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A CMO’s View: Xerox CMO Shares Strategy Behind Re-Branding One Of The World’s Top Brands


Charged with the launch of Xerox's "Work Can Work Better" campaign, CMO John Kennedy shares what he's learned and what he hopes to achieve.

 In the same way Kleenex has been synonymous with tissue, Xerox has owned the word for printed copies for more than half a century.
This year, the company launched a new branding campaign to expand its place — and the perception of its brand — across the several industries it serves.
“The new strategy and campaign idea — Work Can Work Better — places Xerox over a domain we are calling work in the broadest sense, which includes the evolution of the brand in a range of different industries from customer care to transportation,” says Xerox CMO John Kennedy.
Xerox’s new branding strategy involves an extensive ad campaign that includes print, TV and digital and the relaunch of Xerox.com.
“We believe that improving the flow of work is at the core of enterprise transformation and global progress,” says Kennedy. “It puts us squarely in the center of work, technology, productivity and efficiency conversations — right were where we belong.”
After serving as a Vice President of marketing for IBM Global Business Services, Kennedy joined Xerox in August of 2014. Since being named CMO, Kennedy has led the launch of Xerox’s new branding strategy. Today, he was generous enough to share what’s he learned during his first year at Xerox and what he hopes to achieve as the brand’s marketing lead.
Get To Know:

John Kennedy

CMO @ Xerox


1. Brands must be based on enduring ideas, not on the businesses that a company participates in.
2. Partner with different segments of the business when developing a brand idea, such as sales and HR.
  • Selling cycles are long — so it should always be clear how and where your marketing activity is contributing to what part of the selling cycle at what time.
  • Employees are often the face of the organization, so it’s important to enroll your employee population in everything that you do.
3. Role model change and transformation must occur within your own organization.

Amy Gesenhues: You were named Xerox CMO in August of last year. How was your first year with the brand?
John Kennedy: I’ve learned so much in one year, but the biggest thing I noticed was that today’s Xerox is essentially the result of two companies that had come together — the original document technology company coupled with the newer services side that came from the acquisition of Affiliated Computer Services (ACS).
It’s well-known that Xerox is, and has been, a company in transition. My role as CMO is to lead the marketing and communications team in supporting that transition by developing strategic and user-centric content that attracts the interest of C-level executives, and influencing purchasing decisions reflective of the buyer’s journey today.
Amy Gesenhues: How do define the Xerox brand?
John Kennedy: Xerox is a brand and company that is in transformation. At its core, Xerox is an iconic company, almost 75 years old, with a legacy in technology. It is something that made Xerox such an important part of business history and led to incredible name recognition.
Today, we compete in a large and growing $400-billion market, with most of that growth coming from our services segment. And this growth is driven by the significant amount of change that’s happening not only in business but in the world — in healthcare, in transportation, in financial services.
As the business environment becomes more complicated and technologies shift, companies are increasingly looking for Xerox to help them manage their complex business processes and drive greater productivity.
Amy Gesenhues: What was the motivation behind the new brand strategy?
John Kennedy: Despite already being recognized as a leading global brand (Interbrand 2014 Global Best Brands Study), we have a significant opportunity to increase our brand awareness, consideration and advocacy — particularly on the services side of the business. It represents a gap in brand perception versus brand reality.
That knowledge of the perception gap directly influenced the creation of a new brand strategy that defines what makes Xerox authentic, differentiates us from the competition and makes us relevant to business and public sector leaders.
Our new strategy is built around ideas that are relevant to our entire business. But what’s most important about the new strategy is that it isn’t about document technology or services or anything else that we market or sell. This is about our customers and the shared belief that business shouldn’t be so much work.
Amy Gesenhues: Did any other company functions, beyond marketing, play a role in helping shape Xerox’s new brand strategy?
John Kennedy: The senior team was involved from the very beginning of our work on this strategy, and that was key to gaining their buy-in and support.
In our experience, when you show the C-suite and sales that you focused on learning more about the customer and in turn can speak to them in a more authentic, meaningful way, they’re apt to follow. We were fortunate that was the case with this strategy shift. The entire organization is excited about and inspired by the new strategy and expression.
It’s been almost a year-long process of collaboration, review and discussion. We’ve been fortunate to have the kind of time that’s been provided to work with the senior team and the Xerox Board of Directors, as well.
Our goal is that all employees understand, embrace and communicate our purpose — both what is Xerox and why is the work we do important. We’ll lean on our senior leaders to speak with as many employees as possible to get them energized and activated as brand ambassadors.
Amy Gesenhues: I know Xerox has rolled out an extensive campaign to launch the new brand strategy. What channels are you leveraging?
John Kennedy: In addition to TV and print advertising, we’re also revamping Xerox.com with new content types and focus areas at the forefront of the redesign.

Highly visual, shareable stories emphasize Xerox clients and their industries in a more personalized, easy-to-understand presentation. Dozens of new responsive and intelligent pages are devoted to Xerox’s services offerings to better reflect the company’s evolving business strategy.
We’re also examining our approaches with vehicles like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and continue to take risks, and meet and inspire our clients and prospects whenever they’re gathering and having discussions.

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