Nobody likes SPAM. Unless you’re talking about a specific brand of canned, cooked meat, then yes, it has some loyal fans.
Now, back to the other spam – the annoying messages you receive midweek from your bank and dismiss immediately. “Argh! I’m a vegan! Stop sending me discounts for a steak house…” you think aloud as you trash the notification from your mobile banking application. Sometimes, you wonder if these service providers even know you at all.
So, as part of Crayon Data’s vision to simplify the world’s choices, maya.ai was born (or more precisely, reborn) in 2019 as the world’s first AI personalization engine on a mission – to understand human tastes and kill spam. maya.ai combines internal customer data with external knowledge of merchants and retailers to provide a TasteMatch score between every customer and a product, service, or merchant. It crafts unique experiences for every customer across the entire journey. That means across digital assets and even geographies!
By the beginning of 2020, we were seeing fantastic traction with our clients on the maya.ai platform. Global and regional banks and credit card providers had maya.ai deeply embedded into their online offers portals and personal concierge services. maya.ai‘s recommendations saw higher offer take-up rates. With dining, lifestyle, and travel being the three hottest categories. Our field sales team, of five to six salespersons spread over three continents, were having sales conversations with prospects day in and day out. At this point, we started to notice some inconsistencies in communication that planted the idea for a brand refresh.
Refreshing the brand to create tighter communication
When it comes to sales, everyone has their own style. Every salesperson has his or her own pitch to seal the deal. But it’s absolutely crucial that the core message remains consistent for all. When you have a complex enterprise product, a multitude of requirements, and questions from different prospects, it’s difficult to sell well in the absence of a clear value proposition.
We knew maya.ai was an AI personalization platform. But what does it do? That’s where the story started to fork into different branches. It didn’t bode well for our overall brand positioning. On top of that, sales processes became lengthy as there wasn’t a single digital source of information that our sales folks could rely on.
In February 2020, we decided to embark on an exercise to culminate and crystallize the entire organization’s knowledge of the product. Into one epic brand refresh. The objectives were clear:
1) Create a global brand that resonates with the audience from any geography, right from Asia-Pacific and the Middle East to Europe (and even the Amazonian rainforests)
2) Sharpen brand positioning to differentiate us from competitors
3) Define clear brand guidelines and templates to standardize collaterals to help deals move faster
4) Compile a single source of truth where sales and front-enders can refer to anytime, anywhere.
And in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brought massive changes in consumer behavior and business priorities. We knew that now, more than ever was the time for a refresh.
The right and left-brain approach
The brand refresh wasn’t about reinventing maya.ai from scratch. We had good building blocks in place. We needed to rather, take a look back at the brand, who she was, what was her purpose, what she wanted to sound, and look like. We used the two halves of the human brain as a framework:
1) The left-brain driven content track: a logical pursuit of the facts and figures, and
2) The right-brained creative track: a brave journey that took maya.ai to the far ends of her brand identity
For the content track, we spoke to content owners and subject matter experts from our data science, engineering, product, and customer success teams. As a company that still prides itself on its initial mission of understanding and utilizing data, we wanted to tell our story with numbers and facts. Each team, be it data science or customer success, had incredible numbers that spoke volumes about the work done and success we’ve had with our clients. We know the age-old adage actions speak louder than words. But we reckon in this digital day and age, data speaks louder than words!
On the creative front, the marketing team spent three full days huddled in a meeting room in our Chennai Crayon Box. We brainstormed on ways to refresh the maya.ai brand. We adopted outside-in thinking and looked at competitors, industry best practices of organizations in other verticals to draw inspiration. We went through a lot of back and forth before we launched our brand guidelines that include tone of voice, design elements, and visual language.
Meet maya.ai 2.0 – a new look from head to toe
You can now say hello to the refreshed and rejuvenated maya.ai! For the rest of this article, I will focus on the creative output of our brand refresh. I’ll leave it to you, the reader, to explore our content on our awesome new website – maya.ai (built using our brand guidelines of course)!
We looked at three key brand elements: the tone of voice, visual identity, and messaging.
Tone of voice
Our CEO, Suresh Shankar gave us a wonderful one-liner that sums up our brands’ personalities: “Crayon (the parent brand) is the wise and mysterious person that everyone admires from afar and maya.ai is the cool, vivacious girl-next-door that everyone wants to be friends with”.
While defining maya.ai’s tone of voice, we kept two categories in mind. The primary personality traits, which define her are:
- Personal. maya.ai understands people as unique individuals. She enjoys authentic conversations with smart audiences.
- Simple. maya.ai doesn’t beat around the bush. She’s clear, crisp, and easy-to-understand.
- Smart. Everything maya.ai does is informed by data and supported by analysis, facts, and reasoning.
- Provocative. maya.ai loves to trigger thought and incite action.
And her secondary personality traits that add flavor and flair according to context:
- Confident. maya.ai is a pretty cool AI personalization platform. She’s unapologetic about it. (But doesn’t forget her manners in the process.)
- Cheeky. maya.ai enjoys good humor! She’s occasionally witty and playful.
While it’s important to have a distinctive voice, it’s also great to know when to dial down the cheekiness or bring out the smartness, full throttle. The traits of our brand voice can be mixed and matched in several ways to bring out the right tone on the right channel. We came up with this unique method to change our tone based on the audience we were speaking to. For example, when writing copy for presentations vs digital ads, maya.ai’s traits can be adjusted accordingly:
As your audience differs for various pieces of communication, it’s important to tweak your voice to speak to them. In the examples above: presentations are much more formal (think client and investor pitches), hence we should portray smart and confident selves and dial down on the cheekiness. Whereas digital ads are where maya.ai’s provocativeness and cheekiness can really shine!
Visual identity: logo and colors
Our primary palette uses bright colors to accentuate maya.ai’s personality traits; they also bring a certain boldness to our brand. They’re used subtly and logically on the platform and for marketing, to guide the eye and highlight what’s important. We love it because it’s bright and clean.
We left our logo exactly the way it was designed in 2018. It was simple (one of maya.ai’s personality traits) and stood out from the whole host of other B2B SaaS companies’ logos. The reason we chose an adorable Dachshund was that it embodied the essence of our vision: to be dedicated to understanding human tastes. That meant being relevant to each and every customer throughout all stages of their journey – to mimic the way a dog stays by its human for its entire lifetime.
We also have variations where the dog takes on more playful and varied positions, such as waiting for a treat or a toy and just taking a break and resting on its paws.
We then incorporated the maya.ai dog into illustrations peppered throughout our website and collaterals. This allows us to portray a more cohesive visual identity across assets and channels.
Visual identity: photography and illustrations
The highlight of our brand refresh has to be the all-new maya.ai website. It’s the perfect vehicle to showcase how the various brand elements came together to form one cohesive brand. The colorful lines that are part of the background in many of our assets, including the website, are now a brand mnemonic.
Since maya.ai is a personalization platform. Our marketing and branding should also convey the same message: everything is personal. That includes every image you will come across on our website and collaterals. The photos we use must be authentic and connect with the audience at a personal level i.e. no generic posed images and silhouette shots. Ideally, we look for and use images that focus on one person, to symbolize personalization is unique for every individual.
Along the same vein, illustrations should thoughtfully convey ideas, specific actions, context, and sentiments. Illustrations are used throughout our website to highlight either the enterprises maya.ai helps or to visualize the platform itself, and specific product features.
From “The world’s only AI engine dedicated to understanding human tastes”
to “The AI platform powering the age of relevance”
Our original tagline was sweet. But it didn’t represent the whole picture. Only a micro-portion of what maya.ai does. It’s the dawn of a new decade. With the madness of 2020 (the pandemic, protests, and disastrous events) as the backdrop, we needed a more enduring and visionary tagline.
So, we dived headfirst into the latest research in consumer behavior and marketing trends of the new decade. And landed on what we think is the next biggest thing – relevance marketing. Articles published by Accenture and Harvard Business Review tout hyper-relevance as the next growth driver.
maya.ai sits perfectly in the relevance era. At its core, the platform enables enterprises to stay relevant to their customers. By first, understanding them, and second, by engaging them in personally relevant and meaningful ways. The only constant in this world is change – and the only way to keep abreast of change is to continuously evolve to stay relevant. Our new tagline clearly establishes maya.ai’s mission to power all enterprises to stay relevant through changing tides.
To infinity and beyond
A brand refresh, simply put, is an internal response to external stimulus. The world has changed, and maya.ai has reached the next stage in her journey, where she needs to run faster and farther. Inasmuch as this was a marketing exercise, a lot of teams at Crayon Data, were involved in one way or another. Our platform, data science, and engineering teams were crucial in giving us the source content used on our collaterals. Front-end teams such as sales and demand generation provided us feedback on which messages resonate with prospects and what didn’t. This was a process to prepare the company to scale sales, platform, and client delivery to serve 100x more customers than we can today.
The next step is to move all our assets to the digital realm. We’ve already produced a new set of product marketing videos that speaks to the #AgeOfRelevance and we’re excited for the rest of the digital collaterals to come. We are well on our way to becoming a 100% digital, global brand, accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world (albeit, a working internet connection).
With a swanky new look and a clear, crisp tagline, maya.ai is ready for its next phase of growth. We’ve generated traction and impressive ROI with our global clients in the last three years. And now, we’re all set for (personalized) hyper-growth.