IBM Can’t Communicate


IBM has experienced declining revenues for 21 straight quarters.

Alas, the company still doesn’t know why.

As I’ve opined previously, in articles and in my latest book for CEOs — Brand Is Destiny: The Ultimate Bottom Line — the reason is simple: IBM has no brand.

Let me repeat that: IBM has no brand.

If you find my audacious proclamation outrageous, offensive, and triggering, you don’t know branding.

A company’s brand, which sets it purpose and direction, begets its products. The reverse is not true.
Buzzword Bouillabaisse

Have a look at IBM’s latest TV commercial. I have no idea what Big Blue is trying to convey — only that it fails. It has thrown everything into this spot, including the kitchen sink!

I counted 13 visual and verbal messages in this 41-second buzzword bouillabaisse. Thirteen. I may have missed one or two.

  • Cloud
  • Tomato
  • Farm-to-table
  • IBM
  • IBM Cloud
  • Blockchain
  • Shoppers
  • Hack-proof financial transactions
  • AI (artificial intelligence)
  • IoT (Internet of things)
  • Skyscraper elevators
  • Enterprise
  • Astronaut in outer space

How many messages should there be? ONE.

All communication must be clear, never cloudy.

To evaluate this 41-second waste of money, ask: Who’s the audience? What’s the value proposition? What’s the emotional hook? What’s the call to action? What will the dazed viewers tell others who didn’t watch it?

Getting the picture?

What can I conclude? A committee created and greenlighted this ineffective, amateurish ode to technology. Committees and technology-worship are futile.
Parting Advice to CEOs

Saying everything is tantamount to saying nothing. Never approve and fund a commercial (or a homepage or a brochure or a magazine ad) like the one above.

Because of unsocial media and pervasive political correctness, today’s Millennial-influenced workforce is unskilled in knowing humans and connecting with them.

But, that’s no excuse for failure. Find people who have the requisite branding skills.

IBM can’t communicate and has no brand. What about your company?
POSTSCRIPT #1: IBM Reports Worst Earnings in Five Years (04.18.18)


About the Author

Marc Rudov is a branding advisor to CEOs,
producer of MarcRudovTV, and author of two books:
Brand Is Destiny: The Ultimate Bottom Line and
Be Unique or Be Ignored: The CEO’s Guide to Branding.


© 2017 Marc H. Rudov. All Rights Reserved.

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