Putting A “Face” On A Company

Everybody knows technology rules Silicon Valley.

That’s why Larry Ellison chastising HP plays out locally like “Desperate Housewives.”

That’s why you can find memory chips next to beef jerky on the way to checkout counters at stores like Fry’s. 

The engineering mindset that permeates the Valley often finds marketing, much less storytelling, to be a superficial concept. By engineering logic, the buyer will simply choose the best product based on a defined set of attributes.    

Of course, it’s not that simple.

Intangibles come into play.

It doesn’t matter whether the company sells digital music players, servers or FPGAs, the buyer likes it when he or she feels there are actual people behind a company name.

That’s one of the greatest strengths of social media. Communication platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and others enable a company to engage with the world beyond its office corridors in a way that wasn’t possible before.

Social media helps put a “face” on a company.

It’s interesting to look at one of the most technical companies in the world, Intel.

The company’s R&D investment last fiscal year came in at $5.7 billion. Few companies can match Intel when it comes to sheer number of technological advancements.

Now consider the foundation of Intel’s outbound communications for many years revolved around the “Intel Inside” campaign.

And what precisely was inside?

An esoteric microprocessor with certain features and a benefit that typically focused on speed; i.e., our chip makes computers go fast.

This approach works as long as you’re the fastest chip in town. But what happens when the competition surpasses Intel in the speed game or a new game emerges such as power consumption?

That’s why you see Intel devoting more time and resources to building the Intel brand. As part of this brand-building effort, Intel is striving to humanize the company – to put a face on the company – through its people.

The best example of this surfaced last year when Intel created the campaign that spotlighted its scientists. Called “our rock stars are different than your rock stars,” the videos show Intel scientists getting rock-star like-treatment walking into rooms with guitars pulsating and fans fawning.

The video that attracted the most attention focused on Ajay Bhatt, the brains behind the invention of the USB port on PCs, which became a YouTube sensation.



In fact, the viral nature of the video caused Bhatt’s fame to rise to the point that he appeared on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien (before Team Coco moved to TBS).

Here’s a second example of Intel humanizing the company through its people that hasn’t gained the notoriety of Ajay Bhatt and his science posse.

Do an online search on Genevieve Bell who spearheads Intel’s social science effort and you’ll find an avalanche of articles. This is a person who before Intel was teaching anthropology at Stanford.

genevieve bell fortune

Why is Intel making a concentrated effort to build her public profile?

Again, it comes back to putting a face on the company.I do think campaigns like the one from Intel remind others it’s not ONLY about the technology.

And in the case of Bell, Intel gains the second benefit of showing its right-brain side through Bell’s mission to bring the human element to technology. 

I’m not ready to say Silicon Valley and tech companies have jumped on the “let’s-share-our-humanity” bandwagon (cue up the kumbayas).        

People count too.

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2 Comments so far

  1. [...]  A basic thing, and easy to overlook. Storytelling has its place as well, and Lou Hoffman wrote a great piece on his blog about how Brands that tell stories allow for people to connect with them much more deeply and [...]

  2. Lou Hoffman March 1st, 2012 4:42 pm

    Great headline–

    “Being Human.”

    Something about putting on a jacket and tie causes articulate and witty and conversational people to default into stiff speak.

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