Rachael Henke’s short title is just “brand” at Dell Technologies. Her formal title is long, but it’s a big job, for a big company: Director of Global Brand Advertising Content and Customer Engagement Storytelling. That means, per Henke, “everything we do is to elevate the brand.” While most everyone has heard of “Dell,” her job is to ensure everyone knows the larger entity – created from the merger with EMC some three years ago — is actually “Dell Technologies” and that it’s gone from primarily computers to being “an end to end essential technology partner”.
While computers are, as Henke says, “still a very critical part of our business, we really want to focus [on the] B2B space, showing how we’re driving innovation and emerging technologies across areas like cloud storage and AI.” For Henke, that means that while being part of the brand team for a 150,000-person global company is impressive enough, she’s also, necessarily, a woman who can use “hyperconverged infrastructure solutions” in a sentence. But it’s still a human-oriented brand, evidenced from top-down actions like Michael Dell donating $100 million dollars to pro social initiatives during our current COVID-19 crisis. So, in Episode 6 of Insider Interviews, Henke explains how her team approaches brand storytelling – turning complicated offerings into human-oriented content. Here’s a topline of our conversation, edited for clarity:
“Every day is different”: Henke’s days involve “conversations about what products are going to launch… and how that will turn into the vision where we’re going… a lot of conversations around messaging and with customers to understand how our technology gets used.”
Applying Those Conversations To Content: Like TV spots that take the figurative (“is your business going in circles?”) and make it literal, like spokesperson/actor Jeffrey Wright going in circles and upstairs and coming back to the starting point, their B2B brand campaigns aim to showcase how they deliver on solutions, what’s innovative, “and connecting that solution to work for sales teams, too…And If there’s a consumer campaign that works really well, it provides lift to our business side as well.”
That applies to small business as well: One example is working with ad agency MediaCom and audio company Entercom to create a virtual podcast conference, The PodFerence, to spotlight podcasts on relevant topics for customers.
Rinse and Repeat: Henke names brands and marketers she “keeps an eye on” and describes her own goals to balance creative and data: “One of the challenges that any brand marketer has is how the heck do you measure brand advertising, because you’re not necessarily tied to a click, a call, a transactional sale. So we do a lot of measurement …and also make sure we’re not just looking at data in a silo [but working together with other divisions.]”
The Media and Marketing for Tomorrow: Will one of the world’s largest tech companies continue to put budget in linear? Henke is bullish on balancing linear and digital, especially when it comes to now on paused live sports. “It’s really timely to ask that because we are a PGA sponsor and have Dell Technologies Match Play which was supposed to take place in March. But I still feel like sponsorships will still be something strong and that we will continue because let’s face it, people want sports more than ever.” We’re looking at continuing with linear, but figuring out where are people still watching? I think CTV and On Demand will absolutely be part of that mix as well.
For the future? “We truly believe that because of what has happened globally companies are looking at how they digitally transform in a way that makes sense, but also in a practical way. …We want to make sure that our brand is there to be that partner for our customers as they need to make changes because the world will be different.
Balance and Togetherness: Balance – between divisions as well as between work and home – is a continuous theme for Henke. Her bio describes her home life as including one horse-loving child and one gaming-loving child. But she acknowledges, “I don’t know how we all do it. In a moment of vulnerability I’ll just say every day is a challenge. One of the things that I have to harp on myself about is self-care, especially when you work from home”. So, this tech brand expert also relies on tech to remind her to get out and exercise…. “and making sure that I have those moments where I can go and retreat and think and take a step back. I don’t get every day perfect, with two kids running around, but I always have to try to reset with myself.”
And Henke seems to be succeeding.