How IBM Rebuilt Brand


Seattle -- When it comes to brand building and effectively conveying
communications, companies should stick to their guns.

That message came across during a CTAM general session here Tuesday in which
Maureen McGuire, vice president of worldwide marketing management and integrated
marketing communications for IBM Corp., and Brian Fetherstonhaugh, chairman of
global brands at Ogilvy & Mather, discussed how "Big Blue" used integrated
marketing to restore its brand luster.

The pair outlined a lesson plan that they said could be adapted by cable
operators, programmers and other businesses to lift their respective

First, "simplify and unify." IBM winnowed its roster from 72 agencies with
myriad messages in the early 1990s to O&M. This more streamlined approach
needed to be twinned with what Fetherstonhaugh called a "big idea" --
network-centric computing.

"We had the science, the rational thought and strategy," noted McGuire, "but
we needed the art to bring it to life." Hence, messages touted IBM’s e-business
and its "Solutions for a small planet" tag line.

They next talked up "sense and response" to market conditions. With so many
other companies entering the Web world in the late 1990s, IBM needed to react to
a vastly expanding market. It began supplying more analyses and consulting
service to clients, trumpeting this advantage with its "deeper" campaign.

In 2002, the company began pushing its e-business on-demand options, labeling
many of the Web solutions spouted by often bygone competitors as "pixie

Another key point: "Marketing is 360 degrees." The presenters again espoused
the need for consistency in all business avenues, including pricing on the Web
-- a point driven home by a humorous spot in which a woman is unable to buy a
light she saw on the Web in a store from a guy named Dwight.

As a result, Fetherstonhaugh said, IBM’s stock had not only rebounded from
$14 per share into its current $80 range, but the company’s direct-response and
direct-mail efforts have produced significant yields, while its brand value had
grown to $50 million from negative $50 million before O&M came on board.

Moreover, these feats did not require more money, just "spending it more