With a company like Dropbox, there is a unique challenge of making sure its brand resonates with both businesses as well as individual consumers. The company’s Chief Communications Officer, Lin-Hua Wu, breaks down how to navigate this task, especially with the lines between home and work being so blurred during these strange times.
With the current remote work environment, there is also a new challenge of balancing positive stories about the brand with what’s going on externally. Lin-Hua emphasizes the increased need to be tone appropriate and use empathy when dealing with these issues.
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About the Host:
Host: DOUG SIMON
Guest: LIN-HUA WU
DOUG: Lin-Hua, thanks so much for joining us.
LIN-HUA: Hi Doug, thanks for inviting me to be here.
DOUG: So, Dropbox serves both the B2B and B2C audience. Can you maybe share a little bit about what your service involves, as well as some of the different challenges you face marketing to those different audiences?
LIN-HUA: Sure. We are a software collaboration platform, and we are file, sync and share, so you can store and share all your files and your most important content on Dropbox, but we also capture the collaboration and communication around those files. So, you can create things in Dropbox, you can pull in Slack and G-Suite. We have a strong ecosystem of best of breed players and you can really create and communicate and collaborate in Dropbox. I think for the question of how do we reach our B2C customers our consumer customers and our business customers, it’s a really unique challenge and opportunity I think because we have over 500 million registered users on Dropbox, and we know that most people actually who are active on Dropbox use us in business settings. They use us for work. And because we started out as a consumer play where people were really storing their things in Dropbox, and we’ve evolved into a product where people are doing work in Dropbox, we find that there are individuals who are freelancers, for example, and there’s companies that have wall to wall Dropbox. And it’s such a large swath of customers, and we really need to find ways where we reach all of them. So, I think what we want to do now in the COVID time is really remind people that the lines between work and home are so blurred that we can service all those needs. I think when you think about business customers, they do care more about security and control. So often you’re marketing toward a CIO who is buying Dropbox for example for their company, and they’re going to care a lot about what is the admin controls, what is a function where I can have sharing settings and I can do that from a centralized location, and what are the security controls. I think consumers really care about ease of use, and I think Dropbox is simple by design, and it’s really easy to use. So, we really need to target and segment by audience like our marketing campaigns and how we talk to them. But I think at the very high level we want to get the point across is that Dropbox can move very very well between your home and your work life.
DOUG: Now you’re always tone appropriate, and that actually takes on a whole new meaning when you work for an organization like Dropbox whose services have been in more demand because of COVID, yet So many people are going through difficult times. How do you navigate the positive story about what the brand’s doing with the all the other stories going on?
LIN-HUA: So, I don’t think there’s one recipe to follow, but it is a lot about making sure you understand what the external environment is like. With COVID, the Black Lives Matter movement and all of the killings of innocent black people, and in California at least there’s the seasonal wildfires that are going on. So, I think it’s really important to make sure you’re paying attention to what’s happening externally. Really listening to your employees and making sure that you use your heart and your empathy when you’re communicating.
DOUG: when you talk about the social justice movement, your CEO has been very active making significant contributions to Black Lives Matter. Is that something that the owners, leaders should just go with what they feel, or does it depend based on what your customer base is, and how do you navigate that?
LIN-HUA: To me it is a human need and problem. Social justice in this country affects every single person, even if they’re not aware of it, and that is my personal belief. That is, I think what Dropbox believes. So, my recommendation is yes leader should do the right thing, what they believe personally, but they also have to realize that this will affect… if they don’t believe they’re effective it does affect all of their customers, or constituents, their employees. And I’m really happy and proud that Dropbox has raised over $1.5 million through different matching programs, my CEO has been very active and upfront about that.
DOUG: You also speak about the need to communicate both externally and internally, and even the point you spoke about early, many of your employees are in California dealing with wildfires, lots of challenges, in Louisiana they’ve got hurricanes just recently. What’s your strategy there that you could share?
LIN-HUA: internal communications I think has just gained in prevalence for companies across industries. In this country Silicon Valley has definitely an active employee population, and I spend quite a bit of time actually with my internal communications team and thinking about how we best communicate with our 14 offices around the globe. People really are having life problems now, Like all of us. Work is one aspect of that but there are parents with children who are at school online, or very young children, they haven’t had daycare. Things have been really disrupted. I think again it’s empathy and communication transparency and really figuring out how to best work and support employees because ultimately, we want them to be healthy and in mind and body so that they can do their best work.
DOUG: We can give a little bit of a scoop. I know you’re planning to embark on an increased marketing campaign. What can you tell us about that, and how all these factors weigh in to strategy you’re choosing?
LIN-HUA: We do have a master brand campaign planned to launch in the fall, and we’re working actively now on the creative for that and the tagline in the media spend and buy. And it is interesting because when you think about what would resonate with our consumers and our business audiences, we want to make sure that it’s tone appropriate. If you go to flip and happy and maybe a little funny is that not going to land well? And I think it’s important to realize that this is a serious moment in our history. We have the election coming up, and we don’t want it to be a downer because people had enough of that, but we also have to hit that right tone. So, I think again, there is no silver bullet and magic bullet for this, but it’s a lot about judgment and feedback and listening to what we think would really resonate.
DOUG: I’m sure the audience was listening to you and getting some great advice and tips from that. Thanks so much for being with us.
LIN-HUA: Thanks so much, Doug. It was great being here.