Lee Hayhurst visited the base of the customer communications software specialist to find out from its founder and CEO Colin Brimson about its recent rebrand and hopes for the future
Company Profile: Push for carbon neutral comms at heart of d-flo's new mission
Following the huge challenges that COVID-19 posed for travel and technology firms there are a number of key indicators to look out for that point to things getting into full recovery mode.
Obviously for any software providers winning new business and retaining existing clients is absolutely vital, and then there’s the resuming of both recruitment and marketing activity to drive further growth.
Customer communications software developer d-flo says it is ticking all these boxes having brought in a new marketing manager five months ago, kickstarted recruitment and started planning to resume its developer graduate programme.
But the tech specialist has also underlined its confidence in the future with a rebrand unveiled last month that is not just skin deep but which, according to founder and chief executive Colin Brimson, has given the firm a renewed sense of purpose.
Brimson welcomed Travolution to d-flo’s base nestled on a street corner among a row of terraced Victorian properties on the outskirts of Windsor to talk us through the bold new corporate identity the firm is presenting to the market as travel rebuilds.
On the outside wall the new d-flo logo is proudly displayed against an eye-catching black background. A small square is a visual link to the old logo which was made up of many such blocks symbolising dynamic flows of documents and data, which explains the company’s name.
But it is the square’s colour that is the key to understanding the rebrand and the renewed purpose that d-flo has discovered during COVID, almost 12 years on from when it was founded.
“The key thing for us was we have been investing for many years into our technology and products but somewhat complacent on our brand and company purpose.
“We wanted to reinvigorate both and strengthen our proposition to the market. We feel, if anything, there’s a greater need and requirement for what we do but we feel we need to explain that better to help people understand.
“Great customer communications have become more and more critical over the last few years as firms have had to rely on communicating at a distance to retain customers.
“It’s more at the forefront of people’s minds and that gives us a really good springboard to move forward. And hence the company’s new ‘making every communication matter’ strap line.”
D-flo’s core product TravelComms personalises post-booking communications and powers ‘immersive journeys’ for its clients to improve the customer experience and to help them capitalise on additional sources of revenue.
But at the core of “sharpening the firm’s story” is a focus on making those communications more sustainable and better for the environment, hence green becoming the focal colour of the company’s identity.
D-flo is on a mission to not only extol the value of moving to digital comms but to also educate the travel industry that even this form of communicating with customers has an environmental footprint.
Every email or SMS sent has an equivalent carbon cost, the more so the bigger the attachments or richer the content being sent.
“The green block is a nod to our past, but being green is our now our key focus. It’s now a spotlight on us,” Brimson says.
D-flo launched Tree during COVID at the end of last year, a three-pronged initiative which sees it calculate and offset CO2 emissions for all communications sent through its platform, mitigates travel’s impact by planting trees on behalf of clients and works with them to educate the trade and public.
Each of d-flo’s its clients has been issued a certificate confirming this commitment for the lifetime of their contract.
Brimson says d-flo’s recommendation is that all customer information and documents are securely accessed online so the email or SMS acts as a trigger to request the recipient to view and download, rather than sending them data-heavy attachments.
As well as good environmental practice, Brimson said this is far better for data security. “When sending messages out there’s a security aspect but there’s also a carbon consideration as well. The more emails you send out with attachments, the great the risk and the greater the carbon footprint is going to be.
“Companies need to make their communications more immersive, adding value to the customer journey, not just being a means to sending great documentation but great communications in a way that’s carbon conscious.”
In striving to be transparent and informative for its clients, d-flo works with an organisation called ecologi which has become embedded in the core of its business.
This allows it to send its customers annual reports on the footprint of their communications and to share details of the carbon offset and reforestation projects it is helping to support.
So far this year d-flo has offset 316 tonnes of carbon and planted over 40,000 trees and forecasts it will hit up to 500 tonnes of carbon and 60,000 trees by the end of the year.
It hopes to have made it on to the ecologi top 100 global leaderboard for offsetting by Christmas and is aiming to achieve net-zero certified status as an endorsement of its green credentials.
“We are also analysing every single aspect of our business,” Brimson says. “Ecologi would soon enable us to undertake a complete carbon audit to calculate the company’s complete carbon footprint which we have internally working on minimising for the past 18 months.
“We do not off-shore any of our product development or client services and we carbon offset all our travel and each team member’s professional and personal carbon footprint annually.
“The core of our technology is in the cloud and through our new Tree initiative we are carbon offsetting it’s impact. And we ensure – where possible – any surplus office equipment is donated for reuse for others to benefit from.
“Tree has been greatly appreciated by our clients with much of the feedback on how we are leading the way in providing sustainable technology and the hope that others will follow.
“But we’re very aware of the enormous challenge in making it financially feasible without it having any direct cost to your product and services. That was the most critical objective – being able to implement it with no net increase in costs to our clients.
“Naturally, this impacts our bottom line but it makes us a more environmentally conscious company aware of our impact and it gives us a greater purpose. It’s meaningful for everyone.
“There has to be a purpose to what we are doing. Historically it was building great technology that delivered great value and going above and beyond to maximise this for our clients. But that’s not enough today.
“Our mission statement now is very clear and it’s deeply engrained in our business. We now have a greater purpose that echoes our clients’ and their customers.”
Brimson said he is very confident about the future. “We have navigated Brexit and COVID and now with a reinforced mission, purpose and proposition we are looking forward with a new energy.
“We are just launching a new campaign about ‘solutions that power travel’ and how we can help overcome the latest challenges that the industry faces.
“This is about helping clients drive new bookings by helping them differentiate their brand to turn intent into bookings and maximise revenues throughout the booking flow.
“We’re very aware of the cost-of-living increases and its likely impact on disposable income and consequently travel.
“But we’re equally confident that this will further accelerate digital transformation, brand differentiation and customer experience. All the things that we help our clients to achieve.”