R/GA's Jehan Leanage on ComfortDelGro's pioneering Zig project

20 April 2021 Consultancy.asia 5 min. read

Over the past months, R/GA helped transportation giant ComfortDelGro launch a groundbreaking lifestyle platform, Zig – an app that links mobility with exploration and new experiences across Singapore. Consultancy.org spoke with R/GA’s executive director for business transformation in Asia Pacific – Jehan Leanage – for insights on how the innovative new brand was developed. 

Keen for a digital-first overhaul, public listed ComfortDelGro – one of the world’s largest land transport companies – called on the consulting industry for transformation proposals. 

Having assessed the pitches, ComfortDelGro selected R/GA. “We got very excited when the call was put out because it was very much in our DNA. The project was essentially building a digital business from the ground up, which is exactly what we do,” said Leanage.

Jehan Leanage, Executive Director for Consulting APAC, R/GA

In designing its bid for ComfortDelGro, R/GA’s team put forward a customer experience-driven approach. At first sight not spectacular in today’s consumer-led economy admitted Leanage, however, “we were determined that this differentiation is key at every level: be it the purpose of the brand and what it stood for; how it was articulated and marketed to consumers; and the value that it brings.” 

Analysis of this deeper level of the consumer’s heartbeat led the team to the pioneering notion to blend mobility with lifestyle. “A slightly unusual combination but we saw an inherent link there,” unpacked Leanage, adding “people use mobility to move from A to B, to connect with people they care about – for a meal, a trip to the shops, a fitness class, etc. The core principle is: People want to try new things, but there is always a lot of friction in the discovery process.” 

Enter Zig. “Mobility is always pinned onto any lifestyle – a core driver that never switches off, like electricity. Zig enables Singaporeans to connect the dots around their travel, remove the friction and inject a new layer of experience to the whole. Singapore is exciting, go try it out – that’s the mindshare we wanted to occupy.”

Fast forward six months and the new brand, platform and app are up and running, complete with a system to monitor performance and evolve the proposition. 

R/GA’s secret sauce

According to Leanage, several factors make R/GA the right fit for delivering a ‘revolution’ like this. For one, “delivering customer experience effectively requires a deep and meaningful understanding of consumer behaviour.” 

“That’s where R/GA’s ‘Connected Brand’ proposition comes strong: it’s been built from the ground up to identify and fill gaps in consumer needs. That’s what differentiates our consulting offering – other advisors focus largely on business fundamentals, we prioritise human behaviour. Our core question is always: How do we use technology to take advantage of shifting consumer behaviour?” 

Second is R/GA’s innovative approach to work. “To deliver a project like this, all strategic disciplines need to work together: we’re talking tech, experience design, brand design, strategy and product management. Everyone has to buy in and align on the same thing. Our model is designed with that in mind, which explains how we launched a product to market in six months.” 

ComfortDelGro partners with R/GA for 'mobility lifestyle' app

Another “unique approach” is combining the tech and creative functions, which enables “creative vision to be brought to life without losing anything in the process.” Indeed, R/GA champions the concept of a creative technologist – a professional who embodies the best of both worlds. According to Leanage, creative technologists take the lead in designing signature experience moments throughout the product. 

End-to-end delivery

“We approached the project with two understandings: the ComfortDelGro master brand needed to be strengthened to appeal to a digital first audience; and ComfortDelGro is a listed company, which meant we needed to assess and manage risk to the master brand.”

An example of the first understanding came in the branding, which already unfolded during the pitch phase. “We wanted to build a service that was close to culture, and catchy.” This led to the Zig brand, inspired by everyday taxi-slang such as zig-zagging around. “Eventually, we hope that Zig will be used as a verb,” said Leanage with a smile, quick to add “but that’s further down the line.”

To embed a low risk approach, the R/GA and ComfortDelGro team adopted a rigorous methodology. “We use a proprietary research methodology to start every project – spanning ethnographic research and interviews. For this project, we broke lifestyle down into three self-explanatory components: eat, shop and play.”


With internal approval in the pocket, the project team took the plunge in March with a public launch. While ComfortDelGro does not reveal details on the platform’s uptake (so doesn’t Leanage), analysts have described the launch as a success in terms of the response from the market and the platform’s usage.

“We’re now in what we call the ‘scale phase’, which we manage for all our clients. Market penetration is on the agenda, which requires “segmented rollouts, testing and the development of new innovative tools to enable an exciting lifestyle.”

Behind the scenes, the project team still is busy as ever focusing on what Leanage calls continuous improvement. “We monitor and collect real-time data through the platform, track customer acquisition rates, churn rates, how its being used and what features are resonating among consumers. We’re ensuring an iterative cycle of enhancements to provide for the best experience.” 

With dozens of such transformations under its belt in Asia Pacific, R/GA is used to working at the forefront of creative and tech-driven innovation. But the firm is particularly proud of its tandem with ComfortDelGro – “the brand we created was excellent and were very proud of the way it came together.”