Citrix Labs
Experimental Product Brand System
The Challenge: Help a large tech company embrace a little structured cacophony as a brand strategy in order to accelerate new product innovation.

Conventional wisdom tells us that the Perfect is generally the enemy of the Good. You hear it all the time, alongside corollary modern tech industry truisms like Fail Forward and the ever-elusive search for the Minimum Viable Product. Terms like these are reminders that the pace of innovation has fundamentally shifted, and if you don't get your new idea to market now, somebody else will do it for you (or indeed likely already has, and you just don't even know about it yet). But as product portfolios expand, and brand equity gets built, management of the brand experience can oftentimes come to loggerheads with this imperative to innovate faster, as the potential downside risks can take on implications beyond a given product. Citrix was in such a situation, as it tried to accelerate it's ability to foster new product innovations in-house, while at the same time managing implications those experimental products might have on perceptions around its brand.
The Innovation: Help Citrix leadership learn to learn from failure as well as success, and explicitly embrace the fact that every experimental product is not going to be a home-run.

When my team initially took on the challenge of defining a new process and approach to managing getting experimental products to market, one of our biggest initial insights was that the company needed to learn to have a more nuanced approach to developing product brands. Experimental products are just that: experiments. And the point of an experiment is to test a hypothesis. And implicit in the term is the acknowledgment that the outcome is unknown. As a result, many experimental product fail to become big hits. This doesn't make them failures, but it does mean that an organization that embraces the rapid release of new experimental products has to do two things: learn to learn from failure as well as success, and learn to embrace the fact that every experimental product is not going to be a home-run. Citrix had to find a way to rightsize early investments in things like product brand development accordingly. 

The Brand Experience team did research with a number of product development teams working on skunkworks projects, working to understand not only what their needs and pain points were from a go to market standpoint, but also understanding the internal cultural needs around product identity that helped successful teams build a sense of critical team identity around their project. We also reached out to necessary functional support teams like marketing and legal that were key advantages a larger company can bring to the table when supporting new product innovations at launch. We then developed and entire brand development and market launch process that helped provide experimental product teams with the support they needed to develop a meaningful identity around their product, and clear guidelines for how to deal with everything from visual identity to how to – and just as critically from a brand management standpoint – how not to leverage the larger Citrix brand. We ended up developing an entire umbrella brand that accommodated all new experimental products, which were subsequently launched under the Citrix Labs sub-brand. This included significant work done to help clean-up and align critical account ownership roles across Apple and Google app store endpoints.
The Innovation: Help Citrix leadership learn to learn from failure as well as success, and explicitly embrace the fact that every experimental product is not going to be a home-run.

With clear guidelines in place, app store accounts realigned, an integrated launch process that brought in not only product teams, but marketing and legal teams as well, and executive buy-in on a new Citrix Labs brand and identity system, and the requisite guidelines in-place and socialized to product teams around the world, a launch process that had been taking many months was accelerated to less than three weeks. Discoverability of new products was radically increased as well, as a unified Citrix Labs publisher account on Google Play and Apple apps stores enabled customers to easily find all of these new Citrix experimental products. Experiments got to market faster, so Citrix was able to experiment more, and product teams were able to focus on product design and development, not reinventing the brand development and launch process. It wasn't Perfect, but it was pretty darn Good.