Kristi Melani’s vision board always had a long-term goal to become a chief marketing officer. Now, at mobile identity solution company TeleSign, she’s living out her dream every day as CMO.
She attributes this long-game determination to the fact that she craves a role that oversees it all, whether that’s creating cohesion between marketing disciplines, building blueprints for the teams she oversees or affecting a company’s strategic vision. Another key element that’s drawn Melani into those roles? Implementing positivity.
“Leading with the positive has always been a marketing mantra of mine,” Melani said. “Sure, you can scare people into buying something, but is that what creates a true brand advocate? Is that what gets employees feeling good about what they do every day?”
That’s why, when TeleSign CEO Joe Burton reached out about launching a new mission and mindset centered around “Continuous Trust,” she couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Knowing that TeleSign wanted to lead with the positive by building a mission that was ownable — and that every team member could be proud of — is when the idea truly came to life. “We’re in the trust business,” Melani said.
After showcasing the new messaging and visuals for the rollout initiative with employees for the first time, a shared silence took the virtual room as team members began beaming with pride. There wasn’t a moment of doubt that this was the perfect fit for the company going forward; the team believed that they had created something special.
“I like to think of it like this: Let TeleSign do the technical behind-the-scenes work to make your consumers safe, so you — our customers — can focus on developing great online experiences,” Melani said. “Living in a world where you don’t have to worry about fraud, account takeovers, friction-filled onboarding — that’s a world worth living in.”
Continuous Trust, just freshly launched to the public, will foster that sense of subconscious security and second-nature protection to their customers as its adoption spreads. That’s because it’s not only a mission, but a promise, that its creators believe in.
A Company of Protection
Nice to meet you, Kristi. What’s your role and what are your responsibilities at TeleSign?
I’ve been the chief marketing officer since August 2021, pulling together all facets of marketing: growth, communication, integrated marketing and operations. I also take my role as a member of the executive team very seriously, so building teams quickly while creating charters, service level agreements and marketing plans is key. I create blueprints for my team, and then let them go and conquer!
What does Continuous Trust mean to you, and how has it impacted the work you do every day?
I must admit, there have been times in my career where I have said, “Don’t worry too much, we just make ‘insert widget or product here.’” I never say that at TeleSign, and never will. Knowing that what we are doing is creating a digital economy that is trustworthy for everyone makes me proud. This mission makes me get out of bed and realize that we are doing something that is impacting the world for the better. I see value in what we do.
How has this shaped your current company culture? What stands out most?
When we first rolled out Continuous Trust as our new category, the internal Slack messages immediately started popping up.
“We love it!”
“This feels great!”
“This is something we can be proud of. I can sell trust!”
It was a rally cry for everyone to take note of what we are all doing here, together. As we started to share how to tell the story, and had others tell their own version, it was that quick realization that everyone has a story on how their digital world was rocked at one point or another. Whether it was “my son accidentally charging thousands of dollars on an app and the app didn’t catch it,” or someone experiencing an account takeover, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t have a personal story to tell. Once team members saw how it wove into their lives, everyone came together and the new positioning became part of the daily narrative.
“Leading with understanding and walking in the shoes of your prospects is something we all need to do — no matter the industry.”
How does Continuous Trust impact your customers?
The story resonates. Knowing that we are there for our customers — in the background, all the time — gives them confidence that we have them protected. If our customer can focus on the strategic business initiatives while we focus on making them a trustworthy brand, it’s a win-win for all.
Making our customers part of our storytelling is key. We recently had our sales kickoff and we got to hear from our sales leaders on how our messaging is resonating with the market. When you can have sales take it out for a spin, and then hear that it’s working to open virtual doors, that is the definition of true success.
What kind of collaboration across departments at TeleSign has been necessary while working on the rollout of this project?
I am a big fan of pressure testing the messaging and creative positioning, so I typically have the team start with sales. They are the front line. Sales hears what our customers want, need, say and feel. If a message resonates with sales, or you can get sales to test it out for you before a wide scale roll out, that is the best research you can do. Also, testing globally is important. It seems like a no-brainer, but it’s crucial to remind ourselves that what works in the U.S. may not work elsewhere. We are a very global-centric organization, so we need to make sure the messaging sticks in all languages and in all locations.
I often find that human resources is next. HR must embody the positioning of the company and work it into our internal materials, our values, our KPIs and our recruiting efforts. It’s a fine line between collaboration debilitation to true strategic group solutions, but it’s worth always finding that balance.
“Tell the story, over and over and over again. Make it topical. Make it seasonal.”
One last question. What initiatives or events does Continuous Trust allow TeleSign to plan for in the future?
It’s about sticking with the story. Companies often find themselves switching too quickly. Creative fatigue hits us and we feel compelled to change things, but the audience doesn’t experience the same fatigue. Tell the story, over and over and over again. Make it topical. Make it seasonal. Be part of the news as trends pivot, but always stick to the core.
I also think marketing and selling with empathy is a must. Leading with understanding and walking in the shoes of your prospects is something we all need to do — no matter the industry. It makes all of us more successful when marketers are true to the brand and can deliver on a brand promise, because it makes the customers trust messaging across the board.