PGIM tapped Stagwell Group agency Code and Theory to develop a consistent but flexible platform and design system for its eight independent brand websites.
PGIM will iterate on the platform by creating more opportunities to directly engage with customers, such as through client service portals. The initiative, which spanned PGIM’s internal marketing, tech and analytics teams, is part of a broader effort to get the company running on more cohesive and agile processes.
“They recognized it was not just about building a new website,” said Michael Reddy, group director at Code and Theory. “It was a big step in terms of digital transformation and how they’re reorganizing to address that.”
When Prudential consolidated its global asset management division under the PGIM umbrella (formerly Prudential Investment Management) in 2016, it had eight autonomous brands operating different websites and backend systems. That often translated into a clunky user experience.
PGIM wanted to continue operating its portfolio companies, including PGIM Real Estate, PGIM Associates, Jennison Associates and QMA, autonomously. But it saw an opportunity to consolidate the backend infrastructure to enable more seamless marketing and consumer experiences.
“A key strategy for PGIM was to have some consistency to tie the various brands together, but still allow them to operate independently,” said Reddy.
The agency’s challenge was to walk a line between allowing brands to maintain their autonomy while leveraging the collective power of the group to drive customer acquisition and retention. Each brand wanted to continue running their own websites, content and marketing strategies, but “everybody realizes there is strength in numbers and presenting ourselves as a whole,” Reddy explained.
The platform allows PGIM brands to easily share relevant content and templetize experiences across desktop and mobile web quickly, while enabling contextual prompts for customers at different points in their journey with the brand, said Pat McQueen, senior director of product strategy at Code and Theory.
“Before, they were on such a proliferation of systems, you had a different process for each site, even though it was managed by a central organization,” he said. “A piece of content would have to go through a different CMS and compliance workflows.”
But the system also allows PGIM’s brands, which sometimes sell competitive products, to mitigate competitive concerns by gating access to specific content and experiences, as well as adjust marketing to stay in line with industry- and region-specific compliance laws. In addition to having control over art direction and content distribution, brands can integrate their software of choice for lead generation, customer forums, and more.
“[Each brand] can have a lot of individuality with how they set up their digital presence,” McQueen said, “but when they see certain versions having success, it's easier to duplicate that. That's the point of having that network.”
Consolidating on a central platform has compressed the time it takes to populate content on PGIM brand websites from months to weeks, McQueen said. The new design system also allows PGIM’s brands to create more bite-size and visually appealing content and infographics for users quickly, while moving away from the bulky white paper PDFs typical of financial services marketing.
One of the key benefits of the system is that it enables PGIM brands to respond in real time to current events. For example, a brand could quickly put out a point of view on the Fed deciding to cut interest rates during the pandemic, McQueen said.
“A lot of it relates to speed to market,” he added. “The ability to show up the same day that [a piece of news] is relevant was really critical.”
One challenge of the project, which spanned 18 months, was getting stakeholders across eight different legacy brands on the same page. While the teams were collaborative and saw the potential of operating off a shared system, Code and Theory reassured them that they would maintain their autonomy and distinctiveness.
“We had to do a certain amount of wrangling, but they expected us to help them in that way,” Reddy said.