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Launching the Leonardo Brand: Q&A with SAP’s Jim Dever and Susan Miller

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In May 2017, SAP launched a new brand of technologies – named after Leonardo Da Vinci – as a way to build its reputation as one of technology’s contemporary household names and to further SAP’s mission to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. To introduce the Leonardo brand – which combines SAP’s technologies around AI, machine learning, analytics, blockchain and connected devices – we took an integrated approach to galvanize industry influencers and launch “Live” regional events to establish the brand. Leonardo launched at SAP SAPPHIRE in 2017, with more than 60 influencer engagements, which included Gartner, Huffington Post, Automation World, ZDNet, IDC,, Forbes and a wide variety of independent voices and pundits.

Following SAPPHIRE, SAP hosted inaugural “Leonardo Live” events in North America and Germany, with the customer’s voice reinforcing the impact, credibility and value of SAP Leonardo. More than 30 customer and partner-led sessions and 15 showcases were shared with 2,500+ attendees across Chicago, New York, Palo Alto and Frankfurt. The regional events were the perfect launching pad for its global network of Leonardo Centers; new industry accelerators for life sciences, oil and gas and mining.

SAP increased its share of voice by nearly 60 percent against top multinational competition as a result of this new communication strategy. The marketing launch was so successful that it has been nominated for a Silver Anvil and SABRE gold award.

As we look to expand the Leonardo brand in 2018, I took a few minutes to chat with Jim Dever, Head of Global Audience Marketing, and Susan Miller, SVP, Head of Platform Public Relations, two of the key architects of the strategy for SAP Leonardo.

Astor: What prompted you to look beyond media and at the influencer landscape as you launched the Leonardo brand?

Dever: We respect the power of third-party voices who influence our buying audiences and the broader market place.  We wanted to launch SAP Leonardo to help our customers better understand transformative technologies and were eager to work with industry thought leaders who share our views on digital innovation.

Miller: For me, it was important that we reach a broader audience, and many of the influencers have significant followings within audiences we haven’t tapped into. Also, influencers are more flexible – they don’t just need breaking news – they like education and digging into the technology and market need at an in-depth level, which is appealing when trying to launch a brand and tell a story.

Astor: How impactful was the inclusion of influencers in launching the brand?

Dever: The influencers who joined us at the launch event at SAPPHIRE helped to amplify the message through live stream videos and social activity that drove share of voice. The accompanying eBook – which included insights from 32 influencers – was timed to launch with [SAP CEO] Bill McDermott’s keynote announcement, creating additional impact and attracting longer-term interest.

Miller: By directly engaging influencers as part of the Leonardo launch, we were able to reach a much broader audience via a myriad of channels. Influencers are much more willing to use newer mediums like Facebook Live, so it helped us bring the story to the market in new and different ways.

Astor: Why did you determine that “Live” events should be a critical part of your marketing strategy?

Dever: Physical events strengthen communities. While third-party influencers, partners, press, customers and analysts interact virtually every day on social media, events present opportunities where they can “touch and feel” digital technology and interact with peers who are successfully adopting new digital business models.

Miller: The Live events also helped us bring the Leonardo message to specific regions and focus on customer examples that could be featured at those events to prospects to make it more personal to the attendees. For example, in Chicago, our primary audience was new manufacturers – it helped us to connect with influencers focused on this industry because we had customers in the manufacturing industry there to tell their stories on how Leonardo helped them.

Astor: How has your partnership with PAN impacted overall share of voice as well as the brand’s gains in the past year?

Dever: PAN has helped keep an eye on the broader marketplace, identifying voices within and outside the press. They consistently find new opportunities to promote thought leadership, news about SAP Leonardo innovation and ways that digital technology is affecting the world around us.

Miller: PAN was instrumental in making the launch and Live events successful. The team worked hard to keep us on track and present creative ideas. We have a really great team dynamic with PAN and the support and counsel they give us is invaluable.

Astor: If you could give one piece of advice to companies looking to launch a new brand or solution in a crowded market with a depleted media landscape, what would it be?

Dever: It all depends on how it fits as an extension of your existing brand and what your value proposition is.  With SAP Leonardo, we’re helping customers innovate faster with less risk by adopting technology like AI, Blockchain, Big Data and IoT in ways that integrate into their overall business strategy. The business process integration is what creates value and has always differentiated SAP.

Miller: I would say it’s important to look for audiences you haven’t reached that can help you amplify the new message you are trying to establish. Those audiences and influencers will direct you on how to find new ways to bring the information to prospects and customers.

Astor: Who would be more impressed with the Leonardo launch – da Vinci or DiCaprio?

Dever: Leonardo da Vinci – he is the inspiration for the brand name.

Miller: I hope Leonardo DiCaprio would be! In fact, it’s the 20th anniversary of Titanic and the SAP Leonardo launch should be just as memorable.


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In our annual Brand Experience Report, we asked marketers and customers how they are using and experiencing AI to better understand how the technology is changing that relationship.