In conversation with

Naomi Walkland

Associate Director, EMEA Marketing at Bumble

Naomi Walkland

Introduction

Introduction

Amongst other things, we’ll remember 2020 as the year that online dating turned virtual.

Over the last couple of months, Bumble UK have found a way of creating connection in their community, through digital dial-ins with the likes of Clara Amfo and Maya Jama. Behind the scenes, we’ve been working with them to create a new tone of voice, one that locates the brand in the UK – with uplifting confidence, brave sincerity and relatable (aka British) wit.

The social app creates a safe space for women to make the first move in dating, business and friendship. Bumble’s USP is knowing that their customer – primarily women – wants to feel empowered and connected.

Naomi oversees all of Bumble’s marketing and comms across Europe, which means catering to multiple audiences under one brand vision. We spoke to Naomi about brand values, standing out amongst the crowd and what makes a great marketing campaign.

Question and Answer

In a global company like Bumble, how does the approach to marketing differ between territories?

We take a local first approach to marketing Bumble in new territories. We always use a combination of cultural research and user research and insights to make sure we’re responding appropriately. We then take the essence of our brand values and DNA to ensure it makes sense for the local market. For example in Berlin – which is the base for most of our German activity – we’re a little bit more bold, daring and full of attitude compared to some of our other markets in Europe. We’re also quick in listening to what our local markets want and need to respond, and that really sets us apart from other global brands – I think that can be seen in the work that we’ve done around virtual connection right now.

What do you think makes Bumble stand out in the online dating world?

The first and most obvious differentiator is that Bumble attracts women who want to make the first move, and in turn men who respect that – and the same applies for thise in same-sex relationships as either can make the first move. Because of this, I think that from the moment you match with someone there’s a different tone to the conversation. We’ve also completely transformed from a dating app to so much more – we’re a social networking app empowering women in dating, friendship and business. We’re the first app of its kind where opportunities for romantic, platonic and professional connections are available in one place across three modes.

What are the challenges in ‘promoting’ online dating?

Our main challenge is how quickly the landscape is changing and we need to be quick to adjust. Our second challenge is: how do we clearly articulate that our brand is unique and matters to the world? But I also find this an opportunity. We’re really reactive and quick to respond – that speed and agility helps us really move with the landscape.

Bumble is known for its collaborations with brands – what makes a great marketing partnership match?

Good partnerships need to be built around:

– Shared DNA and similar values – there must be some sort of synergy to really ensure that it’s culturally relevant.

– 50/50 – there’s got to be a mutual benefit for both brands as well.

– Trust and transparency – you’ve got to be very honest about what you’re trying to achieve and being clear with your communication.

– Putting the effort in – you can only get from a partnership what you put in and vice versa.

– Relevance – it needs to be adding value for your audience.

What stories is Bumble most interested in telling and why?

First is always our community, because they’re the heart and soul of our company. Theirs are the most important, from success stories in dating to meeting a business partner to finding a friend who becomes a roommate – that’s our lifeline and our business. So the stories of our users will be the most important. Secondly I’d say stories of our mission, values and what we stand for. As a social networking platform that is created by women but is for everyone, our goal is for all genders to make meaningful connections. Our mission is around advancing gender equality, to be a safe and healthy space.

How do you help new team members understand the personality of Bumble?

The first thing is that when I’m interviewing, I’m looking out for somebody who loves the brand, gets the values and what we stand for – a lot of people who apply or join the team are already drawn to Bumble because of its personality. Then we have a brand induction, where they’ll spend time with me and other members of the team, both within the UK but also the US, to make sure they have a good understanding of who we are. We also  get them to read our brand bible, and now our new tone of voice guidelines that Sonder & Tell have created for us. I think it takes a while to get into what a brand personality really is and what we stand for, so it takes practice. A lot of my role – as well as other managers – will be crafting and shaping that understanding of Bumble’s tonality and voice.

Do you have a favourite Bumble marketing campaign?

I’m loving the work we’re doing around virtual connection at the moment. Everything we’re doing is about trying to add value to our community, and I think we’ve taken such a consumer-centric approach. From partnering with Uber Eats to launching a live series of IGTV chats with Clara Amfo where we have different guests on each week – talking about the highs and lows, the dos and don’ts of virtual dating right now – to our video on staying Close From Afar which we released a couple of weeks ago. I’m enjoying the work that we’re doing and I’m proud of the contribution that we’re making, and it’s great to hear members of our community tell us that this is really relevant.

What are the three most important things to consider when crafting a marketing campaign?

Consumer-first – if you want your brand to succeed, you need to put your users first. That approach will always mean you have empathy towards your community. Consumer-first strategy is a combination of research, user insights and market trends, but also gut instinct.

Relevance – is it relevant, will people care?

Impact and growth – every campaign should drive growth and be aligned to both the business and commercial objectives.

We recently worked with your team on writing a new set of tone of voice guidelines for the UK and Ireland. Do you find it easier to imagine Bumble’s tone now? Tell us a bit more about it in your own words?

It’s been so useful for myself and the team! What you have produced for us has really helped us find our brand voice and how we use it as well on different communications channels. We now have this really clear image and we’re able to personify Bumble in writing, and you can see the results of that in our social media. We can just get into that mindset of the tone of voice and thinking like a ‘girl’s best friend’. It’s been a central reference point for us and kept our voice consistent. I think what you’ve created for us, and tone of voice guidelines in general, are essential to brand building and our community.

The Storylist

Naomi's Storylist

Books

  1. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  2. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  3. Outliers by Malcom Gladwell
  4. Grit by Angela Duckworth

Magazines

  1. Courier
  2. T Magazine
  3. Sunday Times Style
  4. Riposte

Newsletters

  1. Courier Weekly
  2. Femstreet
  3. No Mercy, No Malice by Scott Galloway
  4. The Sociology Of Business by Ana Andjelic
  5. Business Of Fashion
  6. Techcrunch

Podcasts

  1. Desert Island Discs
  2. How I Built This
  3. Goop
  4. Super Soul Conversations
  5. HBR Ideacast
  6. Out Of Office

Digital Platforms

  1. Bumble
  2. Headspace

Websites

  1. The New York Times
  2. The Cut
  3. Financial Times
  4. New Yorker
  5. Harvard Business Review
  6. Medium
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