we are proud to see the youth audience joining the electric movement through Formula E.
MM: What benefits has Formula E experienced from simplifying?
JH: Simplifying has helped us to scale and raise awareness much faster. In less than five years, we have become a major sports entertainment and likely the only sport with a social purpose at its core.
MM: As a marketing leader, how do you keep things “simple” for your team?
JH: Firstly, always be clear and align about their scope, how we are going to measure our performance, and how I can help them daily.
I also try to connect with what the brand vision is. What are the key battles that we have to focus on, and from there, prioritize.
Lastly, I love to always ask at the beginning of a project, “What would the headline be if you had to do a press release right now about this project?” If you can summarize in five words what the project is in an impactful way, I believe you are forcing the person in front of you to keep everything as simple as possible.
MM: Personally speaking, what’s the most recent simple customer experience that inspired or impressed you?
JH: As a French guy moving from New York to London, I have to say I’ve been positively surprised by the experience that I can have on the Tube. The subway in London is contactless; I am using my credit card to pay for my transportation daily. I find it very, very easy to use; seamless and straightforward, too. I will give a big kudos to the subway in London in terms of customer and transportation experience.
MM: What are some of the biggest mistakes that brands make with regards to simplifying?
JH: Brands need to be clear on why they are simplifying—is it related to their brand purpose? I remind myself daily that simplification is a journey, not the destination.
Sometimes, I think organizations miss the full customer journey; they simplify things by only looking at a specific portion of the customer experience. To be successful, brands must continuously reconnect that with their brand purpose, brand platform, and customer experience.
MM: Any recent examples of a difficult decision that you made at Formula E, that you had to make for the sake of simplicity?
JH: The first example is customer-facing, and the second one is more behind-the-scenes.
We are a young organization, so we need to work on brand execution and brand distinctiveness. In the past, when someone attended one of our events, they saw a lot of different logos and hashtags. What I have done is to try to simplify and streamline the brand identity. It’s a work in progress, to ensure we are not communicating multiple different types of versions of what Formula E is at our events or on TV.
The second example, which is more behind-the-scenes, is that I used to receive numerous dashboards to measure the performance of the marketing media communication event strategy. So, I tried to build something quite common in consulting, a kind of scorecard aggregating through KPI and metrics, so we can measure what we are doing.
These elements are two examples of when I have had to convince people and push them on the “why” we are simplifying.
MM: What does “simplicity” mean to you?
JH: As a customer, it means clarity, seamless experience, and lack of friction. As a leader, simplicity is a kind of humility and efficiency combined with disruption.
MM: What advice would you give other brands trying to simplify?
JH: As I mentioned earlier, to simplify a new project or mindset, you have to start with the brand vision and the customer journey.
MM: Anything else?
JH: I learned to be a Simplifier from working in commercial and marketing roles at both big organizations and in startups. To be a Simplifier, it goes back to the journey, not the destination.
However, I don’t think simplicity is solely a professional topic. People need to apply simplicity in their personal lives, too. We are all busy but, in the end, simplifying and prioritizing are useful tools for life.
MM: Thank you, Jerome.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.