How Sharp was re-wired for the digital age | M&M Global

How Sharp was re-wired for the digital age

Electrical product corporation Sharp had a very strong analog brand but adapting to digital threw its model into disarray. On the morning of the first day of Ad:Tech 2015, Sharp Electronics president and chief executive officer Paul Molyneux introduced Havas Work Club co-chief executive officer Paddy Griffith who helped guide the company into the digital age.


Molyneux opened by discussing the opportunity to take a new message to market. “In order to exploit the opportunity, we had to make sure we were able to position the brand in the right place for the marketplace,” he said.

The marketplace for electrical goods is quite traditional and there was no way that Sharp could go “toe to toe with the big giants” without facing the challenges of differentiating and disrupting, according to Molyneux. However, he said that it was to the company’s advantage that it could act like a relatively small business with the backing of a big corporation.

At this point, he put in the call to Griffith and was impressed by his ability to think strategically and develop a model that could be applied to the marketplace. Griffith felt Molyneux was clear that he didn’t want to rebuild Sharp as it was, but instead wanted it much more lean, agile and “consumer-centric”.

Griffith felt the old Sharp brand had a “remarkable steely greyness stripped of story or background” and saw a big opportunity.

He proposed a four step model to grow in to the untapped “digitally determined” space.

Firstly, Griffith focussed on the brand ideal, the essential need at the heart, which is the best focus in supporting the lives of the customers. “We really need to be a company that understands that relationship,” Griffith said.

Secondly, he focussed on internal culture and the ethos of people at Sharp, who make the ideal believable. “What makes us different as a company is what brought you in to this room,” he mused.

“It was critical we brought people with us, we had to communicate to them what made us different as a company and test it with our own people,” said Molyneux. “Do they believe it? Are they going to own it? Are they going to execute it?”

They put the ideas together in a pitch document. “The great thing that came out of that process was we were able to get everybody together in one room,” said Molyneux, “then explain to them what we were going to do and have them agree how we were going to do it.

“This time round we wanted to do it the right way and started to identify what was the right way.”

Point three focussed on outward promise and the blueprint for how the brand is experienced. “It’s all very well saying we will be best in the market, then we have to pay for it. This term ‘branding inside out’ was used a lot,” said Griffith.

Molyneux felt that leveraging an additional platform allowed the company to do a lot quite quickly.

The final point concerned the ideal customer experience of how the brand behaves over time.

Molyneux discussed the digital value chain and following consumers through each stage of their life, providing products, which he felt was “really strong to articulate to customers and dealers”.

He said that the website was not transactional but that they are looking at new business models for the future.

“Targeting digital consumers, we can really construct our stories, our message, our approach to target their needs which is very different to the big players,” concluded Griffith.

Anna Dobbie


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