Waze.jpg

HOW DOES A SOCIAL COMMUTING APP GO FROM BEING A
SMALL START-UP TO A GLOBAL GIANT, SOLD FOR MORE THAN $1B?

MAKE THEM FALL IN LOVE WITH YOUR PRODUCT.


PROJECT

 
 

I came on to lead marketing communications at Waze before the company had even formally launched in the US, working alongside very talented designers, to build the brand from scratch. Given that we spent next to nothing on paid acquisition, we focused our attention, instead, on developing a brand that people would actually love. It was something we talked about a lot as a team: what it would take for people to love and enthusiastically share something as utilitarian as a navigation app. Our take? A delightful brand experience - one with a distinctive voice, that infused everything starting from the onboarding screens, all the way down to the error messages. So, that’s what we delivered.

 

WORK

  • Messaging, positioning, and tagline development

  • Brand voice across all consumer touch points - marketing communications, UX content, promo video scripts, newsletters, etc.

  • Leading various international public relations firms

  • Ideation around various product features

  • Conceptualizing engaging digital campaigns + events

VIDEO CLIPS

In collaboration with Elad Tayar & Roey Regev

 


COMPANY TAGLINE

 
 


PRODUCT CONCEPT

 

One of the concepts I came up with that made its way into the Waze product was the idea of the 'baby wazer'. The purpose was two-fold - having babies on the map, allowed us to gauge new usership in a specific geography, at a quick glance. It also gave users an anchored starting point from which to build upon. After a certain level of contribution to the community, they'd be able to become a grown-up wazer, and pick new moods or rise up the ranks into 'road royalty'. Funnily enough, years later, I took a course on gamification best practices, and 'baby wazer' was called out as a stellar example of bringing game mechanics into a tech product. I didn't say anything, but it made me blush.


CAMPAIGNS

SUCCESSFULY ENGAGING A GLOBAL USERBASE

 

It’s a bit of a challenge to conceive of a promotion that will engage users across a diversity of regions, but riffing off of the worldwide popularity of the World Cup, Waze hosted its very own worldwide FIFA-like competition, challenging users to ‘munch’ (drive over) soccerball ‘road goodies’ (icons on the map, worth points) on behalf of their respective countries for the win. We created a week of tournament-style global competition, then narroved it down to the top four countries who were pit against one another in a final showdown. The country with the most points had three winners receiving iPads – a hot new item, at the time. With dozens and dozens of countries participating, user engagement was off the charts, resulting in an extremely successful campaign that was replicated a number of times to come in the years that followed.

 

GIVING USERS A STAKE IN THE BUILDING OF THE BRAND

 

What better way to involve our users than by inviting them to crowd-source both a new product demo as well as a new company tagline? For the video demo, we gave them basic guidelines of which features to hit and an overall view of what kind of vibe we were going for, and then it was up to them to execute as creatively as they wanted. Obviously, the tagline competition was a much lower bar to entry and generated hundreds of submissions. While we didn’t actually end up officially adopting the winner, seen to the right here, we loved seeing the thinking that went into our users’ submissions, and felt that it was a successful campaign, simply by asking them to bring our product and their creativity into relationship with one another for the few minutes they they took to brainstorm their submissions
 

LEVERAGING PARTNERSHIPS FOR CAMPAIGNS FOR SOCIAL GOOD

 

I instituted a tradition for us to do something each Thanksgiving that ‘gave back’, and one year we partnered with Feeding America and Foursquare to do just that. Users could use Waze to navigate to local foodbanks that were temporarily visible on the map, and after making their contribution, could check-in via Foursquare to take thier contribution to the next level. For each check-in, we donated $1 to Feeding America. A win/win for all parties involved.
 

EVEN IF THEY LOSE, GIVING USERS A CHANCE TO DREAM A LITTLE

 

As our userbase and campaign budgets grew, we were able to conceive and execute far fancier campaigns to engage the worldwide community of Wazers. One such campaign was the ‘With Waze, You’re Going Places’ contest, which used a custom built widget for people to invite three of their friends - ostensibly ones that they’d like to travel with - to download Waze. The idea was that we’d pick one lucky winner who would then be able to decide where in the world they, and their three friends, wanted to go, and we’d pick up the tab for plane tickets of up to $2000 each. We figured that folks were already ‘going places’ with us by car, and we wanted to allow them to take the notion of ‘going places’ one step further. While there was only one winner + three of her friends, we gave hundreds of people the chance to dream a little about where they might go if they were to win, and we believed that, too, created a positive brand experience.
 

 

GIVING PASSIONATE USERS A CHANCE TO DREAM A LITTLE

In honor of Valentine’s Day one year, we challenged our loyal global fanbase to outdo one another by creating a video loveletter for Waze. Arrogant? Perhaps. But users loved the opportunity. Giving them plenty of lead time to create masterpieces, we were delighted to see how much time and care people put into their video loveletters. Peer voting determined the winner, who received a MacBook Air. Take a look hereherehere and here to see some of our favorite submissions, they’re great!

 

RESULTS

By the time I left Waze, after 3+ years with the company, we had grown from a few thousand early adopters to a global userbase of well over 25 million passionate users, in 100+ countries. A number of months later, Google took notice, acquiring the company for $1.1B.

Yael Elish, Product & Marketing VP, Waze:

"As a key team member of a tiny product and marketing group, Alli had a central role in the creation of the Waze product and brand from the ground up. She was responsible for numerous parts of the brand and overall messaging, and was 'the voice' of Waze, and in that capacity wrote all collateral, clips, and communications. She had many creative ideas that have been implemented into the product, general marketing and social media and was also responsible for organizing community events and meet-ups as well as recruiting and interacting with our worldwide PR agencies, and did so in a very professional way. Alli is extremely creative, responsible and driven. It has been a pleasure to work with her over the past 3 years."