The Medium IS the Message

posted by Brendan Hodgson

So I am currently working with a client, one of Canada’s largest technology companies, to re-design the “company” or “about us” section of their corporate website. This activity is happening as part of an overall reputation and brand-building effort to position this company as a market, business and community leader. It is an interesting exercise, as it is challenging us to re-think how content and messaging should be structured and presented in order to achieve the desired objectives.

Most importantly, what I’ve learned through the discovery phase of this exercise is that few companies are taking full advantage of this vital section of the corporate web site to communicate their corporate messaging (vs product messaging) to stakeholders. Some are on their way — BP being an excellent example. Few are the companies, however, that go beyond putting in place the typical menu of links that collectively do little to reinforce the key drivers of that company’s reputation.

The challenge, as we see it, is not insignificant. The audiences for this section are not only existing and prospective customers. They include employees and prospective employees, media, shareholders, analysts, students, communities in which this company operates, government regulators, and others. And each of these audiences have different information needs. As a result, the focus of what you are trying to communicate can easily become more obtuse.

In addition, your typical “company” section of a corporate web site is often merely a series of links to sections of the corporate site owned by other departments — HR, IR, Legal, Marketing or others. Consequently, one faces a number of limitations in how audiences are channeled through to these various sections: internal politics and a rigid corporate style-guide being only two of the more obvious.

At the same time, however, it is important to note that this exercise was not intended to be a complete overhaul of their existing content — which was for the most part sound and “on message.” On the other hand, what was not yet considered was the implications of how these messages — if presented differently yet more cohesively, in essence as “proof points” to better substantiate and provide context to the overall positioning — might be more effectively articulated. This is where the design and navigation of the site becomes as important as the content itself. And it was in this vein that we focused our efforts.

The result of our thinking was simple, yet profound. In identifying the attributes that contributed positively to the reputation of this company, we then structured the corporate content as “proof points” supporting these over-arching attributes — be they people-driven, business-driven, or values-driven. When I look at the result now — which is still in development – I’m surprised at how obvious this outcome now appears.

Do me a favour, send along any examples you might have of “company” or “about” sections of corporate sites that you think effectively articulate the company’s vision and messages. I’d be interested in knowing what you think. And I’ll keep you posted on how the next phase of this exercise — actual deployment — unfolds.

6 Comments
06

Mar
2007

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luogo interessante, soddisfare interessante, buon!

11

Mar
2007

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Luogo molto buon:) Buona fortuna!

13

Mar
2007

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E evidente che il luogo e stato fatto dalla persona che realmente conosce il mestiere!

16

Mar
2007

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luogo interessante, soddisfare interessante, buon!

17

Mar
2007

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Lo trovo piuttosto impressionante. Lavoro grande fatto..)

19

Mar
2007

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Stupore! ho una sensibilit molto buona circa il vostro luogo!!!!

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