An ad speaks volumes about the advertiser and is the company's best opportunity to portray its personality—the things that will make it liked, respected and admired. ¶ Done right, an ad sends unmistakable signals about the company's character, its mission, its craftsmanship and its sense of leadership. But an ad can also expose a company to enormous risks. A messy ad suggests a dysfunctional company. A brag-and-boast ad can indicate that a company cares more about itself than its customers. A dull-looking ad all but says that the company has nothing to get excited about, is behind the times, is slowing down.
Let's take a look at a handful of ads that successfully reflect the company's character. We begin with one for Dassault Falcon that seats readers in the lap of luxury. The richly appointed cabin of the Falcon 900LX says beauty. While beauty is self-evident, the real story is efficiency. The copy and bar chart state that the aircraft can travel farther and burn less fuel than competitive corporate aircraft.
The headline: “The real beauty is in the efficiency” ties the image and the message together in a way that conveys a sense of Dassault Falcon's attention to precision and detail—qualities essential to the advertiser. Those qualities are undoubtedly dear to the hearts of corporate executives who help specify the purchase of a corporate jet.
We descend from the heavens to a grim tableau in which shadowy figures make their way across a streetscape to the accompaniment of the headline: “The next attack can come from anywhere. Fortunately, that's where we're looking.” Although the image and headline may be unsettling, they're apropos for a company called SecureWorks.
What says tenacious and tough better than a pair of boxing gloves? Consulting firm Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC) borrows the visually arresting image and pairs it with the hard-breathing headline: “When the going gets tough, the tough look to a world-class technology partner to achieve strategic agility.”
Copy reinforces the image by stating: “CSC brings deep technology resources, vertical industry expertise and tenacious ingenuity to create competitive advantage for clients in 80 countries around the world.” The Chasers were previously unfamiliar with the CSC brand, but they now have a keen sense of the company's character thanks to this ad.
NEC Corp. sells technology; but it's people who buy technology, so it makes sense for NEC to feature the very human image of a doctor and a nurse paying a visit to a young patient in her hospital bed. This, however, is not an episode of “General Hospital” but NEC's pitch for its communications system that provides up-to-date patient information whenever and wherever it's needed, according to the copy.
Just as important, the warm and fuzzy image sends signals to the audience that it's a user-oriented company and not a maker-oriented company. A bedside manner goes a long way, even in the cold, clinical world of b-to-b advertising.
If you sell insurance in every corner of the world, why not show one of the more vibrant ones? Zurich Financial Services does just that with the colorful photo of a busy boulevard in China to highlight its global character. The headline and copy reinforce the image. States the copy: “[The Zurich Multinational Insurance Proposition] helps you keep global insurance programs compliant when you expand your business to a new market and expose yourself to new risks.”
Carefully chosen images that speak to a company's essential nature, backed up by a headline and copy that reinforce it, are the best way to reflect corporate character.