— blending the mix

Microsoft…forget the blue monster…make it personal

Thanks to Nathan Weinberg for the image!

Apple only ever seems to be about one man – Steve Jobs. “Innovative” Steve Jobs, “marketing maverick” Steve Jobs, “innovator” Steve jobs…yet Microsoft, the largest and most (arguably!) innovative software company in the world seems to be perceived as thousands of little individuals conspiring against the world to….erm…make using a PC easier. We only see the good side of Steve Jobs.

Hugh is hitting the nail on the head with his Blue Monster campaign, but I am not convinced that the Monster is the icon that best serves the objectives of the campaign. If the monster does start to change people’s perception of MS (and I am sure it will with Hugh behind it), it will always be that negative connotation which reminds Joe Public of what MS WAS. Yes, currently people may see it as the monster dressed in blue but surely all the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood did was wear granny’s bed gear! The Monster only shows the bad side of Microsoft. Dressing it up as something it no longer is is defeating the point.

But what do Microsoft want? They want us to see them as a collective group of humans working towards a greater good through the medium of software. Ok, nothing quite so grand as that, but innovators providing the means to give us unlimited creative potential is pretty close to the mark. An exciting community of talented people working to create solutions to making using a computer easy is also pretty accurate too.

My two cents…make it personal. Make it about Bill. Make it about what he started out with, his dream and how he pursued that dream. Show us how far Bill has brought us from what we started with, show us evolution – show us what we can now achieve compared to what we could (not) before.

Make people remember that Microsoft IS a people business, with a person as a founder, with one person’s vision (ok two!), passion, fear, failure and unique talent. Someone who started in his garage and spent the best years of his life flogging his guts out to pursue that dream.

THAT is how you get people to believe that you care, that you really do have the same beliefs as your customers.

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  1. steve clayton says: April 25, 20074:55 am

    Paul – to some extend I agree that the Bill story is a compelling one but I think his story has been well told over and over again (and modified). What would perhaps be more interesting is people in Microsoft’s stories about Bill. I have two pretty good ones I’ve been thinking about posting for a while so maybe will do so. The reason I say this, and I agree with your view on Jobs/Apple, is that I think Apple may have a real issue on its hands when Steve leaves/steps down/dies. I don’t mean that in a morbid way but seriously, as you’ve pointed out, there is no Apple without Steve. I love their products but worry about who will fill the void when he isn’t there. I worried the same way for Microsoft when Bill leaves but we know that’s happening and I honestly think Ozzie can fill the shoes quite well. Sure the romance of the Bill story will never be replaced but Ozzie has something about him that I think people will warm too. Authenticity, honesty…

    meantime, I think the great stories of Microsoft are from it’s people – not just the execs and that’s kind of where Blue Monster started.

    thanks for listening!

  2. paul.fabretti says: April 25, 20075:12 am

    Hey Steve

    I remember Scoble’s excitement at being included in an interview with Bill about 6 months ago and how the blogosphere picked up on everything Bill said. Insider insight (as you mentioned) from people like yourself offers Joe Public a great way to see that yes, MS is a huge great organisation, but that the drivers for that are real people with real stories and a passion to do the best they can.

    Strip away Jobs’ showmanship and can you say that about Apple? Integrity is an incredibly powerful currency. It also shows a human side that Joe Public can empathise with.

    If Ray will/can never have the showmanship or perceived persona of Jobs, don’t try and force the issue. What does Ray stand for that Jobs or even Bill don’t?

    Consider how carefully crafted Gordon Brown’s move into Tony Blair’s shoes is being managed. He doesn’t have the flair of Blair (sorry!) but No.11 are focussing on what he IS and not ewhat he IS NOT.

    Post them stories Steve, I for one would LOVE to hear them…as would thousands of others.

  3. […] Part of me wanted to link to Paul’s Microsoft…forget the blue monster…make it personal post just to share this image. I think it’s brilliant. His premise is that Microsoft needs to start telling personal stories to connect with our audience, and specifically Bill’s story. I think the personal stories bit is important but disagree with the Bill story. It’s been well told and well remixed to date but Paul makes an interesting analogy with Apple and Steve Jobs that I’ve been considering for a while. The romance of the company founder story and what happens when they leave. […]

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