2023 Brand Campaign Building | Digital Marketing at TriNet

Brand Campaign Building

May 9, 2023
Brand Campaign Building

Michael Mendenhall, Senior Vice President, and Chief Marketing Officer / Chief Communications Officer discusses TriNet’s new brand campaign with Meri Gulyan, VP of Brand and Digital Strategy at TriNet, Karen Mulligan, Studio Manager and Agent at Annie Leibovitz Studios and Galen Summer, Founding Member and Director of Public Record.

Michael Mendenhall: So, I'll be as brief as I can because I want you to hear from our customers. But I want you to meet some of the people who participated in the campaign.
As you can imagine, we did this campaign pretty rapidly. I mean, Burton also is demanding and he's like, “I want this thing out in February.” Like, there's no way. And I kept saying, the end of March. End of March, I think we met the end of March. That was a good date for us. And we did hit it. But there was a lot of like, as he said, “late nights, long nights” getting to this point.
And you'll hear from Annie, who had a chock-full schedule. And we went to her and we said, you have to fit us in. We have to get these five photos done. They're all across the country. She was doing 28 portraits at that time and said, I'm going to do it. I want to do it. You're going to hear from her and why she loves this campaign. And she fit them in too.
So a lot of people went to extraordinary efforts to produce this. You've seen our new brand. You know one of our key differentiators is really people. We developed in 2019 People Matter and we know that it's the people in these companies, whether they're the founders, whether they're executives or people that just work in these companies, you know, no matter what their age is, you know, no matter where they're from geographically, no matter what their preference is, no matter their ethnicity, it's a collection of these people behind a mission that do change the world. And you're going to see some of that tonight.
This is the reason why we decided to update the iconography and identity of the company, because, as Burton said, we're a new company. We keep adding capabilities. We're beyond just the PEO for sure. We hopefully in marketing and in sales will be able to continue to message that.
So, you know, all of the capabilities that we have as a company and so people really are the foundation. The reason I say that is, you know, it's the unseen. The small businesses are the unseen.
Unless they do an IPO or they're acquired, you don't hear about them. Yet, they represent over 50% of our GDP and they absolutely represent the workforce, the bulk of our workforce. And it's these people that innovate, that are dedicated seven to 10 years that actually make amazing things happen.
We are part of their company. The way we look at them as if we are a part of you. Your growth and success is ours and we are only successful if you are. And so the ability for us to provide the services and the capabilities for you to hire great talent, hold on to and retain great talent becomes incredibly important to us. And so we really see ourselves as a part of your company.
And so with that, we decided we need to rebrand the company, keeping some of the iconography the wingmark is “tri” and the “tri” we bolded. Why did we do that? Because it's us trying to get our customers and your people that become the most important piece of the success of our company as well. And so we kept some of those within the new iconography.
And so you'll see this being reflected out around People Matter and the idea that it is about the people and it's about us with you jointly building success. This was designed by Siegel+Gale, an award winning branding company who worked with us.
And yes, it extraordinary piece of work that took some time. When you change the iconography of a company, it's a very important big decision and one that's not taken lightly.
So we've been working on this for many, many months to come up with this new branding that reflects what is a new company in some regards. So with that, we think this embodies that we're excited about it. You're going to see this play out. So and in many different forms in media and some of it you've probably seen. We launched some of it yesterday.
So at this point, what I'd love to do is bring Meri up, Meri Gulyan. She is my VP of brand and digital strategy. She has been amazing in working on this event and working on the branding and some of the creative. And we're going to talk a little bit about the creative quickly because we want to get to our customers as well.
So we started with a creative collaboration and I've known, if I go back to my Disney days, we worked with McGarryBowen. I was one of their first clients at Disney and we did the campaign, Magic Happens, and he also developed for Ken Chennault, Membership has its privileges. And I called him up and I said, “Listen, we don't want to hire an agency. We want to use you as a creative collaborator and your small team.” And we did that. And so, I'll let you talk about our collaboration with them and what we did.
Meri Gulyan: Yeah. And just a little preamble into this. So, Michael is an amazing creative director. You get a lot of calls that say, “Hey, I have this great idea. We're going to do some amazing things. Let's make it happen.” So it's pretty awesome how things happen at TriNet because it's all about the rooted idea, right?
So, we worked with a number of agencies. We decided that what we're going to do is really focus on we had started identity in November of last year, so we did that. And then we said, “This really needs a campaign to go along with it.” So we brought in all these creative powerhouses and said, “We really need to make this a big moment of what TriNet's doing, right?” And with everything we're doing, it's tied to that.
It was completely strategic to say, this goes along with our brand evolution. This goes around everything that we're doing here. So we called up all these companies and agencies, and with Garson and Galen and everyone you're going to meet today. And we decided we're going to come up with one of the best campaigns we've done, right?
And it's, the greatest part is you had set up People Matter in 2019. And so with that, we were able to evolve that and make it greater and bigger and also work with such amazing talent.
Michael: So we should talk about some of the creative and show some of it.
Meri: Yes, let's do that. So we worked, we did out-of-home with Dentsu and then Michael mentioned that with Gordon. So we did something amazing out-of-home. We featured our five customers, amazing folks. And our out-of-home right now, is in our five core markets.
We're really, really wanted to make sure that we were tying our People Matter campaign to their stories and featuring them. So that was amazing. I got to go on a couple of the shoots with…
Michael: But we should talk about too... We wanted to represent our vertical strategies. So you'll see the five customers we selected have amazing stories that really do impact the world. And we wanted to represent each one of those verticals in a way that was both emotional, moving and interactive.
And the one thing I will say is you'll see a little cue card over here or on the boards.
I would use that. It's an interactive, it's very cool, very interactive where you will engage with each of our customers. You begin to understand them and their case studies with us. And so that was a piece of this is to represent our strategy, a vertical strategy.
Meri: Correct. Yeah. It's been amazing. And Galen, he'll be coming up soon as well. He shot some of the behind the scenes of the photo shoot. We used all that content to really come up with a cohesive collaborative campaign. So it's not one thing. We tied our TV to our digital, to our radio, to our behind the scenes, to everything we've done so that we have a very cohesive kind of a nice little envelope with a ribbon on top of it.
Michael: Yeah. And if you're in New York, we took over Grand Central Station.
Meri: Yes.
Michael: Yes, I knew I knew the New York crowd would be happy about that. We have not ignored you as a market.
Meri: And I know there's some Bostonians here. So the TD Gardens takeover is coming up as well.
So we're, yeah, we had a wonderful time. And I think with the commercial, which was amazing because we shot that and a lot of those amazing actors and actresses are here today actually.
Michael: Yeah. So where are they? They were so passionate about being a part of this project. They all showed up, which is so unusual. I've never had that happen. Are they here?
Meri: They're here.
Michael: Where are the actors that are here? You should stand up because we're going to play the commercial. So you'll get to recognize them. Come on up, come up, come up.
Meri: And one of the things we do is when we cast. We cast a very diverse cast on purpose because we do it a little bit different than the traditional way, because we want to make sure we built that into all our campaigns. So we have a very awesome, amazing, diverse cast. They're so fun to work with.
Michael: So should we play this?
Meri: Yeah.
Michael: Let's play that commercial that Burton spoke about.
Voiceover: Our customers don't do what they do for likes or followers. Their path isn’t for the casually curious. And that's what makes it matter the most when they find it. The exact thing that can change the world.
Some say it's what they were born to do, but that's too easy. They put it in too much heart, too much brain, too much everything. It's what they live to do,
TriNet serves small and medium-size businesses, so they can do more of what matters. Benefits. Payroll. Compliance. TriNet. People matter.
Michael: Well. You'll have to you have to listen to radio and certainly see all the out of home.
So, Meri, thank you.
Meri: Thank you.
Michael: …so very much for leading your team. I know Paul Boscacci is here. A big thank you to you as well, Paul.
The next person I want to bring up and she wanted us to make this statement. Annie Liebowitz wanted to be here, but she had a family commitment in New Zealand with her daughter. So we got the next best thing, Karen Mulligan, who is really her agent, but also, I will tell you, the general manager of the entire Annie Liebowitz studio. And nothing happens with Annie without Karen. Karen.
Well, we'll try to be… I know I'm probably running out of time, but we'll be very brief.
Karen and I always sort of creatively collaborate and this was the day after Christmas. And she goes, “You know, I don't meet many people the day after Christmas.”
Karen Mulligan: On my vacation.
Michael: On her vacation. Is your mic on? Yeah.
Karen: I think so, yeah.
Michael: And and so we went to dinner.
Karen: Well, does a martini count as dinner?
Michael: Yeah, yeah. Yes, we did.
Karen: So we had dinner.
Michael: Yeah, we had dinner and we're talking about the evolution of People Matter. And I said, “You know, I really want to start to move the direction of People Matter into something that's more personal.”
And our first campaign, we didn't attribute any of the customers. And I said I want to attribute to customers. I want to tell their story and I want to do it in a way that's stylized, that's rich in color and that it feels like Annie's done a painting and yet it's a photograph.
And so she's like, “Got it, got it.” What else? We have to do something else because we tend to push Annie. We had her do living portraits for the first time where she was doing film and had a great experience. Interesting, but great, right? And had some fun stories there. And so Karen was the one that said, “We want to do this repertoire of behind the scenes and black and white and let's get Annie to allow us for the first time.
Karen: And I think also we wanted to tell a deeper story.
Michael: Yeah.
Karen: And that was going to give us the opportunity to do that rather than just have this still image. You have this behind the scenes telling these incredible stories of the portraits that Annie took. So she was open to that because she felt like it should be a 360 and not just be the still photograph with the caption and that these people can tell their stories.
Michael: Yeah. And so it was the first time she allowed… she's collaborated with Galen Summer, who you're going to meet and said, “I'm comfortable with him doing this,” which he did right.
And because she couldn't be here, which is a first, I think she sat with me for over an hour.
Karen: Right.
Michael: And I interviewed her about her experience with all of our customers and why she was doing what she was doing and what it meant to her. And so Galen did an amazing job doing that.
So I think what we want to do is play a little piece that shows pieces of that interview.
Karen: Right, Right.
Michael: Perfect.
Annie Leibovitz: I have to say, I was so impressed with this group, you know, across the board, every single one of these people are just like doing amazing, incredible things. You can say, “Yes, small businesses. These are small businesses,” but small business is really where it's at. And I'm a lucky person to be there with them in these moments when they should be so proud of who they are and what they're doing.
One thing about the still photograph or the portrait is that the sense of place is it becomes is very, very important. I knew these were going to be environmental portraits. I really thought about how important it is to find the place that will resonate.
We found this office in a therapy room that she used to work in. She's not really working there so much anymore. It was almost like when she walked into that room with those two green chairs and the green couch. And as she sat down, everything just flooded back to her about being in that room and how important it was to look out that window and look at that tree. And it was really effortless.
It was like you're walking into Star Wars. You know, he's in this garage that used to, you know, work on cars. I knew it was important to put the machine in because those machines are so futuristic and strange and interesting and beautifully designed, actually, you know, if you think about it. And I think the hard part was deciding how serious he should look. I thought it was such a serious subject. I did make a little judgment call there. I just had him a little more and become a little bit more introspective.
I mean, he was amazing. I mean, to see him actually hold the baby and whisper to the baby and the way he held the baby, it's kind of remarkable. I really wanted a doctor's office, but he doesn't really have an office any longer. And I just made a decision to work at his home because it had a beautiful light. You know, I prefer natural light if I can have it anyway. And I always use natural light as a kind of a teacher in a direction and actually it was really nice to work that way.
He's really like a hero. He's an amazing man. We walked into that conference room and there right outside, right out on that window, and that window is, you know, the people walking by the bus, it’s the mission district. I just felt like he was he was on the street, you know, practically. It was a decision I made that the table was; it was really his tool.
They’re in the world of Mad Men. And there they were, two women running their own agency. And I think that it was like a very proud moment. The day before, I had seen the Edward Hopper show and I walked into that conference room and the light was coming in and hitting the wall on the table in a certain way. And I was just thinking first of all, you kind of had a Hopper-esque feel. But also, it's very hard to explain creativity. I felt like the light told the story about, you know, having to go into that room and think about what you wanted to do next.
Truly, each one of these people are amazing. They represent a lot, but you realize that they're just the tip of the iceberg. They like that TriNet is there for them, the small business. And, you know, I'm proud to work with TriNet as well.
Michael: So we should end with you've been a customer of TriNet it as well.
Karen: Yes. For four, five, five years.
Michael: Five years. So thank you very much for being a customer. Thank you. It was awesome.
So it's my privilege to introduce our next guest, founder, of public record award winning documentary filmmaker, by the way and he could maybe talk about this, he's the director of Apple TV's documentary Monster Factory, which everyone is viewing right now. This is about misfit dreamers at a wrestling school in the outskirts of New Jersey. And a lot of people are giving a critical acclaim.
So it's my honor to bring up one of our directors, producers, Galen Summer, who's awesome.
Yeah. All right.
So, Galen.
Galen Summer: Yes. Michael.
Michael: Monster. Just give me a little tidbit before we get into this.
Galen: I didn't expect we'd be talking about pro wrestling, but yeah, we have a little show on Apple TV right now. And it's not just for pro wrestling fans and that was why I was attracted to it.
In a way, it actually makes me think of TriNet because it's really about the stories. It's about people's stories and, you know, they're underdogs with a big dream. And I think in some ways, you could, relate that to small business, you know, people that are looking to find success with the thing that they really love and they're passionate about. So anyway, our show, Monster Factory is a bit of that. And I think, you know, check it out. Even if you don't love pro wrestling, maybe you will after watching the show. But yeah.
Michael: Well, so we worked with you early with People Matter.
Those were more fundamental sort of documentaries. Then we approached you this time and said, “Well, we've actually convinced Annie to allow somebody to do a behind the scenes, which he's never done and was very nervous about it, but said, “No, I love his work from the last time. I'm okay.” So talk about, though, what interests you in this project?
Galen: Well, I mean, it's such an honor, really, to have her say that. And, you know, for us, it was obviously we'd done the previous campaign and seen and he's great photos and we're going to some of the same places but never with her.
Michael: Yeah.
Galen: So to get the chance to get a window into how this great artist works, what does she do and to meet these same people that she's photographing. I mean, we couldn't really say no to that opportunity.
Michael: Yeah, so what we're going to do is we're going to show a piece of his work. Dr. John Adler, who's a neurosurgeon at Stanford, researcher who developed the only CyberKnife. And this is noninvasive surgery and he now has developed another technique which you'll hear him talk about, which is noninvasive, and it's really used for any type of brain cancers.
And it's pretty amazing this new technology. He wished he could be here, he couldn't. So we thought we would do him justice by playing this documentary from Galen Summer. Dr. John Adler with ZAP Surgical Systems has been with TriNet for eight years now.
Let's take a look.
Dr. John Adler: My name is John Adler. I'm a neurosurgeon for the mission to make the next generation of surgical devices. In the public consciousness today, surgeries are all about knives and pain and anesthesia. But I'm intrigued by what we're going to be doing 100 or 200 years from now.
ZAP is a surgical tool that allows physicians to noninvasively concentrate radiation on a tumor anywhere in the body. So this idea of noninvasively removing tumors painlessly and really almost effortlessly, it should be everywhere.
So I decided to develop a next generation product, and for that I needed a team. Finding great employees, especially in Silicon Valley, is hard. You really need to offer a full suite of employee benefits, and that's how I came to work with TriNet. It's a relief. I don't need to worry about it. It frees up a part of my brain and allow us to live up to our mission.
Annie: With Dr. Adler, he's very proud of the fact that he's in this garage that used to, you know, work on cars. It's like you're walking into Star Wars, you know, or you're walking into the future. So I knew it was important to put the machine in, but it's not so easy to photograph the machine and the doctor at the same time. So you have to kind of move things around to a place where one feels comfortable and then try to have something that feels, you know, emotional.
I think the hard part was deciding, you know, how serious he should look. I did make a little judgment call there because he's not quite that serious, actually. He's a surfer. He has this kind of Zen quality about him. He's very wonderful and outgoing and interesting. I just had him become a little bit more introspective.
Dr. Adler: I liken what Annie does to something like surgery. There are a lot of little technical details that you got to get right. But in the end, just magic happens. What drives me a lot is really a sense of duty. Surgery can be ever less invasive, ever safer and ever more effective. And not just for a few people in the world, but really the entire world.
Michael: So, Galen, produced six pieces, five of these and also the previous piece that you saw. So, Galen, awesome having you here and working with you again. Congratulations on all of your other future work and hopefully we’ll get to work with you again.
Galen: Yes, love that.
Michael: Yeah. Thank you.
Galen: Congratulations. Great event. Yeah.
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