In 2019, TE Connectivity Social Media Lead Alex Kalbli and her team started to look at a new global brand platform.
Alex said they wanted to understand how several macro consumer trends were shifting the way their engineer audiences live and work, and how that was going to impact their go-to-market strategy. Additionally, the previous brand platforms were focused on product superiority, potentially making the TE brand less relevant or competitive for today’s engineer.
Alex and her team started researching in September and then pitched the idea to leadership in October. From that research and those conversations, they developed their new platform around Every Connection Counts, amplifying the brand’s long-standing tagline — which changed the way their company engaged with their audience across social media.
According to Alex, the inspiration behind Every Connection Counts came from the realization that, while technology is advancing, people were feeling less connected.
“The idea of connection is so relevant in today’s society,” she said. “Even before COVID-19 amplified that, humans were feeling more disconnected with each other as we replaced face-to-face time with tech.”
The brand refresh focused on the human benefit of TE parts and innovation. It positions TE as an industrial tech leader that can extend from part supplier, to partner and innovator. TE connects technology for the human connections they empower and is committed to nurturing the potential of every single one. These connections bring people together and move humanity forward.
Alex and her team decided to focus on using their business to make a positive impact and help their customers feel more connected.
TE Connectivity has a 75-year brand heritage around the globe reaching their engineer audiences. In partnership with these engineers, they’ve designed and manufactured products that have literally changed the world. But they anchored their brand on their product superiority, rather than forming a human relationship engineer-to-engineer. The decision to refresh the global TE Connectivity brand platform was a strategic business growth initiative to differentiate the company from product-focused competitors in a meaningful way by tying technology + humanity.
With that focus, Alex said the new brand platform also levels back to their products and solutions.
“We manufacture the sensor and connector technology that is designed into countless applications transmitting data, power, and signal, and without those solutions, connection for humanity wouldn’t be possible,” she said. “So, it’s all about how every connection counts between products and technology, but also the connection between humans throughout the world that the technology enables.”
As they were developing the messaging of the ‘Every Connection Counts’ brand platform, Alex wanted to make sure it resonated with their engineer audience as well.
“We did focus groups with the messaging internally, as well as lots of brainstorming and creative ideation,” she said. “We have 8,000 engineers who work for us. So, we wanted to pressure test that messaging with the engineers and see if they felt the messaging resonated with them.”
Then, their agency of record ensured the messaging could resonate with their wider audience across social media, and that people didn’t have to be engineers to get the messaging.
Once the messaging was locked down, Alex and her team got to work on the content and images they would use to launch the campaign across their digital and social channels.
“We wanted to create new and original photography, because that resonates better socially than stock photos,” she said. “Then, we also wanted to use that photography to take our marketing materials to the next level and refresh everything we currently had out there.”
They set up a big photo shoot in their Pennsylvania factories to feature the people who work there every day and how they’re pushing the company forward. Then, they partnered with their agency to execute a higher production video shoot where the creative pieces for Every Connection Counts really came to life.
They officially launched the new platform in late October on TE Orange Day, an annual, internal event around displaying employee pride that coincides with an end of fiscal year webcast with CEO Terrence Curtin.
Alex said it was a priority for their team that the brand platform had a cohesive look across the website and social platforms.
They started planning out how they were going to update the brand’s cover photos and utilize their new library of images featuring their employees. Altogether, when they launched Every Connection Counts, they had approximately 60 assets, optimized for a dynamic digital customer experience. Then, through December, they posted at least twice a week through the first phase of the campaign.
“We had a paid strategy that went along with that,” said Alex. “We were doing programmatic buys as well as dark paid and boosted organic for social. We wanted to make sure we are serving different creative experiences, like a ‘choose your own adventure’ across different social platforms.”
They ended up testing shorter form, 15-second videos on Instagram and longer form videos for YouTube and LinkedIn — so they could meet their audience with different experiences on the different social platforms.
They also tested multiple creative variants from headlines to video story narrative, targeted to different audience segments through dark paid social. Understanding which storyline resonated with their segmented audiences allowed them to optimize their paid strategy and lessons learned for future creative production and social campaigns.
Once they launched with those initial assets, they started thinking about how they could create another brand campaign that leveled up to Every Connection Counts.
Alex and her team were given insights into an employee story from one of their engineers in California who makes inventions for his son with cerebral palsy — like a customized power wheelchair.
“We immediately thought it was a good embodiment of the extension of Every Connection Counts campaign,” said Alex. “It was important for us to be able to wrap up other stories within the brand redesign and this was a perfect place to start.”
So, Alex and her team connected with the engineer and worked with him to tell his story across their channels under the Every Connection Counts brand platform.
Once COVID-19 started impacting communities around the country, Alex and her team worked to incorporate their response messaging into an extension of Every Connection Counts.
“We pushed out on what we’re doing from a global perspective, whether it was 3D printing masks or partnering with Ford on respirators,” said Alex.
With COVID-19 in mind, Alex and her team are working on the next variation of the brand campaign — with even more of a social-first focus.
“This variation is focusing on the reconnection of humans after COVID and what we’re calling ‘the new normal,’” she said. “We have been able to use Every Connection Counts and make it relevant and optimized for the current climate.”
Throughout the phases of the campaign, Alex said the overall sentiment has been overwhelmingly positive — not only with their audiences, but with employees and leadership as well.
“We’ve seen an influx of employees using the hashtag on their social content when they share a brand or employee story,” she said. “We’ve also learned we can deviate from being a parts supplier and move into more of an innovator role without losing our brand identity — quite the opposite, it’s creating meaningful differentiation for the brand against our competitors. This campaign was a bit of a deviation from what we’ve done in the past with less focus on the product and more on the story. We’ve been able to see the positive effects of that, and we’re actually gaining brand awareness.”
For anyone putting together a similar brand platform, Alex emphasized the importance of using data and metrics to prove the value of what you’re doing.
“Getting executive buy-in for something like this isn’t always easy,” she said. “But, what made this such a positive campaign for us was using the data and metrics to prove out our theories. We have the analytics behind what we put into the market socially, and we know it’s working. That gives us a leg to stand on as we push this brand redesign forward.”
She said the research they did early on into the macro trends impacting engineers and the backlash against tech and the disconnectedness throughout the world helped them flesh out the vision for this campaign.
Alex also said it’s critical to keep in mind that refreshing a brand platform is about celebrating your brand and what they do — even if it means letting the conversation around your product take a backseat.
“I’ve pushed a lot for the storytelling we can do on social media,” she said. “When we did the campaign with our engineer and his son, for example, we didn’t even mention the products in the film or video. That is something I think maybe five years ago was pretty revolutionary, and still is for a lot of BtoB brands. We’re telling the stories of how we’re innovating and changing the world and making that the star of the content. And, we see the data really supports that.”