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White Bear met with Giles Rhys Jones, the CMO of What3words, at our London Tech Week event to chat innovation, serendipity, and the importance of brand storytelling. We wanted to touch on a few of our favourite bits here, but you can watch the whole talk on our Youtube channel. Here’s what we learned…
Going B2B

By going B2B, What3Words was able to change a lot of behaviour much quicker than by going directly to each consumer. Jones went on to explain:
“I want to talk a little bit about the way that we market. People think the world is well addressed, or they believe that current street addressing is adequate. So, we’ve got quite a lot of behaviour to change. The way that we do this is by going B2B. We pitch our solution to businesses. We help them integrate, and then we work with those businesses to tell the customers about us. Those customers then tell each other about What3words, and it keeps going round.

Our first ambitious innovator, our first champion in the UK police forces, started with Nick from Bedfordshire. He started using What3words for fly tipping. Now 85% of the emergency services in the UK are using What3words. Which goes on to my next point, which is creating serendipity. This is incredibly difficult to measure and you’re never quite sure whether it’s going to work or not.”
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The Importance of Serendipity

What3words never underestimates the power of serendipity. Relationship building is a huge part of a brand’s success and Jones and his team never lose sight of this no matter their growth.
“A great example was when we were mentioned in the Mercedes Benz board meeting where they were deciding whether to put What3words in the car or not. Someone in the room said, “Has anybody heard of this company?” And a chap who just got back from a holiday in Ireland pulled out the magazine and said, “I’ve got this magazine, these guys are a thing.” You’re never entirely sure what’s going to work and what isn’t. You’ve just got to keep momentum and keep moving fast. And we do that on everything.

We do that on our product development, on our marketing and advertising, as well as our business development. We spend 80% of our time and budget working on things that we know work well. LinkedIn advertising, Facebook advertising, events. Then we spend 20% of our time looking at measurable innovation. Things that might not work, but we want to give them a go.”

Rebranding What3words was key to giving the brand longevity and mass appeal. Out of the box design thinking allowed them to create an entirely new social symbol, a hashtag for location.
“Recently we redid our brand identity, and we ended up changing it quite considerably. The idea behind the three slashes is that while it represents words, it also mimics a ‘W’. Designed in this particular way so it could be written really easily by hand but it also could also be typed. We wanted to create a hashtag for location. We dreamt that this might happen, and then it did last year when a guy reported a leak.

All he did was type in three slashes followed by three words. The company that he sent it to immediately recognised it as our logo and the fact that it was a What3words address. So designing for longevity and for the masses is important.”
Listen to the rest here.
Enjoyed this conversation? Then please check out our conversation with Ugly Drinks Co-founder Joe Benn.
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