Benson said that in a recent O&A workshop on IT marketing strategies that she ran, an IT group took its business's corporate logo and expanded on it to depict a scene of two pieces of land joined by a bridge, with the slogan "Your Bridge to Success."
Logos and slogans can be especially useful when IT's image is in need of improvement, Benson says. "IT can be viewed as noncommunicative, behind-the-scenes, unprofessional," she says. "But when the business units see something sharp and crisp and creative coming out of IT, they say, 'Look at that; maybe they could transition that creativity into an innovative solution for me.' It helps IT appear to the business as, 'We're similar to you.'"
Of course, image-making can be accomplished without a logo or branding, says Thomas Druby, an IT executive and former CIO at a large insurer. But a graphical image can help close the gap that often exists -- especially at large companies -- between the general perception of IT and the actual value it's delivering.
Branding can make an IT organization feel as though it's establishing its own identity, he says. IT workers "have a bigger sense of accomplishment, because they start looking like a part of the company they own."
Look before you leap
But before getting your creative juices flowing, make sure you can deliver on the goods your logo and slogan promise. "The worst that can happen is you brand an organization that isn't working well, is not well received and doesn't have its act together," says Scott Archibald, managing director at Bender Consulting in Austin.
"Branding is not about logos -- it's about how others perceive your behavior when they come into contact with you," agrees Patty Azzarello, founder of Azzarello Group, a consultancy in Palo Alto, Calif. CIOs often grimace, she says, when she tells them that the help desk represents 90% of IT's brand. "That's where most people interact with IT, and if it's confusing and hard to use, you have a bad brand."
Therefore, she says, IT needs to sit down, brainstorm on the impression it wants the business to have of the organization, and determine what it must do to convey the right image and make sure users get the right impression. "The logo is just one visual element," she says.
When he worked at the insurance company, Druby and his IT organization made an effort to build the IT brand, first defining a menu of services and eventually creating a logo and slogan. The key themes the group planned to emphasize were IT's role as an "enabler" and a "partner" and its ability to help with competitive differentiation. "You can't just put a different picture on the same organization," he says. "You need to rebuild yourself into a service-type organization and then put a brand on it."