Technology product marketing is hard when you overthink it, simple when you don't. Sometimes that means not letting brand marketing do the job that product marketing could probably do pretty well on its own.
Take a few recent examples from several Silicon Valley giants.
Google has created an internal brand marketing arm in New York, which is something that agency people generally recommend against. No surprise there.
But Google's internal team may have yielded a simple, inspiring way to communicate how valuable search is. It isn't boring. It is inspiring and it shows how their core product changes the world--when you're not searching for antique lamp repair.
Google did "Parisian Love" years ago, "Growing Knowledge" just weeks ago.
Somehow having a brand creative team in-house has put it closer to the actual product. Score one for internal ad teams.
UPDATE Oct 18, 2012: and now we have this one from eBay. More here.
Facebook recently gave us something about social networks being like chairs. We had to think hard about their metaphor. And then think some more. Then find a chair and consider the act of sitting. And thinking. And then maybe we got distracted and checked Facebook while the ad was running.
Ad agency Wieden + Kennedy was stretching here--and I love much of W + K's work. If a little simple storytelling had been employed about any one of Facebook's recently achieved 1 billion users' experiences it might not have been so ingloriously lampooned, from techies to the ad community to Forbes.
These executions made me think about how disconnected corporate marketing and agencies are from the people who make the products. There is no one who better understands users (the market!) and what users are emotionally gaining from the technology (brand!) than product people.
They are professionally responsible for the strategy and health of the product. Researchers, designers, product managers, and--yes--engineers spend their days obsessing about users and putting interesting and useful things in their paths. Most of them would be happy to have an opportunity to share what they know with the creative teams advertising their products.
We saw some of the same off-the-mark brand work from Yahoo! during their last major brand launch. It just didn't connect. Yet there were of people close to the products' users who could have shared their visions with the marketers. Granted, Yahoo! is a special, balkanized product case for any brand marketer, but this is hardly unique in the technology world.
The lesson here for brand teams and agencies is to invite a few product folks into creative brainstorming. Maybe the other lesson is for product teams to get more actively involved with corporate brand marketing. They need your insights, but let them interpret and produce your thoughts. They're good at it. They just need a peak into the user and business insights that drove your latest release.
Don't look past a real story for the sake of making one up. Look down. You might be sitting on it.