This is the first in a series of 3 blog posts that will walk you through our 2016 Red Hat Summit theme process. In this post, we’ll focus on the first phase of our process – messaging development.
Each year, the Creative Strategy + Design Team and the Content Team work together to create a theme for the biggest event for Red Hat – The Red Hat Summit. It is the premier open source technology event to showcase the latest and greatest in cloud computing, platform, virtualization, middleware, storage, and system management technologies.
2016 will be the 12th consecutive year Red Hat has hosted this event. Each year our teams find fresh new ways to talk about and visualize open source and show why it’s the only development model that can keep up with the demand for innovation. This year, we not only created a theme about open source, but we used the open source methodology to develop the theme as well.
Above is an image of the Red Hat creative process. This is very similar to most creative processes but what makes ours different is that we do this all in the open. “Collaboration,” “Release early, release often,” and “The best ideas win” are all things you hear in the open source development community. But it doesn’t have to be limited to software development.
This year we strived to bring the open source mentality to the creative process. We collaborated with Red Hatters outside of our teams who were invested in the project, getting their opinions and perspectives early. We had frequent check-ins with the project’s stakeholders, getting rid of the “big reveal” approach and working toward a more continuous, iterative process. And we didn’t judge where ideas came from – a good idea is a good idea. It was a bumpy road at first because it was a new way of working, but in the end it made the final outcome so much better.
Below is a quick run-through of the steps we took to land on a final messaging theme.
STEP ONE: DEFINE & RESEARCH
The process started with a large kickoff meeting with key members of Marketing Communications teams, including Creative, Content, Events, PR, and Corporate Marketing. In this meeting, we defined the goals of this year’s theme and discussed some findings from last year’s attendee survey and research from other events. All of this information was collected and developed into the creative brief.
STEP TWO: IDEATE
Once the creative brief was vetted and approved, we held a creative brainstorm with all of the designers and writers on our team (about 20 people) to help generate initial ideas. In this meeting we focused on answering 3 questions to keep the focus on the attendee experience:
- Why attend Summit instead of any other IT conferences?
- What is 1 tweet you’d want people to post while at Summit?
- What does “experiencing open source” mean to you?
We ended up with more than 100 different ideas.
STEP THREE: NARROW
A smaller group of us collected all of the ideas from the larger group and sifted through to see what ideas popped up more than once and which best answered the challenges identified in the creative brief.
10 ideas rose to the top.
- Open source is everywhere
- Access to experts & developers
- Learn about new features, keep up with what’s the latest industry & Red Hat trends
- The future
- Emerging technology
- Fun & engagement
- Red Hat brand loyalty
- Expertise/thought leading
- Perspective/Diversity of ideas
STEP FOUR: IDEATE, AGAIN
From those stream-of-consciousness ideas, we then got together and brainstormed how to group the ideas into theme “buckets.” What ideas fit together nicely? Which are unique to the open source community and Red Hat?
We ended up with 4 buckets.
Bucket 1: Learn, network, experience open source.
Learn, network, experience open source. It’s more than just a 12-year-old tagline. It’s a way of organizing the leading technology conference into discrete areas, to bring order to the chaos of 6,000 passionate folks descending on the Moscone Center. Open source isn’t on the outskirts anymore; it’s the heart of technological innovation, and Red Hat Summit is the pulse.
To an extent, “learning and networking” are a part of any conference, but that doesn’t make them less valuable. From training, hands-on labs, and demos to parties, breakout sessions, and the Partner Pavilion, we set the table for getting to know ideas and people. But there’s something unique about Summit–it’s where you go to actually experience open source. It’s where you engage with master tinkerers at the top of their game, where you see code fly from fingertips and bring projects to life in front of your eyes. It’s where you see real-life applications built with passion, built in communities, and built for the enterprise. No other conference on earth gives you access to the caliber of open source experts and developers that you find at Red Hat Summit. So come to learn. Come to network. And come to define what experiencing open source means to you.
Bucket 2: Interpretation
Ancient Egyptians developed a complicated written alphabet of hieroglyphics they used throughout their empire. Today, more than 2,000 years later, we know how to read them, how to write them, and how to understand them in context with their original intent–all thanks to 1600 pounds of rock we know as the Rosetta Stone.
Except the Rosetta Stone itself is useless without the team of dedicated, tireless, and passionate experts who immersed themselves in the study of the language for decades. It’s because of them that we can translate hieroglyphics into English, or German, or Chinese, without losing the context and value of the original Egyptian.
Rosetta Stone : hieroglyphics :: Red Hat Summit : open source. We know your company is pushing–or being pushed–for more open source technology in your infrastructure. We also know how daunting that feat can seem. Our experts are tireless, dedicated, and passionate, and have immersed themselves in open source communities for more than 20 years. We know the people. We understand the context. We speak the language of open source communities–collaboration is our shibboleth–and we know how to interpret it for the language of enterprise IT.
Come to Red Hat Summit to learn what open source technologies can do for your enterprise, and how Red Hat can help.
Bucket 3: Power of participation
The next 5 years of the industry are in flux. We’re all looking at 2020 without perfect 20/20, so we need the strongest mix of perspectives to help realize a future that’s bursting with opportunities.
That’s what the power of participation means to Red Hat Summit. It’s about collaborating on the same problems from different perspectives. Lumber Liquidators and Dropbox may sell products at opposite ends of the spectrum, but both companies worry about online security, about scaling with growth, about moving to mode 2 without wasting their investments in mode 1. Summit provides the hub for these diverse spokes to come together, to identify what they have in common, and to help explore answers from different backgrounds.
Because your best ideas can come from places you least expect. Just ask Percy Spencer, the man who walked in front of a magnetron in 1945 with a chocolate bar in his pocket and invented the microwave because of it.
Come to Summit with an open mind, and experience the power of participation.
Bucket 4: Ability to adapt
1 doesn’t become 2 by leaving itself behind; it becomes 2 by adding another.
It’s the same with your IT, because evolving doesn’t mean replacing. The industry is in a state of constant change, and you need to be thinking the same way. You can’t start over every time a newfangled whizbang comes out, but you can talk to experts who know your IT challenges, who know the whizbangs that came before, and who can help you strategically adjust to incorporate the most useful aspects of new technologies to maximize the investments you’ve made already.
STEP FIVE: NARROW, AGAIN
We shared all 4 concepts and their rough abstracts with the larger Summit team and talked through the pros and cons of each.
Together, we narrowed down to 2 concepts.
STEP SIX: PROTOTYPE
To make a decision on which of the 2 messaging themes would work best, we tested them out. Using the attendee journey as our guide, we identified user experiences at key steps along the journey that would align well to each theme.
Power of Participation
STEP SEVEN: CHOOSE
Finally, we chose one. It came down to a pretty simple decision because of the distinct difference in focus between the 2 concepts. Power of Participation was all about the people behind the technology. Adaptability was all about the technology and its capabilities.
Power of Participation was chosen.
Take a look at the next blog post in this series to see how we took the chosen messaging theme and visualized it.