Kenna posted four new case studies last week – all around IBM.com’s Smarter Planet zone and the new “cult of personality” we see on this site. If you haven’t spent some quality time on this piece of IBM.com real estate, it’s time to dust your dancing shoes off and go for a spin.

Each of the case studies focuses on a different design or content best practice—but for my money, the “cult of personality” discussion is a compelling moment of brilliance. It looks like the IBM Smarter Planet team has actually cracked the code on how to marry social media behaviors with the company’s core business propositions. Here’s a thirty second summary of Kenna’s POV.

For the bulk of its 100 years, IBM has been the icon of the monolithic, faceless organization. The Machine. The Man. The System. This reputation was so entrenched that is employees were endowed with a unique nickname: “the blue suits”. Thus, it’s surprising – no shocking – that IBM should be the first company to successfully transform itself from a corporation into a clan. And its Website is playing no small role in its metamorphosis.

2011 | IBM.com's Smarter PlanetThe strategy is brilliant because

  • It leverages IBM’s core sales model (building relationships), gives it the golden opportunity to demonstrate expertise and passion, and translates a faceless corporation into actual people who are experts in their fields.
  • It works by using photos, dynamic profiles, and links to start conversations.
  • It wraps these attributes in a savvy design that takes advantage of new less is more white space trends and short, snappy & relevant content that is second to none.

And then there are the graphics. Relevant charts with factoids. Eye catching video panels. Moments of visual whimsy and delight (my favorite is the carrot that illustrates how long it takes to get from the farm to a store in California). This from that old stuffy IBM?

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