OnBlog: The Onboard Informatics Blog

Conversations on the Art and Science of Information

The End of the Beginning

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One of the challenges I took on when I first arrived at Onboard Informatics was to take a long hard look at the overall corporate brand.  I knew from day one that Onboard was one of the strongest companies in its niche, but it really was not well known outside of its immediate circle of clients.  I also felt that it wasn’t clear what our company did for a living, nor did our brand presentation accurately reflect the level of professionalism and expertise that was in place here.

Furthermore, every time I told my friends where I worked, they would ask me for discounts on cruises.  Turns out, there’s a company out there that publishes a magazine for the cruise ship industry with a website at www.onboard.com.

So we undertook a detailed investigation into our brand, into the perceptions of clients, internal staff, and of industry participants.  That work initiated a lengthy soul-search about who we were, who we are, and who we want to be.  In other words, your typical brand identity strategy discussion.

It has proven fruitful indeed.

New logo, new name, new stationery, new business cards, new collateral, a new website, and of course, a new blog.  OnBoard LLC has transformed, has grown if you will, into Onboard Informatics.

The new name more closely reflects what it is that we do here: the science of information.  We take disparate bits of data from hundreds of public and private sources, and make sense out of them.  The work that goes into aggregating data, normalizing data, cleaning data, quality-control checking, analysis, and distribution is really significant — and difficult to do.  But there are other companies that do data stuff.  What set Onboard apart was that in addition to the science of data, we focused on how that data gets used by our clients in real estate, media, and technology industries.  I really felt that understanding a client’s business, understanding what they want to achieve and then thinking through how we could help them achieve it, was a matter of judgment, of experience, of… aesthetics.  Hence, our tagline: The Art and Science of Information.

From the start, I knew that we wanted to embrace Cluetrain principles in marketing.  It’s stuff I’d been preaching personally for some time.  In the case of Onboard, it’s a perfect fit.  Our culture is such that we want to talk, and constantly, about what’s good and what’s bad in data, in our products, in our company, and in our industry.  There are all sorts of misconceptions floating around out there (and sometimes, in here) about real estate, about technology, about data, about information, and about consumers — and frank, open conversation would help everyone get to a more optimal approach to our problems.

Creating this forum for all of us to share with all of you was an important step forward.  And I think it’s smart marketing as well.  Because we want to solve real problems for real clients; we want to share what we see as issues for us, for our clients, and for the industry, and discuss ideas that might help.  We want to listen to feedback from all of you to learn what we don’t know, refine what we think we know, and share what we do know.

Personally, I felt that starting a genuinely open corporate blog at OnBlog is a perfect complement to my own interests at Notorious R.O.B.  Rather than having to distinguish between my day-job and my interests, I now have a place where I can discuss both, while separating what flows from my work as the VP of Marketing for one of the most innovative companies in real estate technology from my random personal thoughts and observations.  So for myself, I plan on blogging at OnBlog about the issues that arise from our work with clients — some of the top companies in the industry, and their challenges.  My take is that I blog at OnBlog with our clients, future clients, and partners in mind as the audience.  But I will keep Notorious R.O.B. for the more speculative, futuristic, general marketing-focused topics that have always interested me.

So this is the end of the beginning.  The rebranding, the new website, the new blog — these all represent the culmination of months of hard work.  But they are just the first step on the new road.

I’m looking forward to the journey.

-rsh

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Written by -Rob

July 21, 2008 at 4:15 pm

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