Adding to the Experience
Microsoft understood that they had to do more than simply sponsor events or add their logo to partnerships. They make sure that they always add something tangible.
“We are more enlightened we didn’t want to just add our logo we wanted to bring to the experience. We get involved with something because we want to enhance it not kill it.” PAUL, MICROSOFT
They use their unique capabilities and resources to make the things they are involved with better.
“If brands are to engage in culture it has to be authentic and add something to the overall experience somehow.”
Microsoft’s original vision was wholly product-focussed and functional - to put a PC on every desk. Once they achieved this, they realised there was a more fundamental problem they could help to tackle. People are time poor. And technology, rather than assist them, can intrude on people’s lives. So, Microsoft created a new Purpose around enabling people get stuff done. They aim to empower people to go and do amazing things.
Letting your Brand Become a Raw Material
Microsoft have understood that they shouldn’t be too precious about their brand. When they are involved in partnerships, their products are always vital to the experience, but they allow their brand to be messed with. “We see ourselves as an ingredient brand.” PAUL, MICROSOFT
“We integrated the phones into the experience, but let them play with our brand for each event and let them stylise the brand.” PAUL, MICROSOFT
They are brave enough to be the raw materials in a process, and let go of some control. When they worked with Gorillaz, they gave access to their new web browser which could create the smoothest animation, but kept the brief very open. Their other collaborations have a similar spirit.
“In our episodic graphic novel… We got the talent right and we gave them a free rein. We changed two lines in the script.” PAUL, MICROSOFT. Microsoft always aim to encourage creativity, not limit it.
Finding Passion and Living It
To be a truly enabling brand, Microsoft knows that it also has to curate - finding the most exciting and inspiring content and delivering it to people. The majority of this is fuelled by their employees.
“We talk a lot about deep curiosity as a value of our team. I hire people who have broad interests I ask people what they are inspired by and what they do. I recruit people who lead a rich cultural life because they are stimulated and will be stimulating.” PAUL, MICROSOFT
To be a true Firestarter brand, the people involved need to be plugged in, to know what’s going on and be able to curate it for the people they serve.