The Germans aren’t famous for their sense of humour, but even the sternest is likely to have raised a smile at the chaotic rebranding of Siemens Healthcare.
In May 2016 the 45,000 staff of Siemens Healthcare attended an event where – with a straight face – leaders of the 120 year old company announced one of the biggest names in healthcare technology would became Siemens Healthineers.
The quirky and strange name was just the beginning. Attendees (including leading journalists in tech, healthcare and IT) watched in horror as live actors in coloured bodysuits danced to a four-minute animated cartoon rendition of Siemens’ new Heatlhineers song.
The event made headlines across the world, but for all the wrong reasons.
Since then, this epic fail has become something of a legend in the event world and has been hilariously spoofed in a series of viral videos.
It’s easy to laugh, and question just what Siemens was thinking. In fact, the Germans have a word for it, schadenfreude, which roughly translated means experiencing pleasure at the misfortune of others.
There are a number of reasons why the event didn’t work. If you understand them, you won’t make them yourself. We take a look at why the Siemens rebrand was a perfect example of how not to manage a corporate event – and how you can avoid their mistakes.
Respect the brand
Siemens is a traditional business with a long history and an enviable pedigree. It also sells its equipment, machines and expertise to the healthcare sector – not one that’s often treated with levity.
The problem with the relaunch and the event is that it fundamentally misrepresented the brand. In fact, the proud history of the company has seemingly been erased in a rush to create a 21st century business. There’s precedent here – remember Consignia?
It’s even more confusing, as legally speaking the business remains Siemens Healthcare. So lesson one is to understand your brand - if you’re planning an event, make sure that it supports and strengthens your brand, not damages or destroys it.
The Siemens Healthineers song is just one of a number of failed attempts to put corporate slogans and beliefs to music. The problem is, in almost all cases it quite simply doesn’t work.
Corporate songs are just one gimmick. According to those who attended this particular event, the dancers in bodysuits were treated with a variety of reactions including laughter and bemusement.
Technology and innovation can have a place at events. At Cleartech Live we increasingly use technology to break down the barriers between the audience and those delivering the event, creating real-time interactions that can be incredibly valuable.
(For more info see: http://www.cleartechlive.co.uk/service/interactive-services/)
So lesson two is that gimmicks like live performances can work with your event but only if it strengthens your event and works for your brand and business. If it doesn’t then cut it out.
It’s all about the audience
Healthineers isn’t likely to appear in a dictionary any time soon, because it’s an entirely made up that made little sense to those outside a small group who thought it up.
The purpose of the event was to help create a positive shared culture among its staff. What it actually succeeded in doing was, for a mercifully short time, to make the organisation a figure of fun.
It’s easy to assume that as you are planning and paying for the event that it’s all about you. But it isn’t. It’s all about the audience. Siemens forgot that and you shouldn’t.
When planning your event, your brand and business need to be at the forefront of you mind. At Cleartech Live we work with organisations and businesses of all sizes to help them plan and deliver events that engage and excite their audiences.
So the next time your marketing department hands you a brief to create an event that will WOW your delegates, feel free to run it past us – we’ll help you to ensure that your event is remembered for all the right reasons!
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