“We knew that we needed to secure an emotional territory that is very distinct,” explained Julia White, SAP’s chief marketing and solutions officer. “The world of business-to-business marketing and B2B tech is busy, and it can all feel the same. So I wanted to know what our unique place in the world was and what we were going to stand for.”
Post-pandemic, the German multinational technology business has been on a journey of self-discovery as it aimed to understand what the company now means to modern businesses and how it responds to users’ adoption of generative artificial intelligence. Its client base includes major multinationals and brands such as Nestle, e.l.f. Beauty, Mercedes, the National Hockey League and Puma.
This journey followed years of acquisitions; a change in leadership under CEO Christian Klein, who took the helm in 2019; and a move toward its cloud-first offer. The latter is already bearing fruit, as cloud revenue grew by 20% last year to $14,719 million (€13,664 million), with the expectation of further growth this year.
Having joined as chief marketing and solutions officer in 2021, former Microsoft exec Julia White made it her first port of call to review the brand strategy for the software-as-a-service business.
White oversees a combined marketing department of around 4,000 people. That includes teams across the company’s five business categories—finance, human resources, procurement, customer experience and business technology platform—with a product marketing leader in each who is connected to the engineering teams in order to ensure that they understand the products and the customer needs.
We make it really hard to know what we do: Let’s make it easier.
Julia White, chief marketing and solutions officer, SAP
There is also a corporate marketing team that oversees digital experience, event experience, brand advertising and storytelling and a field marketing team that is set up in different markets around the world to handle local activations.
Around two-thirds of the marketing team is based in Seattle, with the rest spread internationally.
Introducing the new SAP brand
Internal review process “Project Spark” was initiated in 2022, and it ran across three stages, beginning with research around brand infrastructure and the impact of acquisitions made over the past decade in extending the SAP proposition. Those included enterprise architecture management firm LeanIX last year and payment supplier Taulia the year before. Some acquired businesses were subsequently placed under the SAP brand and others were not. The decision was made to bring them all together in order to simplify the messaging to customers.
The second phase was to overhaul the entire visual design system by using an array of color pallets, schemes and typography to deliver a new and fresh look within the marketing and product experience side.