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Interview with Mandy Novak – Director Global Brand & Customer Experience at Ivoclar

Mandy Novak - Ivoclar

In today’s Brandification Interview we talked to Mandy Novak – Director Global Brand & Customer Experience at Ivoclar. We learned from her about the challenges Ivoclar faces in the brand and CX area as a company in the dental industry, which goals Ivoclar have set for themselves in this area, and how the Ivoclar Brand Hero Community uses Brandification


Mandy Novak, thank you so much for joining us today! Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and about Ivoclar to get us started? 

Thank you for having me! With pleasure. Maybe first of all I’ll start with Ivoclar: We are a dental company. Our products are aimed at dental technicians and dentists. We have 3,500 employees worldwide and operate globally.  

About me as a person: I originally came from a dental practice – it’s been a while – but I therefore also bring some experience from this perspective. First I started at the German lvoclar site and worked in a number of positions: I started out in the call center, then I built up a CRM area and an inside sales department. And finally, I decided to move to Headquarters. That’s where I’ve been since January 2019 in the role of CX Manager and now also in the role of “Director Global Brand” and “Customer Experience”. 

Feel free to give us an overview of Ivoclar’s brand values and brand positioning.  

With pleasure. About our brand values: We’ve gone through the process. We worked on the brand. We took a whole year to work the whole thing out from the ground up. Derived from our previous top performances, we have developed six brand values. We have developed brand rules. Our mission is: “Making people smile” and everything we do should lead to this goal. 

That’s definitely a very motivational goal! What role does the brand play for Ivoclar as a company in the dental industry? 

It definitely plays a big role! I would say we have a full focus on it. The whole thing is also strategically anchored at our company. All our efforts are aimed at strengthening the corporate brand. And to really condense what we have already done in the past and make it tangible for our customers.

Where do you currently face the greatest challenges in the areas of CX and brand?

That’s a good question. I’ll start with the CX area: In the area of CX, the challenge is not only to talk about it and really understand the whole thing, but above all to get into action. We use the “customer journey mapping” methodology there and always have an incredible number of insights after the journey mappings. We have an unbelievable number of ideas and know for a lot of points where we don’t need to invest any more budget or time because our customers don’t place any value on certain things. The important point is that we get started. You don’t need a plan to optimize the entire journey right from the start, and you don’t really need a roadmap with milestones, but you must get started relatively quickly. Pick a touchpoint, an optimization idea. Simply implement it and see how it comes across. And then move on. It takes more of an iterative approach. 

Then there’s the challenge in the area of brand: I think it really lies in making the concept of brand clear to every employee so that everyone knows how their actions can contribute to strengthening the brand. I think that is and will remain a challenge for all companies – that we make brand tangible for the workforce and show how the people can contribute there.

You decided to use Brandification for your Brand Hero Community. Why did you choose to do that and what is your objective with the tool? 

We had different objectives there. On the one hand, we wanted to use an exciting tool, a fun tool – that also adds gamification elements. A tool that is fun to use and that makes it fun to process data. On the other hand, of course, we wanted to have a transparent overview. How many touchpoints do we have? In which organization do they comply with the brand rules? What is the percentage breakdown? Where do we have the most potential for optimization? What is the internal assessment, i.e., the internal brand audit result versus the external assessments? All of that was important for us. And right from the start, we didn’t want to start poorly with an Excel list, but we also wanted to have a structured approach that we could use to inspire people. And that’s where your support really helped – that includes your support in the trainings. At the very beginning, when we introduced Brandification, people already sensed that there was enthusiasm, there was motivation, there was passion, and of course that got people going.

That makes us extremely happy! What has changed due to the use of Brandification? 

There have definitely been changes! We went through the first brand audit process last year, with 25 Brand Heros in our company, which means one person from each location at a time. We did the internal assessment first, meaning each Brand Hero uploaded 10 touchpoints. In total, there were 250 touchpoints. Then everyone assessed their touchpoints for themselves according to the 6 brand rules, answering the question: “How “on-brand” is this touchpoint for me?” Then we had an external partner assess the brand rules again. And then we looked to see where the “gap” was and entered into dialog with the users and said: “Look, this is my assessment. This is yours. What are the areas in which we might also have a blind spot?” That’s quite normal – over time, when you’ve been in the organization for so long, you might no longer be as attentive to certain things. And then we often got new ideas on how we could optimize touchpoints and then started implementing them. What we did before that were prototypes. We had each Brand Hero create a prototype and say, “Apply the six brand rules to this flyer, document, social media post, etc. and show us the before and after.” And that led once again – and that was also a learning for us – to the fact that people really worked with the brand intensively and were therefore also able to apply this principle very well.

To whom would you recommend Brandification as a tool? 

Oh! Here comes a somewhat clumsy answer: Everyone! Everyone. I don’t see brand reinforcement as important for certain companies, but the topic is important for all companies in the present time. Products are becoming more and more interchangeable. The brand conveys certain values and customers know what they can rely on. I actually see it as relevant for all companies.

Last but not least we are curious to know: What was your favorite brand in your childhood and what is it today?

In childhood, it was actually Barbie. I loved having Barbies – different Barbies, dark-haired, blonde, red-haired; Ken, of course, on top of that, a Barbie house, Porsche and so on. So, I had all the accessories. Today, it’s Apple. I really appreciate Apple for the constant appearance, for the simplicity, and for the unboxing experience. Beats – the headphones – I also like very much. The same is true there. I also like Amazon as a brand because they’re really, really customer-centric, and from my point of view, they offer amazing customer service. And I really like Häagen Dazs ice cream. It stands for quality, there are great flavors and everything I mentioned earlier applies to them as well.

Mandy Novak, thank you very much for the exciting interview and all the best to you and to Ivoclar!

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