The New Z in Zenefits

September 25, 2017

On September 21st, Zenefits hosted SHIFT: The Culture Conference, a mind meld of some of the most brilliant thinkers on the changing world of work, the importance of culture, and employee experience. Apparently a hot topic as the event sold out in just four weeks and had well over one hundred thousand livestream viewers.

This was also an important week for the future of Zenefits as we pivot from being a digital broker to becoming the technology backbone for the entire benefits industry – connecting best-in-class brokers, carriers, companies and employees – all together on our employee-centric people platform. To that end, we announced that for the first time we’ll be arming and empowering brokers instead of competing against them. We also introduced our new brand strategy that helps drive this exciting new business direction.

Backgrounder

Just to provide a little context for the 93% of you who (like me) are new to this story, here’s the short version. Impressively, Zenefits was founded just four years ago and rapidly upended both the software and insurance industries, becoming one the fastest growing software companies. Like many startups moving at such a blistering pace, they encountered growing pains in effectively scaling the business. Former PayPal executive David Sacks stepped in as interim CEO, restructured the company, and took compliance from a weakness to a core competency. Enter chapter three. I’m fortunate to be part of a new rockstar team – exec’s from Workday, Facebook, SAP, Taleo, Nike, joining brilliant co-founder & CTO Laks Srini and the rest of ZenNation – to help graduate the business to become one of the next major software platform plays. Think Apple (Mobile), SalesForce (CRM)… and now Zenefits (People).

An Honest Look at the Brand

A few months ago, we began an initiative to quantifiably discover what the Zenefits brand meant to the industry – the true market perception, what we’re known for and what we’re not known for, and should we change our name in light of the new strategic direction we were considering.

Let’s be honest, the company went through a lot over the past year or so, and many of us thought that a name change might be in order. Rather than make a subjective decision, we turned to data in a process that collected thousands of data points from current customers, decision makers, employees, and influencers.

What We Learned

We learned three important things about the Zenefits brand:

  1. We Innovate: While we’re known for saucy headlines in the Silicon Valley echo chamber, the rest of the nation actually knows us for something else. That something else is innovation – innovation that has advanced the industry.
  2. Only 7% Know Us: We learned that the majority of the market actually doesn’t even know us at all yet. We clearly have a huge opportunity and a lot of education to do.
  3. The Market is Confused: Interestingly, we learned that the market is full of confusing messages – including our own – that simply do not resonate with buyers. We also learned that our visual brand identity was not doing a good enough job of differentiating us.

Your Partner, In the Changing World of Work

While our initial goal was to learn about the Zenefits brand, what we really learned was a lot more. We learned that the world of work is changing. Not just for HR pro’s, it’s also changing for business leaders and employees too – across companies of all sizes and industries. We realized that as we’re designing software to empower and enhance the employee experience, a fundamental shift in the world of work is underway – driven by digital transformation and the talent economy. Moreover, customers made it very clear to us that they’re looking to Zenefits to be their partner in this changing world of work.

We also learned about the power of resilience. There was surprising strength in our name that we ourselves had overlooked and candidly underestimated. We learned about the strength of having survived some tough times, the strength of overcoming adversity, the strength of owning our story, and building upon and learning from our past.

In It Together

Our new brand promise is “In It Together.” In it together as employees. In it together with our customers. In it together with our expanding ecosystem of partners, including brokers, carriers, and our technology platform partners. This is our new mantra.

It Starts From Within

A successful brand strategy and rebranding initiative must start from within. The nucleus of a brand is the people who power it – their values, purpose, and mission. It’s how people prioritize work, it’s how they make decisions, and it’s what decisions they actually make. It’s how the team behaves when the leaders are away. After all, it’s the people that make our products, deliver our services, and ultimately manifest the brand. We’re committed to walking the talk and holding each other accountable to delivering on our new brand promise. With this intention, I’m also excited to introduce you to ZenNation – one team, one dream.

I’d like to personally thank all of our customers with whom we co-developed our new brand. In addition to their input before, during, and after the process, they also helped us with the making of this (and other) videos. We look forward to being your partner in the changing world of work. We are, In It Together.

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