There’s more than convincing people to look at your brand; there’s getting people to join it

November 19, 2015

In the last few years, one of the brands that we have long tracked in our CoreBrand® Index, General Electric (GE), has been working to change its brand image from that of a large, industrial manufacturer, to being a brand that is (along with being a large industrial manufacturer) at the forefront of innovation and technology.

As one of the most powerful brands in the index (they finished 17th overall in 2015), for GE to intentionally move away from their brand legacy towards a new and different brand persona might be considered risky. However, GE has taken an interesting approach by trying to show the benefits of applying innovative solutions and technology to what GE is best known for; large scale equipment that drives businesses and industries.

Throughout 2014, much of that effort was based on advertising and marketing directed at B2B audiences (investors, partners, industrial buyers, etc.) and consumers that was centered on stories about GE providing better solutions for businesses and industries, whether it means greater efficiencies, higher performance or in being more environmentally friendly. An example can be seen in this ad, where a little girl talks about what her mother does at GE:

Now, in 2015, GE has added to this effort with very clever advertising and marketing campaign that not only speaks B2B and consumer audiences investing in, or purchasing from GE, but also to the TALENT GE will need to attract in order to sustain a leadership position in innovation and technology.

Called ‘What’s the Matter with Owen’, it is built around a nerdy computer programmer who has been hired by GE to write code that, as he put’s it, ‘will change the world’. However, friends, family and acquaintances, upon hearing of Owen’s new job, have difficulty reconciling GE’s brand image as a manufacturer, with Owen’ being a programmer. Perhaps the best example is ‘The Hammer.’:

Obviously, it remains to be seen how this new messaging will impact the GE brand, and whether or not it contributes to GE ranking high in the CoreBrand® Index in 2016. But what this new messaging does do, in my opinion, is show GE to be a brand with exceptional self awareness in knowing that success is not just about convincing people that you offer a better solution, but also knowing that in order to build that solution, you need talented and capable people to help you get there.

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