AiThority Interview with Jaclyn Kalb, Co-Lead US Operations at Frontify
Know My Company
How did you connect with Frontify and what appealed most to you about it?
I almost serendipitously found Frontify through a search for a seamless way to manage brand assets for an upcoming pitch I had with an agency. While looking for a solution, I found their story and the hint at upcoming expansion into the US beyond compelling. It’s pretty obvious when you read about Frontify that there’s a bit of magic within the team they’ve built and continue to build. It’s a company built on trust, transparency, and honesty, which appealed to me. In New York, I think we often get bogged down in thinking that our value is to work doggedly, and we’re only as good as our last sale. That’s not Frontify. They value each and every customer and team member across the organization. Frontify’s desire to keep that feeling of the family alive across a global team struck me as immensely refreshing.
What is your role and how do you handle the team/technology at Frontify?
I am co-leading the US office for Frontify alongside my colleague, Johannes Waibel. The Swiss team has built an amazing product – a SaaS brand management platform that acts as a single source of truth, enabling brand consistency alongside maximized collaboration and efficiency. Frontify has had immense success in the global marketplace, so I’m here to help move that momentum forward with strategic relationships within the United States. Having a physical presence in the US is integral to building trust and transparency with future customers. Our US team will is here to build upon the success of the product, and runs across marketing, sales, customer success, and general operations.
Can you summarize Frontify’s key offerings? Has anything been released recently?
Frontify is a B2B SaaS company, providing all-in-one brand management software for increased brand consistency and clarity – cloud-based efficiency for businesses of all sizes. As a single source of truth, it’s where powerful brand experiences are created and shared.
With Frontify, you can define your brand’s core with dynamic brand guidelines, centralize every digital asset, build a design system for digital efficiency, and create customized templates for always on-brand marketing collateral. The Frontify platform is super intuitive and user-friendly, allowing you to use project spaces to simplify feedback loops and get approvals – profoundly increasing productivity.
We just launched a free version of our platform, which I’m excited about. The idea is to make branding accessible to anyone – regardless of budget and team size. I think there’s no better way to create buzz and brand awareness than to get our platform in the hands of anyone with an interest or tie to branding.
What do you think are the biggest challenges in branding today and why?
Two of the major challenges I see in branding today is to stay authentic, but also to create brand-consistent touchpoints across the board. When looking at the advertising ecosystem in general, you have the inherent challenge of ensuring that your branding is kept consistent, both by internal and external stakeholders. An obvious risk would be having the wrong logo going out across a media publication, while more ambiguous challenges could be holding true to your tone of voice, brand ethos, and brand values. Within that comes the challenge of authenticity. We’re at a point where many brands look to align themselves with larger CSR initiatives, which raises the question of “does my brand have a role/voice within this?”
What are the trends you see on the horizon for branding? How should brands think about voice tech and smart devices when rolling out a new brand image?
I have always been of the mentality that a brand should engage with consumers in a way that develops a sense of trust in a genuine way. I think this will continue to be a major trend in branding for 2019 and beyond. With social media chatter being at its height, my feeling is that brands will continue to trend toward having an open/honest dialogue with its consumers and pulling their branding to be more authentic. In the end, a brand is never what you create – it’s what’s perceived.
I think offline engagement will also continue to be a large push, moving forward. Brands like Nutella have stores in New York where you can purchase custom Nutella jars. While retail is nothing new, I think the trend toward ensuring a digital presence is going to continue to be big for branding in pushing various aspects of consumer penetration.
Smart devices and voice tech continues to grow, and I think brands should have a strategy around these when rolling out a new brand image. Do they want to engage with consumers through voice tech, for purchase online? I think, with smart devices, ensuring that your brand is accessible across all platforms is also key.
What are the brands you admire for branding and why?
Glossier is a brand that I admire not only from a branding perspective but looking at their entire strategy. Glossier has branded itself as an authentic and trustworthy product line, and I think that has been evident in their approach across social media. I think their digital-first approach has been extremely successful – but they also listen and take in customer advice, thoughts, and feedback – the heart of their brand narrative.
Soulcycle is a brand that has been able to capitalize on the power of community. It’s nearly impossible to walk down an NYC street and not see some form of Soul branding emblazoned on a person’s clothing. They’ve managed to champion their brand beyond fitness classes into a full lifestyle credo. Their collaborations have also leveraged their branding to delve into other arenas such as beauty (LeLabo), retail (P.E. Nation, LuluLemon, etc.) and music (many top artists drop their new singles via Soul).
Where do you see the biggest opportunity to attract Frontify customers in the U.S.?
Frontify has been able to garner some pretty large Fortune 500 client accounts in the US, without having a presence. I genuinely believe, with the team we’re building, the sky’s the limit. Awareness is something we are pushing right now and with consistency continually top of mind for brands, Frontify will be the north star for brands to collaborate internally and externally – that will be our biggest potential in grabbing additional market shares.
What’s next for Frontify in the U.S. in the remainder of 2019?
We are really looking forward to the expansion of our team here in the US. We’re growing rapidly, so to have a full scope of sales, marketing, and customer support here in New York will open up doors to brand and agency contacts. From the product side, we have a number of features we’re rolling out on a global scale throughout the remainder of the year. Stay tuned for more excitement, integrations, and means of ensuring that Frontify remains the most intuitive platform for brand management. We’ve got a solid foundation to build upon the previous success the team has found in the US through brand awareness, upcoming roadshows, and client engagement.
What are the unique company culture aspects of Frontify?
Frontify is a company that values harmony between work and private life. The company looks out for its employees by building a relationship based on mutual respect, where the employees are empowered to balance personal responsibility and freedom – a great recipe for our success.
Frontify does not take a commission-based sales approach. We have a belief that it takes more than one person to sell; a unique and uplifting approach. As a former seller and manager, I know the rate of burn-out that comes with feeling like a) you’re only as good as your last sale, and b) the anxiety of a seller wondering who internally to call upon for late-night or weekend client support. When you take away the idea that ownership of clients falls solely on the shoulders of the seller, it allows for the entire team to feel engaged and focused on putting the customer first. This also allows us to be extremely transparent with customers with our product offerings, what’s in the pipeline, and even helping to forge vendor relationships in the brand and agency-verse.
The team treats each other not just as colleagues, but as friends and family, which is noticeable in everything we do. We champion each other, we pull together and assist one another, and focus on driving the ball forward – as a unit. It’s exhilarating to be a part of a company that inherently cares about its people. As a leader, I enjoy being able to focus on that for my team as well.
What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
To be honest, I think I’m a bit of a work in progress on this one. I’ve spent a majority of my career fueling on caffeine to get things done, and working around the clock. Being at Frontify has taught me that it’s not about the hours you work, it’s about the quality of work. So I’m trying to manage my schedule from a perspective that allows for a work/life balance which is part of our company culture. The one thing I think is important in order to keep productivity up is to block your calendar. I’m hyper-scheduled and organized, and while it may be a bit boring, it’s certainly kept me on track to always meet or exceed deadlines. With that approach, there isn’t any priority guesswork going into the week.
What would have been your alternate career choice if you were not working in technology?
Soulcycle Instructor. I got certified as a spin instructor about 6 years ago. It drives back to my love of their branding, efforts to create a sense of community, and my inherent belief that wellness is a 360° approach of both mental and physical well-being. I think I take a lot of the key principles of what Soulcycle instructors do into my day-to-day work of managing a team. I often lead to emotion and motivation, which has always drawn me to the Soul community.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“And so it goes.” It’s a Vonnegut quote and a Billy Joel lyric. But it’s also something my Mom and Dad have consistently said to me throughout my life to help me remember that regardless of what obstacles you’re facing, life continues on. It’s a bit of a Kalb mantra and something I recently tattooed on my wrist. How’s that for a constant reminder that regardless of where you are, you need to always keep pushing forward? Because quite literally in life, both business and personal, and so it goes.
Name one person in your industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read
Joanna Lord, CMO of Skyscanner. She really inspired me during her time as CMO at Classpass and is a true leader in the MarTech space.
Thank you, Jaclyn! That was fun and hope to see you back on AiThority soon.
Jaclyn Kalb is co-lead for Frontify’s U.S. operations, managing the company’s growing team and strategy as it expands to meet accelerating demand.