Branding Your BI Solution: Everything Up to And Including Theme Music?

Branding and other forms of internal marketing are absolutely essential for successful BI projects — and it’s an area where the teams don’t often have a lot of expertise.

Use whatever resources you have

Sometimes implementation teams have access to internal resources for brochures and other materials – e.g. see the example below for an example of a brochure that was produced for a large French public sector BI project.


Even if you don’t have any budget or access to official resources, you may be able to find and persuade some marketing or internal communication colleagues to give you a hand creating materials and advice about how to reach your internal “prospects.” 

Find your gifted amateurs

Interestingly, the most successful BI communication efforts I’ve seen were not from official teams. Instead, they leveraged the spare-time expertise and hobbies of the staff members (e.g. amateur actors and family film-makers making spoof "ads").

These were far more creative than the average internal materials. Sadly, they were also slightly subversive, and blatantly misused other people’s intellectual property, so while they might be OK for internal use (I’m no lawyer), I can’t post them here on the blog.

Think like Madison Avenue

Play on the existing difficulties faced by potential users of the BI solution, emphasize the benefits of the new system, and give very simple, concrete steps to get people started. And do it in a way that stands out from the ordinary and combines an awareness of natural cynicism about anything to do with IT with the natural optimism of progress and increasing ease of use..

You should plan out a full “campaign” that slowly eases people into the idea of using the solution, building on existing knowledge, one step at a time. It’s better and more effective to build awareness over time, rather than trying to explain everything at once.

Keep it simple

It’s absolutely essential to make the prospect user’s very first step as easy as possible – if you can get people to come to your internal portal portal page, you’ve already had a big win. The next most important step is to make sure they don’t leave before you’ve had a chance to hook them.

Ultimately, branding is about the solution itself, not the brochures. No amount of “marketing” will help if the BI project doesn’t meet people’s needs.

Initially, you should make the product interfaces themselves as simple as you can possibly make them. Turn off anything that might possibly confuse the users – and note that if you’re reading this blog, it’s almost impossible for you to imagine how even the simplest of things can trip people up. If people complain they don’t have enough features, that’s great – you can always unleash more power later.

The power of dashboards

Sexy dashboards, such as those built with Xcelsius, are a great way of generating interest in internal data. I’ve seen internal campaigns that included “mock-up” interactive dashboards that were spectacularly successful – to the point where the project team had to scramble to manage expectations back down. In particular, dashboards can help you reach executive audiences that might not otherwise find the time to pay attention to your work.

Track your progress, and keep communicating

Use business intelligence to track your business intelligence efforts, including adoption rates, and regular surveys to get people’s opinion of the solutions. And don’t assume that you can stop communicating as soon as people are using it. The BI solution will be updated, people will change roles – make sure that ongoing communication is an integral part of your long-term strategic BI plans.

But do you need a BI theme tune?

Jill Dyché of Baseline Consulting posted on the subject of BI branding on her blog, and mused about taking this to the next level, with “audio branding”. If you want to do this, you might be able to find an amateur musician who can help you put together the ultimate BI theme music…

Talking of BI theme music reminded me that I haven’t yet posted the lyrics of Andreas Bitterer and Nigel Rayner’s rendition of “I’ll BI Watching You” featured at the start of the keynote of the latest European Gartner conference.

Get ready to groan, and see previous post for the video. (Here’s a video of The Police doing the real version)

I’ll BI Watching You

Every warehouse you make
All data replicate
Each data mart you create
Every schema you shape
We’ll be watching you

Every report you spool
Every query that’s uncool
Every OLAP you cube
Every consultant you confuse
We’ll be watching you

Oh, can’t you see
You need BI strategy
Performance management takes
Many steps to make

Every user you placate
Downturn you navigate
For the costs you save
And the profits you crave
You need BI

Data’s lost without a trace
It’s somewhere inside your database
You looked around
But there’s nothing you can replace
No need to start another vendor chase
Just keep trying, maybe, maybe, please

Oh can’t you see
You need BI strategy
Performance management takes
Many steps to make

Every user you placate
Downturn you navigate
For the costs you save
And the profits you crave
You need BI





One response to “Branding Your BI Solution: Everything Up to And Including Theme Music?”

  1. Matt Duncan Avatar

    Timo, great blog. I agree with you 1000%. I have seen many BI projects fail, or at least never meet their full potential value, ultimately because the project teams shunned sales and marketing. Life for BI teams could be so much more fruitful if they would just do some marketing. I think way to many BI project teams are over-confident in the “build it they will come” trap. Why is this so? You have some great tips on doing at least some branding/marketing on a shoestring budget but I hardly even see these actions encouraged by BI project leaders. I personally think it would be wonderful to see a BI team actually work with the company’s marketing department and act just as if they were rolling out a new product to external consumers. You never see the external facing portions of organizations forgetting the branding and marketing but so many internal IT projects, and especially BI, do and that is a shame. Marketing/branding/sales should be a part of every BI project plan and budget, not an afterthought and definitely not ignored entirely.