Francisco Delgadillo, vp and executive creative director at Oracle, knows a thing or two about branding. He began his career as an intern at Adobe where he worked on in-application features and marketing for Adobe Illustrator 6.0, then served as founding art director of The San Jose Mercury News’ Nuevo Mondo weekly. At Oracle, he tackled what had been his real love in college—corporate brand identity—and rose quickly through the ranks, working directly with ceo Larry Ellison and his corporate marketing officer. After a five-year hiatus during which he ran his own branding studio, Gestudia, Delgadillo returned to Oracle as head of Brand Creative, the company’s in-house creative agency, which handles branding and design for worldwide corporate marketing programs.
Over the past eight years, Oracle’s portfolio of corporate events represent “a unique opportunity for the company to engage with customers in memorable and meaningful brand experiences,” Delgadillo says. And as the company continues to redefine itself in today’s competitive landscape of cloud technologies, these experiences are more critical than ever.
EM features editor Sandra O’Loughlin sat down with Delgadillo at this year’s Oracle OpenWorld, which took place Oct. 25-29 in San Francisco. Read more about it in the December issue of Event Marketer. In the meantime, here is Delgadillo’s take on everything from Oracle branding, messaging and how the company plans to shed 10 pounds and 10 years as it modernizes itself.
Event Marketer: How does Oracle think about branding, and how do you actually do it?
Francisco Delgadillo: Oracle is a leading engineering company, and so for the creative and the brand team to be successful in delivering and expressing that leadership to the marketplace we have to recognize that as a source of truth for us. Then, we look at what the lab is doing in terms of cloud software development and hardware development, and we also match it against what the market research is telling us. Then we align the messages that the organization wants to share with the marketplace and the messages and products that the marketplace actually wants access to.
EM: What was the goal for Oracle OpenWorld 2015?
FD: Oracle OpenWorld is an ideal opportunity to tell our 60,000 attendees about the latest and greatest in product development around cloud, big data and engineered systems, but also it allows us to showcase our customer success stories, and that is what you see both in digital impressions as well as print impressions.
EM: How has Oracle OpenWorld evolved over the past decade?
FD: We have decided to focus more on the customer and on the experiences that they find here at the event. So that it is not just about the number of sessions and the speakers, but it is about the topics and the themes and how those topics and themes are expressed not only in the keynote stages and the technical sessions but also in the various experiences that attendees have in networking lounges, and also some other more fun, interactive experiences of which we have three new ones this year.
EM: Tell us about those fun, interactive experiences.
FD: We felt like we really pushed the limits, both the creative and brand limits. At first we weren’t sure that it felt right. It is like when you go shopping and you try a jacket and you go, is this really me? It looks good, but I don’t know if I can pull it off. (Editor’s note: Read more on those interactive experiences in the December issue of Event Marketer.)
EM: And the partnership with Mosaic, which activated those experiences?
FD: We engaged in an exchange of ideas. They were much more comfortable with B-to-C types of experiences. We know Oracle quite well. We are a 38-year-old brand, so by now, we are very, very clear on the heritage, the foundation and the opportunities that we are interested in pursuing. So it was a nice exercise, and at the end, we ended up with some experiences that deliver on enhancing the attendee opportunities to have fun but also reflect the core attributes of the brand, and those core attributes remain, regardless of how we express them, attributes of leadership, innovation, and at the core, an engineering company.
EM: How does emphasizing the customer in your branding enhance your message?
FD: A brand is very much like an individual, and it has traits that echo those of an individual, a real person. And so for us it is very important that we allow and we support and we make opportunities for Oracle, the leader, to use that voice of confidence, of achievement, of break-through, but also we have recognized that that voice, if not complemented by other voices, can be considered arrogant, can be considered not open to feedback and can be considered out of touch. The last thing that we want for the Oracle brand is to be considered irrelevant. We have found successful brands that are happy with the partnership with Oracle, that are happy with the investment that they have made in Oracle technology and more importantly, very happy with the results that they have gained in their respective business and industry. And so, we give our customers the platform on branding, we give them the platform on keynote stages, we give them the platform on video programming.
EM: What about the signage at Oracle OpenWorld?
FD: We have gone from all-vinyl banners to a reusable fabric-based signage system. It is a system of lightweight aluminum frames that are modular in nature, which allows us then to move them easily, and it has an impact on the environment, of course. It has an impact on the budget. A single investment, we can leverage once, twice, three times. In fact, we made the commitment to use three times, but are looking to expand that to a fourth year. At some point we will have to sunset some assets because they begin to show wear and tear, and Oracle is a premium brand we want to reflect that quality.
EM: When I think of Oracle, I think of the color red and bold graphics. How would you describe the graphic identity of the brand?
FD: My cmo Judith Sim likes to say, when Oracle OpenWorld comes to town, I want to see the town painted in red. And we take that to heart, and of course, we have to translate that into budget execution, sustainability goals, the amount of ink, the amount of re-use, and combine that with the modernization efforts that we have for the brand. The two key attributes that you mentioned, bold and red, are very, very distinguishable graphic traits of the Oracle brand, however, in the last two years, we’ve embarked in a modernization effort of the brand and that extends to the Oracle OpenWorld brand as well.
EM: How are you modernizing what is now a 38-year-old brand?
FD: We said we are going to shed 10 pounds and 10 years off of the Oracle brand. Not off of us! That means we will continue to deliver bold messages but the style in which we will deliver the messages will have a fresher look, a lighter look, a more agile look. That means not only do we use red as a bold graphic, as a bold color, but we would use it as an accent color so that we could introduce a secondary palette, and we now have orange, green, blue, to complement what is otherwise and continues to be the master Oracle color palette.