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Markepoetry Part 3: Mission Soup

All this talk of mission statements made me go take a look in the Googleverse to see what other companies are using for mission statements. Thankfully, the nice people at have pulled together a list of all of the company mission statements they could find.

There are some interesting ones in there (two favorites: Darden Restaurants: “To nourish and delight everyone we serve.” and Harley Davidson: “We fulfill dreams through the experience of motorcycling.”) But once you read a few, it is abundantly clear which companies have put thought and energy into the process and which are simply going through the motions. I’ve taken a selection of the mission statements of Fortune 500 companies from the site and woven them into today’s markepoem:

Mission soup
starts with quality ingredients like:
a friendly, knowledgeable, professional staff,
a dynamic and challenging environment,
teamwork, creativity, and resourcefulness,
a respect for diversity,
an atmosphere of optimism,
and a commitment to create exceptional opportunities for professional growth.

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Matt Asay on the Red Hat Mission

Matt Asay just posted about Red Hat’s new mission, which he discovered on a visit to our Westford office in one of our “bathroom briefings” (important aside: we post some internal company news right front and center in the bathroom… if you want people to read something, post it in the bathroom– not everyone reads mailing lists, but everyone pees! Remember, internal communications is a strategic role at Red Hat!).

It’s not a secret, so I don’t mind that he saw the mission or posted about it. In fact, we are pretty happy with the transparent process we employed to get it done. Those of you who have read some previous posts know how strongly I feel about having the entire company aligned on mission and vision and values– the core stuff.

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People who get it #2: Marty Neumeier

I ordered 3 copies of Marty Neumeier’s new book, The Designful Company, yesterday for the team. Will let you know what I think once I’ve had a chance to read it. His two previous books, The Brand Gap and Zag, both had a profound influence on the Red Hat designfulcompany1overall brand strategy. I especially love The Brand Gap, which David Burney first introduced to me in 2005.

I’ve probably bought 20-30 copies of The Brand Gap over the last few years, try to keep a few at my desk to hand out to any potential brand converts I meet (why do I never get the copies back?). What’s beautiful about this book is the design and content are one–the message of the book is communicated by its design and its content together. And it is short– any busy executive can read it on a plane up to NYC.

In addition to helping us articulate the overall organizational design of the Brand Communications + Design group within Red Hat, this book has given us many other good ideas to chew on over the years. Probably the most famous quote from the book is:

A brand is not what YOU say it is, it’s what THEY say it is.

which many other people have glommed onto over the last couple of years (including me).

Even if you don’t have time to check out Marty’s books, go check out his great (and beautiful) presentation that explains many of the key concepts of his thinking here.

Rethinking communications in the 21st century company

Last week a colleague told me IBM had reorganized it’s marketing and communications functions. In the new order, the entire marketing organization would report into communications. Typically it has always been the opposite, with brand groups like mine and public relations reporting into a Chief Marketing Officer. Until recently, that’s been the way it worked at Red Hat too– over the years I’ve worked for mostly VP of marketing or CMO-types (although now I work as part of a group called People & Brand, a subject I’ll save for another post).

authenticenterpriseSo I spent some time thinking about what this change meant for IBM, why they were doing it, and did a little research online. In the process, I stumbled upon this report from the  Arthur W. Page Society entitled “The Authentic Enterprise.” Turns out that one of the co-chairs of the Authentic Enterprise task force was  John Iwata, the SVP of Communications for IBM. My guess is that this report, which came out in 2007, had significant impact in making the changes at IBM.

Thought I’d call out a few choice quotes from the report that I loved.

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Red Hat Nation

I was emailing back and forth with my friend Todd Barr the other day. Catching up with him reminded me of an idea we used to talk about quite a bit that I still think is the best idea that we haven’t made good on: Red Hat Nation.

flagThe basic idea is that a company like Red Hat, based on open source, has an opportunity to completely redefine what a business looks like in the 21st century. The traditional 20th century business is often very black and white: either you work for the company or you don’t. You are inside it’s walls, or you are not. There are clear distinctions between employees, partners, and customers. The most common way of depicting a company in this 20th century model is by showing its building.

In the traditional model, if I was to say I work for Red Hat, you would assume it means I am a Red Hat employee, and that they give me a paycheck, benefits, a desk, all the normal stuff.

But imagine for a second that the image used to illustrate the 21st century company is not a building, but instead a flag.

A flag is often a rallying point for nations, a symbol that represents a common set of beliefs. You see flags at the front lines of troops in battle. You see flags hanging outside the door of homes. You see flags on clothing, at sporting events, in many places where people who share common traits gather.

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Communicating a message through design

Earlier this week, Red Hat announced an agreement with Microsoft. I’m not planning on commenting on that agreement, as that’s not the point of this blog. Plus there are lots of smart Red Hat people who can do stuff like that.

rhmsBut I did find this article from InformationWeek interesting. It points out the design work that went into the homepage promo we put on, and shows how important design can be to the communication of an important message. From the article:

“A banner graphic atop the page detailing the reciprocal agreements announces in bold, all capital letters that “customer demand has spoken.” The banner also features a prominent road sign with a double-headed arrow pointed in opposite directions that sometimes signifies interoperability. Translation: You made us do it.”

So I am a “no comment” on this interpretation:) But I am excited that the work of Josh Gajownik from the Red Hat Brand Communications + Design team was noticed.

Markepoetry Part 2: It Turns Out I Have Needs

My friend Jonathan Opp once pointed out to me that his most hated marketing speak is the phrase “Meet your needs,” as in:

This Extra Giganto Super Widget is designed to meet your needs.


Wowzit Consulting and Sparky McSuccess & Sons have come together with a service offering sure to meet your needs.

Now that I’ve pointed it out, you will see this phrase everywhere. And it will start bugging you as much as it does Jonathan (and now me). Today’s Markepoem is dedicated to Jonathan Opp, and is constructed entirely of the fodder that came up in Google when I entered the term “Meet your needs.”

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People who get it #1: Gary Hamel

My friends Jeff Mackanic and David Burney both recommended that I read Gary Hamel’s latest book, The Future of Management, which was named the best business book of the year by Amazon in 2007. I was absolutely blown away. The whole way through, I was like, “tell it, brother!”

the_future_of_managementThe basic thesis of the book? The management model developed in the late 19th and early 20th century and integral to the success of the industrial revolution is starting to show signs of wear. It is being replaced by a new model, embodied by companies like Whole Foods, Google, and W.L. Gore (the makers of Gore-Tex); all three are highlighted in the book.

Red Hat, and the open source movement in general, are another perfect case study of this new management model. Concepts like the meritocracy of ideas, transparency & openness, collaboration, authenticity, and a whole host of other ideas that have made Red Hat successful appear over and over in the book.

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Markepoetry Part 1: Tell me, o ROI Calculator

In all likelihood, your budget is shrinking.

Based on your unique situation,
Based on your costs and your estimated results,
Depending on your desired outcomes,
Backed by extensive research,
Do you know how much your organization can save???

Pinpoint  where your business can immediately
save money and maximize profits.

Determine the optimal spending level,
Calculate the increased profit potential,
drag the sliders below,
analyze and validate the effectiveness,
see if you are still on budget.

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Pepsi ads blur the line

Was watching Saturday Night Live last night and saw some Pepsi ads that were based off of what was previously an SNL skit starring Will Forte. There were three ads, all based on the “MacGruber” parody of MacGyver SNL has been running for a while.

The first one had product placement for Pepsi in a small way, by the third one, every word that came out of Will Forte’s mouth was Pepsi. It was totally over the top, completely transparent product placement. And pretty damn funny by the end. I loved it.

My view? A huge win for Pepsi, breaking new product placement ground by co-opting an existing (and funny) Saturday Night Live skit, and being extremely self-aware about product placement and people’s feelings about it. Blew it wide open. Freakin’ hilarious.

For Saturday Night Live? I’m pretty sure the SNL folks woke up on Sunday morning with a bad hangover. Wondering what exactly they’d done, and hoping that no one else remembered either. Maybe Robert Redford was right. Make an indecent proposal with enough money attached, and someone will do anything.

Hey, I Wrote a Book!

The Ad-Free Brand: Secrets to Building Successful Brands in a Digital World

Available now in print and electronic versions.

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