The Brand that Transformed an Industry

By Kyle Denhoff

(Editor’s note: The photo above is courtesy of Martin Girard / Costumes: Philippe Guillotel © 2014 Cirque du Soleil.)

With grace and imagination, Cirque du Soleil has transformed the circus into a unique performing art. Their world-renowned shows captivate audiences and evoke extraordinary emotions. So what can enterprise businesses learn from one of the most creative brands in the world?

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Florent Bayle-Labouré, senior director of brand management and synergy at Cirque du Soleil, to discuss the customer experience.

Bayle-Labouré gave me a sneak peek into the company’s unique way of thinking and operating. He shared how Cirque du Soleil uses organic and organized customer feedback to drive the audience experience. He also discussed how Cirque du Soleil plans to “go bigger” with their brand.

Here are two lessons Bayle-Labouré taught me at simple@work 2015 in London.

Lesson #1: Feedback is Essential

To improve the customer experience, businesses must be better listeners than ever. Bayle-Labouré explained, “There are two types of feedback: the organic and the organized.”

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The organic is the live feedback you get every night. It is the emotion customers feel when interacting with your brand. In entertainment, this is easily measured – by applause.  Enterprise organizations need to learn how to capture and then focus on how they are making their customers feel.  Then that feeling needs to become consistent.

Organized feedback is very common and includes customer surveys, social reviews and marketing research. This data-driven approach allows Cirque du Soleil to make strategic decisions about their shows and other industry initiatives.

The key here is the balance between emotion and numbers. Businesses that strike that balance can transform an industry.

Lesson #2: Transforming Entertainment

Bayle-Labouré believes it is very important to apply your creative strategy to transform your industry continuously. In 1984, Cirque du Soleil redefined circus.  Today, they are taking that same sweeping approach to nightclubs and children’s television, among other sectors.

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I asked him how Cirque du Soleil plans to scale their experience into new cities and shows. “It’s not so much a question of scaling the experience, but more a question of what is coming next in entertainment,” said Bayle-Labouré. Businesses need to look at their industry and figure out how they can be the disruptors.

Bayle-Labouré shared that Cirque du Solei is continuously looking to transform. He said enterprises should ask, “How can you transform what already exists?”

The Customer Experience is Ever-Changing

No matter your industry, your brand is the most important element of your business. “A brand,’’ says marketing evangelist Seth Godin, “is the set of expectations, promises, memories, stories, and relationships, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service or another.”

Xerox is an official sponsor of Cirque du Soleil. Learn more at

Bayle-Labouré taught me that we must continue to evolve. The experience your customers have with your brand is instrumental to success. Listen to your customers. Notice how they feel when they interact with your brand. Use data and organized feedback to steer the experiences you create for them. And most importantly, never settle.

Your industry is always evolving. Once you have transformed an industry with your brand, experiment in new verticals. How can your brand apply itself to other industries and provide even more experiences for your customers?

We are in times of revolution and businesses that don’t adapt, won’t survive very long.

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