Anand Mahindra’s clever Brand Movement for coping with hellacious change

The most powerful Indian brand taps StrawberryFrog to design brand-fueled Movement Marketing that may, momentarily, inspire you to join in and Rise amidst the  the challenges of modern life.

It’s one of the great pleasures of life. But the act of innovating and creation shouldn’t be a limiting experience. This is why Anand Mahindra, Chairman of Mahindra incited the Rise movement to transform his corporation, his team mates, his customers and his consumers.

Rise Anthem Film

The Mahindra Group, is an Indian multinational conglomerate headquartered in Mumbai, with operations in over 100 countries around the globe. The group has a presence in aerospace, agribusiness, aftermarket, automotive, components, construction equipment, defense, energy, farm equipment, finance and insurance, industrial equipment, information technology, leisure and hospitality, logistics, real estate, retail, and two wheelers. It is considered to be one of the most reputable Indian industrial corporations. With over 40,000 employees, decision making had grown more convoluted and branches of the organization had become misaligned. Over the years, Mahindra had built in lots of procedures, and for many good reasons. But, those procedures had also slowed it down.

Anand sought to evolve Mahindra’s culture to be nimble, innovative, and customer-centered. He knew it required a journey to align and galvanize all employees. His leadership team began with a search for purpose together with StrawberryFrog. Over the course of several months, the Mahindra team led Ruzbeh Irani, who worked with Scott Goodson and his StrawberryFrog team to learn about the needs of everyone, from factory workers to scientists, external partners, customers, and investors. Together they defined and distilled the purpose of the company, paring it down to three simple pillars that underpinned the “RISE” movement: Use your ingenuity. Accept no limits. Drive positive change. The key strategy we used to align all the different interests and activate a solution which was good for all, was to focus on an idea on the rise in culture, to buttress the RISE movement idea. And this is what everyone could get behind. The motivation was pride, not dictated from the top down. And instead of plastering this new slogan on motivational posters, the leadership team began by quietly using it to start guiding their own decisions. The goal was to demonstrate this idea in action, not talk about it. StrawberryFrog designed management training and role playing sessions over several month across all companies. Projects were selected across channels to highlight the pillar of RISE and Mahindra teams were rewarded for their alignment with the movement. Then we went global, involving their largest offices in key markets like the USA, Chile, Europe and South Africa. A comprehensive internal RISE team and platform was developed to help Mahindra employees be proactive with their customer requests and innovate around problems in an agile way.

After the launch of RISE, StrawberryFrog led large-scale interactive workshops to onboard employees to RISE. Post the workshop, we worked to develop Mahindra Leadership University, and created the Leadership Competencies, keeping RISE in mind.

The 3 Rise Pillars were divided into 5 Leadership Characteristics, and 16 attributes. Rise Behaviors were defined for each of the attributes. Mahindra integrated the Rise Behaviors into HR so that RISE emerged in the life of employees.

As a part of this intervention, the Performance Management System was redesigned, the Recruitment process was revamped.  Interview questions during recruitment were recreated to evaluate talent on the RISE Behaviors. Development Centers using RISE evaluated Leadership competencies in employees.

Currently, Mahindra is working on a journey which is designed to bring RISE to the forefront by facilitating small behavioral changes in the lives of employees to enable them to RISE. After the introduction of RISE, Mahindra saw a significant shift in employees behaviors. This conclusion is not merely a daily observation, but it is indicated by the data we collected. Some of the indicators of this change are mentioned above:

The Mahindra Cares survey measures the engagement levels of our officers. Our Employee engagement scores has increased year on year from FY15 to FY18.

MCARES Score for FY15 was 3.76, for FY16 was 3.92, for FY17 was 4.05 and FY18 was 4.13.

The Future Leaders Program was rolled out, an Integrated Talent management and Leadership development intervention building a Leadership Talent pool. The FLP was an 18 month developmental journey in collaboration with Yale School of Management and IMD Lausanne.

Apart from FLP, we have seen a rise in the strength of our talent pipeline and as a group we have been able to achieve a target of having succession cover more than 60% of our critical positions which is the highest level of achievement as per our defined targets.

Mahindra employees have become more sensitive to the 3 RISE Pillars and 5 Leadership Characteristics and the employees are living RISE. The RISE 360 survey measures this, which has reached more than 16,000 employees with more than 50% of the leadership. The analysis of the data points showed that the employees are rated high on sensitive, trusting and trustworthy. The data shows that employees are high on whole brain thinking and are highly focused on driving positive change.

Downtown Dubai Branding Created by StrawberryFrog New York

StrawberryFrog, a NYC-based marketing agency, has been responsible for the branding of the most admired marquee brands in Dubai, UAE, and MENA. Their repertoire includes Emirates Airline and it’s famous motto: “Hello Tomorrow”; Dubai South and it’s tagline “The City of You”; and FAB with “Grow Stronger.”

The marketing agency was asked by EMAAR to create and develop all the branding, communications, and advertising to launch and build Downtown Dubai. Under the creative direction of Scott Goodson, the teams at StrawberryFrog and Swedish photographer Mikael Jansson developed the following digital, print and outdoor campaign for Downtown Dubai.

Below are some of the assets of this global campaign introducing the brand motto: “Centre of Now” which ran in Dubai, MENA and globally to brand and advertise Downtown Dubai as the flagship mega-development by Emaar Properties. At its heart is Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, The Dubai Mall, The Address Hotels and many more experiences.



Marketers Should Focus on Relevance and Stop Thinking About Loyalty.

“Brand relevance or customer loyalty?” you ask. Good question. Loyalty marketing as it has been called is being eclipsed by the new era of Movement Marketing. The old way was based on the idea that people will keep buying the same stuff from a company with incentives. Yet, according to recent consumer research from Kantar Retail, 71% of consumers now claim that loyalty incentive-programs don’t make them loyal at all – a marketing agency hired by a brand needs to be more innovative than that.

Does your customer retention strategy depend on “buying” loyalty with rewards or discounts? Does loyalty cost you a lot? Does it tell people they get something for nothing.

Rather, with the rise of digital interception strategies, people are increasingly buying why a brand is relevant to their lives and their unique needs at the moment they Google you.

Consumer research from Accenture shows that in the U.S. market alone, companies are losing $1 trillion in annual revenues to their competitors because they are not consistently relevant enough. Loyalty remains important, but this finding indicates that the future of marketing — and, in the big picture, many businesses — depends on serving a customer’s most relevant needs in the moment.

So how do you build a business based on being relevant to the consumer?

It starts with a different definition of relevance according to a recent article in HBR. Abraham Maslow’s oft-quoted “hierarchy of needs” — first published in 1943 — provides a good start. Maslow set out our psychological needs and motivations. His framework also offers a model for rethinking the traditional four P’s of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion. Most companies today are guided by the latter but ought to be focused on the needs.

Brands basing their marketing on the four P’s target a static customer archetype (e.g., a high-minded customer for branded hummus or a value-conscious customer for a store brand). The reality is that there is no such customer archetype in reality, according to the HBR article.  Everyone’s needs change and vary depending on time and context. But most of all they are shopping with their phones in hand and googling their needs along the way. Simply creating awareness for your brand is a start, but how relevant is it? And how relevant is it through the customer journey?

Flywheel, my passion point, provides a good example of what this looks like in practice. I am part of a community for indoor spinners and fitness freaks. Flywheel’s purpose aligns with my values of health and a positive environment. But more than a purpose which is very theoretical, Flywheel has a built-in movement happening which I am gladly a part of. Not only that but I am rallying my friends to be part of this as well. This experience is relevant to me, creates a sense of pride and, to be honest, the offering is price insensitive to those who show up early Saturday morning. Flywheel is not a fitness brand, it’s a movement cult. Their words: “We’re challenging. We’re intensely fun. We’re not like anyone else. Our boundary-breaking, performance-focused stadium cycling and precision training have an 8-year track record of results. Get ready to build your most limitless body—in and out of the studio.”

The instructor, in this case Eve who happened to do a Podcast with me recently, helps me and my friends achieve our emotional and physical objectives and inspires each of us to achieve things we never thought possible.  The movement, the experience, the brand content all play role in helping me feel good about myself every time the brand and I meet, which tends to be very early in the morning. Nevertheless, I am thrilled to be there. Compare that to your classic gym experience.

Consider Tribe, the hummus brand owned by food giant Nestle, and Athenos owned by Kraft. Consumers typically associate big food companies with mass-production methods and plastic packaging. Companies like these are more typically accustomed to using traditional 4 P’s approaches such as pricing and promotions to attract and retain customers. But a few years back, Tribe and Athenos found itself contending with an category disruptor brand, Sabra, that decided to forego the 8% of the foodie consumers in the United States and instead devised a brand movement strategy working with our advertising agency in NYC, StrawberryFrog, that emphasized food intervention.

Sabra pivoted toward a focus on customer relevance to 92% of Americans. Sabra found that consumers often take pride in brands that are set on changing the world vs products with a connection to an authentic national tradition — whether Greek home made hummus or Israeli round table eating culture.  Recognizing that hummus was much more appealing as a verb rather than a noun, Sabra turned this insight into a market advantage that propelled them to over 60 market share, making it one of the most successful food brands in the United States.

The company then set out to broaden its portfolio with offerings such as Salsa and other dips and educate consumers on different ways to eat hummus, which brought in new consumers and grew the brand even further.

These targeted initiatives translated into increased sales. Sabra is a noteworthy example of a company purposefully pivoting to an approach that extends beyond its norms of product marketing to be relevant to massive group of customers.

Another movement is for the CVS Pharmacy, the retail pharmacy of CVS Health. CVS Pharmacy  moved beyond a purely transactional retail model where customers fill prescriptions; instead, the company is focusing on helping their customers on their path to overall better health. In this way, customers share the company’s movement, the extension of its purpose. It helps satisfy their desires to feel cared for, and helps build upon the trusted relationship most customers have with their pharmacist.

Extending far outside the traditional retail paradigm, CVS is embracing technologies including predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to send their customers personalized reminders to refill or take their medications, making the entire brand experience better and make the CVS brand more relevant by taking a stand for protecting one’s health and well-being.

To succeed in this era of relevance, marketers and companies must be continuously willing to abandon the old. In the case of Jim Beam, StrawberryFrog devised the movement ‘Make History’ which helped the brand become relevant to an entirely new generation of consumers. The brand took a stand against the patriarchy and for equality, and named Mila Kunis as the face of this movement. Incidentally, the Jim Beam CMO was named CMO of Uber this week.

As customer journeys and expectations shift, companies should strive to enhance their  ability to engage with customers in the most relevant ways. Often, the greatest roadblock is a company’s lack of willingness to transform their mindsets. To overcome that barrier, smart companies have shifted from a product-focused mindset to brand-fueled movement marketing.

SunTrust Bank offers a good example. Instead of thinking of itself merely as a bank, SunTrust purposefully developed the brand fueled movement ‘onUp‘ together with StrawberryFrog. ‘onUp’ is aligned with what is on people’s minds –– financial stress. At last count, 3.7 Million participants have rallied around the stand against financial stress and for financial confidence. SunTrust has increased and broadened the relevance factor and in the process attracted new customers, including a new generation of customers. The site functions as an organic SEO publishing platform which increases the brand’s domain authority to the new truth seeking consumer who more often than not Googles what they’re going to buy before they buy.

advertising agency in nyc

Today’s mobile-enabled consumers are constantly evaluating and re-evaluating their purchasing decisions. Traditional brands are relying on advertising provided by an old-school marketing agency and loyalty programs at a time when movement brands are becoming more relevant and where disruptive brands are intercepting consumers in the customer journey. Today, consumers are choosing the brands most relevant to them. Not only that, they’re pay a premium –– just like me and my Flywheel movement which provides me and my friends with a profound degree of relevance beyond the vigorous fitness.  Doesn’t this sound like the recipe for driving loyalty more than ever?

Why Employer Branding is Better as a Movement

The economy is strong. Companies compete for the best talent, some with the help of a marketing agency or branding design agency and others without. More so today than since the early 2000s according to the Harvard Business Review. Due to new and emerging tools like social networks and online communities, 78 percent of job seekers say that ratings and reviews from those on the inside are influential when deciding where to work (according to Glassdoor).
          What are your employees saying about you on social media? What will top talent discover when they research your company? The answers mean the difference between wooing or losing employees in today’s changing world of recruitment and job searches.
          Having a strong Employer Brand Movement should be the modern tool in your recruiting strategy. If you don’t have it, your competition might. The approach to building a strong employer brand has changed over the last few years—as has its impact on hiring and who’s responsible for overseeing it. This led to the development of an Employee Value Proposition, which defined the key benefits offered by the company as an employer, and the production of employer brand guidelines by a branding design agency, which aimed to bring greater consistency to the company’s recruitment advertising. Many employers and recruiters believe running an advertising campaign so people know your name builds an effective brand or that putting up an Instagram, Linkedin or Facebook page. But it’s much more than that.
          Times have changed. The rise of social media has made companies a great deal more transparent. People are far more likely to trust a company based on what its employees have to say than on its recruitment advertising. This means that talent attraction relies far more heavily on employee engagement and advocacy.
          StrawberryFrog is change. We deliver Movement Inside your company. It begins with using our skills as a marketing agency to define the purpose for your brand that employees believe in, and then activating that purpose with a brand movement inside the company. The movement is a cause that people want to belong to. To employees, a Movement Inside inspires motivations, trust, creativity and passion in ways that top down mandates simply cannot do. Movement Inside builds pipelines of talent for tomorrow, and rallies current employees around a cause that can change actions and habits and in the process transform the company.
          Traditional corporate purpose statements can sound like a lot of blah blah blah and fall flat. Work without purpose is like life without love. It’s not surprising that organizations are increasingly choosing purpose-driven employer brands. People feel more passionate about what they do if they feel they can make a difference, and purposeful companies like charismatic people draw attention and command greater respect and loyalty. But the vanilla statement that sounds more like a ‘committee resolution’ than a compelling statement of intent will fall flat. This is all the more reason why Movement Inside generated by a branding design agency like us is better than traditional purpose branding solutions.
          Movement Inside cases that have enhanced employer branding by StrawberryFrog include Make History for Jim Beam, a movement against the patriarchy and for equality; Hello Tomorrow for Emirates Airline, a movement to make the world smaller and thereby reduce misunderstandings between people; Rise for Mahindra, a movement to accept no limitations, using your ingenuity to drive positive change; and onUp for SunTrust Bank, a movement to help Americans move from financial stress to confidence.

          No matter what your company’s size, location, or industry is, you’ll find that Movement Inside by the StrawberryFrog marketing agency will build the foundation for modern employer branding success.


Movement Inside will
1. Help retain top employees and recruit new ones
2. Reduce costs
3. Increase motivation, trust and creativity
4. Improve employee engagement
5. Increase employee productivity
6. Transform the company

Food Disruption: Amazon’s Whole Foods starts to steal Trader Joe’s shoppers.

Disruption is coming to every category, including ones which were unmoveable until very recently. Whole Foods under Amazon management is an example of how entrepreneurship can work to bridge the gap for entrenched industries (like food) that sometimes have unsustainable supply chains, and rethink them for the future. The problem, for the famous companies in the food industry working with advertising agencies, in addition to the rise of technology and change, is how to keep the marketing so solid that people won’t have to leave “the real thing” for the “new new thing.”

Overall a very timely opportunity for disruptive brands in the US. Consumer-wise, while there’s been a move to unbranded, “no name” products, there’s a wave of new loyalties that buyers are forming to these new brands. Almost just a mass upset of traditional brands in favor of outcropping brands that stand for something, ignite a movement, and rethink the product categories they work in. Brands like Whole Foods and Fresh Direct are right in that space — legacy product, ripe for disruption, utility impact that can be communicated with the right branding, huge unmovable market to sell into.

If you are one of the large companies facing disruption, how can movement marketing as a tool fueled by advertising agencies help grocery brands really hit that balance well?

When bought Whole Foods last year, many of of us expected a wave of change to hit the grocery business. A year ago, investors dumped shares in Kroger, Sprouts Farmers Market and even Walmart over fears of the disruption that lay ahead. Now, it seems that analysts believe that it will be years before Whole Foods becomes a major player in the $800 billion industry.

While the strongest brands in the category remain behind the walls that they’ve built to protect them, there are some signs of change according to a recent Bloomberg article. For one, the Amazon effect is boosting Whole Foods, which had been losing ground to rivals as organic food went mainstream. In more than 100 places around the U.S., the upscale grocer gained foot traffic at the expense of Trader Joe’s, Walgreen and Dollar Tree Stores in the past year, according to Sense360, a Los Angeles company that tracks location data from millions of smartphone users.

Sense360 Chief Executive Officer Eli Portnoy told Bloomberg News that national grocers aren’t hurting yet but says Amazon is getting traction at the “micro” level. “We’re at the very beginning stages, and these things take time,” he says. “These findings show there will be an impact.

Large enterprises that built walls around their markets, are finding themselves being disrupted by the speed and growth of startups.  StrawberryFrog, who distinguish themselves from more traditional advertising agencies, are entrepreneurial Movement Makers. We empower large companies and brands to disrupt the disruptors and grow at the speed of startups. StrawberryFrog is change. Low overhead. Low BS. High agility. High impact. High growth capability that scales.