Selling IT to your organization: get creative, think like a marketer

Perhaps CIOs should take a page from marketing and look to logos and branding to sell new IT initiatives.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

It's well understood that no one really pays attention to what IT is up to until there's a system outage or other glitch.

Snazzy IT dept. logo from the Monterey Institute for International  Studies

It's also often a challenge to promote new initiatives on a business level. This has been one of the issues to SOA adoption, as it's often difficult to sell new approaches to business end-users, and even to draw in more involvement.

Perhaps CIOs have to start thinking more like marketers, and less like IT managers, when to comes to selling new innovations to the rest of the organization. That's the view of Mary Brandel, writing in ComputerWorld, who even goes so far to suggest that new initiatives be branded, even with their own logos, to make the sale. (Pictured here: a snazzy IT department logo from the Monterey Institute for International Studies.)

Consider these examples she cites:

  • One IT group took its business's corporate logo and expanded on it to depict a scene of two pieces of land joined by a bridge, with the slogan "Your Bridge to Success."
  • Johnson &  Johnson's CIO branded the company's IT department, including creating a logo, as part of an IT centralization effort.
  • Procter & Gamble changed it's IT department's name to "IDS: Information, Decisions and Solutions."
  • The Oregon Department of Transportation is rolling out an interactive portal that "will trumpet IT's success in meeting service levels and provide a conduit for two-way user communication," and also carry a logo with a slogan -- possibly something along the lines of "We deliver information" or "Data done right."
  • An IT department that wanted to emphasize how easy it was to work with "created a logo and a slogan and had them emblazoned on company-colored polo shirts; an oval over the pocket featured the new slogan: 'Tech IT Easy.'"

However, it's important to think carefully about IT's mission and solicit input from the rest of the business before commencing a campaign. "Branding is not about logos -- it's about how others perceive your behavior when they come into contact with you," Patty Azzarello, founder of Azzarello Group, is quoted as saying. "IT needs to sit down, brainstorm on the impression it wants the business to have of the organization, and determine what it must do to convey the right image and make sure users get the right impression."

There's even swag possibilities. Brandel suggests that IT departments distribute branded "promotional items" as part of a campaign, such as business cards, flyers, USB sticks, and mouse pads. "But make sure none of your swag appears too costly, she warns, because that could give users the impression that you're overspending."

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