Article first published on sourceforge.net, 5 April 2021 | see article here
Below is a Q&A session with Paula Sartini, founder and CEO at BrandQuantum International. Paula is an analytical thinker who solves business problems with innovative solutions. For over 20 years Paula has helped leading organisations overcome various business challenges. Having studied commerce, branding and marketing coupled with solid business acumen and an entrepreneurial spirit, Paula has an innate ability to logically solve problems with creative solutions. In 2014 Paula established BrandQuantum, a software company that addresses business branding challenges in the digital age. Before this, she established and ran an award-winning branding agency.
Please share with us a brief overview of your company? When was BrandQuantum established and what inspired you to start the company?
BrandQuantum was established by Paula Sartini, founder and CEO at BrandQuantum, in 2014. Before this, she established and ran an award-winning brand agency where she worked with several companies at the time to help them overcome their brand challenges. This experience made her realise that while companies have stringent brand guidelines to help them to achieve brand consistency in all their branding, putting this into practice was a huge challenge for them.
BrandQuantum was established to provide an easier way for companies to overcome their brand consistency challenges and help them to make changes to their branded collateral, such as letterheads, and roll these out quickly and easily to the rest of the organisation. Having worked closely with BrandQuantum’s clients to understand the pain points they face, BrandQuantum developed BrandMail to deliver secure, tamperproof email signatures and consistent email branding and banners across entire organisations.
What industries do you serve and who are some of your current customers?
BrandQuantum’s brand consistency software solutions are suitable for organisations across a broad range of industries including financial services, education, legal, consulting, telecommunications, pharmaceutical, and more. We serve some of South Africa’s leading banks and schools as well as the JSE, the largest stock exchange in Africa, and Strate, South Africa’s principal central securities depository and central collateral platform. We also work with leading companies around the world to deliver brand consistency across all documents, presentations, worksheets and emails.
What is a BrandMail and how does it work? What makes it important for businesses today?
According to Statista, roughly 306.4 billion emails were sent and received each day in 2020. This figure is expected to increase to over 361.6 billion daily emails in 2024. With the rise in email usage as a business tool, BrandMail helps companies to use every email as a branding opportunity. BrandMail is a cloud-based solution that seamlessly integrates into Microsoft Outlook to allow customizable email signatures to be centrally managed and empowers every employee across an organisation to deliver consistent brand experiences using tamperproof, secure email signatures, banners and a digital business card called a BrandMe page.
The BrandMail ribbon within Outlook provides complete brand management from within the email. And it allows for employees to access on-brand colours, fonts, pre-developed content and attach approved collateral directly from within the ribbon.
What are some of the most pressing issues with the recent shift towards remote work today? How is BrandMail helping companies to overcome these?
According to a study conducted by Egress, 94% of organisations are sending more emails due to the Covid-19 lockdowns in various countries across the globe which is driving the remote workforce. This makes brand consistency a bigger challenge for companies than ever before. With BrandMail we help companies to achieve consistency of brand with one product offering across platforms.
Our permission-based access to standardised content and centralised management of the email branding elements means that employees can access the documents and information they need directly from within BrandMail and all email content from the secure, tamperproof email signature to the banners and email content are compliant and on-brand.
Tell us more about BrandMail. What are its key features and capabilities? How does it compare to other email signature offerings available in the market?
BrandMail offers email consistency from on-brand email content to email signatures and banners that appear on every sent email. The solution also offers added benefits that make it a secure email branding solution, these include:
- Designed with segmentation of risk in mind which means it uses independent silos to safeguard the content of the email as the content is not associated with the context of the email
- BrandMail has been independently pen tested and meets European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act security standards
- BrandMail’s tamperproof email signatures and on-brand banners appear on every sender’s emails so they can see what recipients will see
- Users have access to use pre-developed content to ensure all content is on-brand
- Frequently used email attachments are easily attached directly from the BrandMail ribbon
- BrandMail provides employees with access to approved brand resources, such as brochures, collateral, case studies and rate cards, directly from the Outlook ribbon
- The built-in search functionality enables users to access the BrandMail search toolbars to find relevant content for use in emails from attachments, links, videos and media coverage directly from within Outlook.
How can BrandMail aid in email data security?
According to Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report, almost a third of data breaches in 2018 involved phishing activity. Avanan puts this into perspective, stating that one in every 99 emails is a phishing attack which amounts to 4.8 phishing emails per employee per five-day week, with one in 25 branded emails being a phishing scam. Further 30% of these emails make it past default security resulting in over 83% of people having received phishing emails.
To avoid financial and brand damage, companies need to incorporate layered security to help prevent customers and employees from falling victim to BEC. While the basic security measures should be the minimum requirement, companies also need to focus on their email branding and how they can help both employees and customers to recognise authentic emails, giving them peace of mind that your emails can be opened and responded to.
However, in addition to having a consistently branded email signature, the solution should not compromise the security of employees or customers. As such BrandMail has been designed with security at its core with segmentation of risk in mind. BrandMail uses independent silos to safeguard the content of the email as the content is not associated with the context of the email. This is key to preventing security breaches and keeping employee and customer data secure. To give additional peace of mind that emails are secure, BrandMail has been independently pen-tested and meets European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act security standards.
According to Statista, approximately 4.3 billion people around the world will be using email by 2023. This means that more people are likely to fall prey to hackers who use malware emails to gain personal data.
With Thycotic.com finding that 80% of hackers say that humans are the most responsible for security breaches, how can BrandMail help people not fall victim to spoofing emails?
Although there are several email scams for consumers to be aware of, the most concerning are Business Email Compromise (BEC) which, according to Avanan, combines several categories using phishing, spoofing impersonation and social engineering to extract monetary gain. These emails often prey on trust and appear to be legitimate as they carry email addresses and logos that resemble the business the scammer aims to imitate. As these emails look authentic, they are easily susceptible to falling victim to identity theft.
To give recipients peace of mind that the emails are authentic, BrandMail has built-in verification that allows users to verify the emails sent from one BrandMail user to another with a pass/fail verification report. In addition, users can check if the content of the email has been tampered with when receiving replies to emails.
Looking into the future, what are some market trends or technologies you see on the rise in email branding and how is BrandQuantum meeting these?
With the increase in email as a business communications tool, email branding is going to become more important for marketers and companies that are looking to deliver consistent brand experiences in every customer engagement. The rise of email communication raises concerns around an increase in email threats such as spoofing emails. Companies are going to have to focus more attention on email security and provide a verification mechanism for customers to confirm that emails are authentic. The increase in personal data regulations across the globe will also require that companies implement solutions that do not need to be rerouted and maintain the integrity of the email so that employee and customer personal data remains secure at all times.
Tamperproof email signatures are also going to gain attention as companies strive to demonstrate transparency, provide accurate information about employees and protect recipients from fraudulent emails. Personalisation within marketing continues to grow in importance for both customers and organisations. Emails are going to have to be adaptable to meet the personal needs of recipients, for example, blanket emails and banners will not be suitable and companies will need to adapt these to meet the specific requirements of their customers. As such employees will need to have the ability to edit content according to their customer-specific wants and needs to deliver personal touch experiences.
The term ‘innovation’ can often be written off as an industry buzzword. What does innovation mean to you, and what do you think makes a true innovator?
While innovation means finding new ways to do things and is important, design thinking is about simple elegant design that solves a problem. The key to design thinking is listening to understand what the problem is and then developing a solution that addresses this problem. For example, when our customer had a specific requirement to add Calendly into BrandMail we adapted our solution to do this, another customer needed our BrandMail ribbon to be translated to Chinese so we developed a multilingual ribbon to accommodate for various languages and meet the needs of the users. As such, design thinking overcomes the traditional challenge of leaving the development to the development team without having insight into the end-user environment and needs and this is what makes a true innovator.