IBM Adds Dimension to its Brand Promise through Social Responsibility Initiatives

Building a Smarter Planet is at the core of IBM’s brand promise. Yes, the brand platform is smart and the campaigns it inspires are compelling, but at IBM the promise runs deeper than that. A brand promise should drive how an organization behaves, and IBM shows its commitment to “Smarter Planet” through socially responsible initiatives and partnerships.


Take one of the IBM’s latest programs, Smarter Education Solution, which is part of the company’s broader Smarter Cities initiative. This is a partnership with Desire2Learn, a learning solutions company, to provide improved learning and teaching experiences in school systems. IBM provides advanced analytics software for use in conjunction with Desire2Learn’s educational platform to improve the learning environment for students. “Today, technology is redefining learning,” said Michael D. King, Vice President of IBM Global Education. “Curriculum can be delivered on a mobile device to follow the student home after school, and intervention strategies can help identify potential problems before they occur. By applying IBM’s advanced analytics technology to the cause of improving education, we hope to help every child succeed.”*

Partnerships like this show that IBM is delivering on its Smarter Planet brand promise. It goes beyond corporate objectives, advertising, and business strategies to actions that are real and meaningful. Social responsibility initiatives, when tied to a corporate brand strategy, can be a powerful differentiator in the marketplace.  Corporations with a compelling brand promise can affect the behaviors not only of their employees, but of the people and communities they touch as well. By partnering with Desire2Learn and other organizations and government agencies to highlight and address the shortcomings of the educational system, IBM shows how a company’s brand promise can make a meaningful difference in the world.



University of California

The University of California has recently unveiled a statewide promotional and advertising campaign, to improve awareness and appreciation of its unique and critical value to the state of California, the nation and the world. The campaign, and the ideas it promotes, are all based on a positioning strategy we developed for the University’s Office of the President, to help internal and external audiences understand the University’s true scope and commitment to the future.

To counter the concerns and criticisms that have come with reduced state funding and attention-getting political controversy, we helped UC articulate a larger vision for California, and its role in the state’s future. Identifying UC as “Boldly Californian” and articulating its role as “embodying the spirit of California, and igniting the potential of its people”, we were able to focus attention on a largest idea that transcends short term concerns and puts difficult decisions in a grand context. This idea enables UC to continue to develop its role as both creation and catalyst ofCalifornia’s importance in the world. With its current investments in advertising and awareness building, we anticipate that its role in the world will be better understood, and appreciated as it adapts to new realities.


The American Red Cross Unveils a New Brand Identity

The American Red Cross recently unveiled its new logo and launched a new brand identity campaign. The changes are subtle, but the message is obvious: The Red Cross is no longer just a disaster relief organization; it’s a group of local volunteers ready to make the world a better place.

Why did the American Red Cross feel compelled to update its image and brand identity? The organization’s leadership wants to reach a new generation of donors and volunteers. The goal is regain a stronger sense of relevance and approachability, and to share its message and mission with a broader audience by inviting them to take a look inside ‘The New Red Cross.’

“We want to show more people how they can be part of a Red Cross that intersects with their lives in many ways,” said Red Cross CMO Peggy Dyer. “The new brand identity is an important part of that process.”

The revamped logo maintains the important aspects of the Red Cross’s heritage while updating it to symbolize a sense of participation, belonging, and engagement. By refreshing its identity, the American Red Cross positions itself as a grassroots organization of greater breadth. It can tell its stories of the past to a new generation eager that is eager to listen and become actively involved.

This new brand identity initiative shows how the use of audience-specific messaging, and even the contextual use of a logo, can uphold the grander, more unifying ideal that the Red Cross isn’t just about disasters; it’s about reaching out to help neighbors, locally and globally, in times of need. Modernizing its image invites a whole new generation to get involved and take ownership of the organization to keep it viable and significant in the future.

Making only subtle changes to the logo was wise. If the Red Cross had drastically altered its identity, it would have risked alienating current stakeholders and scaring off potential donors. Even if it had managed to avoid that catastrophe, it would still have been an immeasurable waste of brand equity.

An organization’s brand is an expression of why it matters. The Red Cross’s new brand identity illustrates just how comprehensive a role the organization plays. It’s more than a provider of essential emergency relief—it’s a community of people mobilizing to enhance the world with its presence



At the recent VMworld event in San Francisco, VMware showcased the power and commitment of its unrivaled Partner Network to enable business transformation through innovation, technology, and expertise.  This message, and the graphic tools that support it, are the results of our work with VMware to position its Partner Network as a uniquely aligned business and technology ecosystem, “collectively committed to business transformation”.

With over 50,000 partners in its ecosystem, VMware required a powerful, yet simple message that could be adopted and translated across thousands of client relationships. The notion of being in a collective effort to transform business was a unique differentiator for thePartner Network.  When supported by leading technology and continuous innovation, this story became highly compelling, aspirational and sustainable for both network participants and the customers they serve. One of the most motivational aspects of this simple strategy was the number of ways it could be communicated, broadly or specifically. From giveaways to group events,  VMware has begun investing in telling the story of its Partner Network, to increase value for participants and customers around the world.