By terrymckenzie on Nov 19, 2007
It's the usual packed commuter flight from SFO to Burbank airport, and speaking of Thanksgiving, we're crammed in there like stuffing in a scrawny turkey. But I've lucked out, and am sitting next to a young man who is sleepy and therefore willing to let me read his newspaper during the short flight.
So in the course of exchanging pleasantries, I learn that he works for Yahoo (an art director) and he learns I work for... Sun.
"Sun...", he says to me. "What do you guys do? Never heard of you."
It was enough to make a grown woman cry. He works for Yahoo and has never heard of us?? Talk about being slapped in the face with our branding issue. I quickly explained who we are, what we stand for and what we do, but from the blank look on his face, it's clear I failed my "compelling elevator speech" test.
OK, fine. I wasn't done yet. I asked my poor, trapped seatmate (he had the middle seat and I was on the aisle, making sure he couldn't make a break for it) if he had ever heard of Java. His face lit up. "Oh sure, we use Java all the time." Whew. Score one for Sun. Encouraged, I asked him if he knew about Solaris. Blank look. So I pulled out my ace card - what about Jonathan Schwartz? "That name is really familiar," he said. I gently prompted him: "Blogging?" I was rewarded by a blaze of recognition. I pulled out the business section from his paper and pointed out the coverage on our recent deal with Dell.
Mission accomplished. But if we have to build brand awareness person by person, it's a going to be a very long effort. How do we reach the next generation of developers and users and customers? We think we have our mojo back - now we need the world to agree.
We've come a long way, baby, as the old Virginia Slim ads used to say. But we're not done yet. I'm thinking the time for cool Sun t-shirts might be back - ones that declare our return to the marketplace in terms that get conversations started with ordinary people. Consider: "Rock on, baby!" or "Niagara - it's not just for honeymooners anymore." Or, "Cool Threads? We'll give you Cool Threads!"
OK, OK. It's clear to all why I'm in internal communication and not marketing. So find your own words and go get our story out! And with that, I wish our U.S. friends and colleagues a wonderful Thanksgiving, and much to be thankful for...