Video: Why Your Great Work Doesn’t Always Work

Donna Root, Creative Director 3M Brand Designs, used examples from her iconic work in corporate design for Intel and 3M to illustrate what it takes to get the job done in large company environments with extensive bureaucracies.

At Intel, Donna took the Intel chip brand from 4B to 20B value added to industry partners.

But how did the process begin?

Starting Point:

  • Multiple processor sub-brands, all with large internal teams championing their success.
  • Complex pricing structure.
  • Stakeholders across the company unwilling or hesitant for change.
  • Innovation was of high-value at Intel but led to too many sub-brands.

What was happening?

  • Prices on processors were tanking – nothing seemed to work to change this.
  • Consumers were confused – no differentiation between all the processor brands.

Donna’s team embarked on a multi-year process. The research on why processor prices were tanking led to decisions to reduce the sub-brands to three and differentiate them in the marketplace while building key partnerships.

She had to reinforce the strategy while dealing with emotions and communicating the process regularly to stakeholders who hoped to save their innovations. She turned team-members into advocates and collaborators for change. She came to really understand the products so the engineers respected her wisdom leading to understanding for the change management process.

Ultrabook - Increasing Purchase Intent

Taking the processor business an extra step – Intel worked with industry partners on the Ultrabook standard. Original marketing concentrated on selling the “sexy” PC as a product.

What is an Ultrabook? What is an Ultrabook Launch Video

Ultrabook Desperado Commercial Ultrabook Desperado Video

Donna’s team looked for a new way of storytelling, focusing on Intel’s investment in girls and women’s issues.

With product based campaigns the purchase intent was measured at 19% but with the “Girls Rising” campaign, Ultrabook purchase intent rose to 61%. Donna’s work created an emotional connection to the brand and the concept broadened the vision for Intel.

Intel's Girls Rising Campaign

3M’s New Marketing Approach

3M was losing brand awareness especially among the coveted Millennial market.

Again, Donna embarked on a multi-year process to shift the perceptions of 3M.

Year 1:

At SXSW 2015, the team used interactive displays at their LifeLab booth, to showcase 3Ms innovations and introduce 3M to a new audience who learned what they do. Results were good and ROI could be communicated to upper management stakeholders. 3M gained buzz, followers, excitement and brand value.

3M SXSW Highlights 2015 Video

Year 2:

Donna’s team took the LifeLab to a higher level to show “Who” 3M is. What could participants do to change the world? Ideas toward a greater good.

The Power of 9 Billion 3M SWSW 2016 Video

  • The campaign had 304 million impressions and 1.5 million engagements.
  • Increased purchase intent of 3M products without showing any products.
  • Participants could donate to the charity of their choice and improve the world.

Insights for Others Creating Change in Large Companies

  • Change takes time – it might be a multi-year project.
  • Know your audience.
  • Authentically stand for something
  • Make an idea an experience – especially with Millennials, who need to understand what your brand cares about.
  • Test ideas using unconventional approaches – Donna told stakeholders her “Girl’s Rising” campaign video was “Just a Pilot.” It worked.
  • Go for the minimum number of approvals – don’t get bogged down in the bureaucracy.
  • Align with other risk takers in your organization.
  • Present your viewpoints carefully and tie them into emotions, promotions and old ideas so they move the needle but don’t over-extend people’s ability to accept the change.
  • Bring out the passions in others – Intel’s “Look Inside” campaign Look Inside Campaign: Jack Andraka
  • Know your strengths (StrengthsFinder), use them and know you are good at your job.


Q: If you did a 3rd SXSW what would it be?

A: Freeform, rather than a booth – make it community-driven and linked to 3M values.

Q: How do you define brand/branding. What has changed?

It used to be a big binder with logo specifications and logo clearances. Now people want to know “who you are.” Then, it is how you visualize who you are to the outside world. There are no guidelines – branding is more tonal. Be willing to state what you stand for.

Q: In your experience, how do you pitch so you transcend the analytical approach?

A: Intel was very analytical. It is the ability to speak to them in language that they understand. Really learn who they are, what they want next, where they have come from and make your presentations all about them.

Q: Have you had any work flop?

A: This happens when you completely miss what you are seeing in front of you. You can’t connect with someone (to pitch the idea), or you haven’t made the right relationships. These are times to lean-in and keep reworking the process. You may need to make a call on stuff that doesn’t work – this isn’t the place to do this work, maybe. Or dig in further to what the brand stands for, and how to work with the personalities. Executive alignment and champions are necessary.

Design for a Corporate Client

Creative Director Donna Root has helped drive great creative work from inside Intel and 3M as part of their iconic brand campaigns. But how? In this presentation, Donna will discuss hiring, managing, growing and selling design inside big companies — from the C-Suite across sprawling bureaucracies.