Can the website of an enterprise technology company really truly engage?
I’m pleased to welcome Peggy Burke, Principal at 1185 Design as a guest blogger. She discusses risk taking, pushing the envelope in branding, and the ideas behind the design of the new Marketo website.
Choose an enterprise technology brand. Now type in their URL and engage. “With what,” you ask? Exactly!
We live in a world of engagement through some of the most extraordinary and disruptive technologies. These very technologies persuade us to take risk with our personal information, our company’s financial and business data and in some cases our own well being. So why is it that we have an appetite for risk-taking with some of our most valuable business and personal assets but very little appetite for pushing the risk envelope when it comes to branding and creating a “legendary” site?
As I beat my head against the wall every day that I surf the “enterprise” web in search of extraordinary, I have come to realize that there is one key barrier preventing the most inspired executives from taking the leap to legendary.
Define then Design
It’s difficult to define a category to own. Beyond its technology categories, Apple is the standard bearer of defining and owning a brand category: exceptional design. It clearly permeates everything that is Apple, from communications to product design to experience. They left the soul in their brand by remaining ever vigilant in their quest for good design and recognizing our quest as consumers for an intuitive and delightful experience. The difficulty in most B2B businesses is building consensus for what it is you want to own in a category. The risk comes in choosing. But in not choosing, the average B2B site positions everything equally and runs the risk of owning little.
There are many companies who have defined new categories. Three examples of companies I have recently worked with come to mind. The first is Jive Software. As a collaboration tool they defined the category simply as “The New Way to Business.” Jive launched their new site in 2011 with a dramatic black background with provocative messaging and distinctive light writing. In stark contrast to its competitors, the message was spare and direct, “illuminating what matters”. The combination was effective in further defining the social enterprise.
SuccessFactors, the second company, created a new category-Business Execution Software (BizX). Business Execution Software elevated an otherwise complex human resources software suite to a business imperative. BizX aligns strategy, vision and individual goals across the enterprise to improve overall business outcomes. SuccessFactors’ site created an iconic representation of BizX with one clear message “It’s time to love work again.”
And now, Marketo. Analytics and lead gen on steroids, Marketo is transforming how companies generate revenue. The category defined is Revenue Performance Management (RPM) and this disruptive suite is changing the sales and marketing landscape. With it comes a dramatic change in their site.
Using graphic iconography to guide visitors through the value of RPM (opposed to a tome of marketing and technical content on the home page) the site engages visitors with a unique interface. Who says the enterprise web doesn’t have to entertain! The CEO, Phil Fernandez, and his marketing team dove in head first to this interactive transformation and I have to applaud them for daring to be different. Not for the sake of different, but for the sake of reflecting their own value props, “Break the Barriers of Traditional Marketing Automation,” “Own Your Seat at the Revenue Table” and “Outpace the Competition.” Transformation is a beautiful thing, whether it be technology or design.
I personally look forward to sharing these and other examples of companies breaking down the traditional B2B barriers of engagement on the web. I, for one, promise to do my part.