We thought we'd reach out to students with the incredible offer that became www.theultimatesteal.co.uk. If you are not familiar with it - for anyone with a .ac.uk email address, you can get the Ultimate version of Microsoft Office (yes the one that normally costs £650 or so) for £38.95.  Let me say that again:

Got an email address ending .ac.uk?  You can get £650 worth of software for £38.95.  And it is totally legal and above board.

Friends of mine that have used it are amazed by this offer but I think we may have made a mistake by putting it on its own url instead of a page off microsoft.com website.  People worry that it is some illegal pirate site - goodness knows there are lots of those so it is not surprising.  We've been reported to our own anti-piracy group more than once by concerned users.

When they dreamt up the idea for this, the team conducted focus groups with students to get feedback on a few different approaches.  Their idea was, "OK so we are dealing with students, we need to be really funky and cool and have our own branded site.  Let's make it really unorthodox, ditch the corporate speak and look, go for something "edgy"."

Interestingly the feedback from students was less than positive.  Their advice was, don't try too hard.  We like that you are making an effort with us but you know, you're not Apple, you just aren't that cool Microsoft, but we don't need you to be, we like you as you are.  If you try to be "down with the kids", you just look like the friendly Dad doing bad dancing at the disco - do that and we'll cower in the corner, embarrassed by you.  You are who you are, so wear your Dad jumper and be yourself.  We like the security of knowing we are buying from the Dad of software. 

It's an example of a brand understanding itself and how it is perceived.  It's ok to have an aspirational image for your company and in some ways portraying who you want to be but it has to be believable.  There is no point having a cool website but when you meet us we aren't like that.  It is good to know where you want to go and show who you are becoming but you have to be authentic when you talk about it.  Hopefully blogging helps to bring that reality to our brand perception and it seems people like us more when we are ourselves.