As fans the world over prepare for the release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” one thing is clear: The film is having quite the impact, not just in the consumer sector, but in the enterprise and technology industries as well. A number of organizations are leveraging the film’s popularity to further their own brand initiatives. Fast Company’s Jeff Beer might have said it best: “[I]t will come as a surprise to exactly no one that the number of brands tapping the iconic film franchise isn’t about to slow down any time soon.”
Recently, both Microsoft and HP Inc. took inspiration from Star Wars to boost their brands and develop innovative technological solutions. Let’s take a look at how these companies are calling upon the Force to support their success:
In early November, news of the Hewlett-Packard split became public, and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and HP Inc. were born. Beer noted that the separation meant networking equipment, industrial servers, software and other related services would fall under the Hewlett-Packard Enterprise umbrella, while HP Inc. would deal with more consumer-facing solutions like PCs and printing.
With the birth of HP Inc. came a winning ad campaign centered around a Star Wars theme. The company released several advertisements all featuring the new slogan, “Keep Reinventing.” HP Inc.’s chief marketing officer Antonio Lucio noted that the tagline is particularly important, and underscores the business’s mission to maintain its relevance.
“Lucio sees Star Wars a bit like the Olympics,” Beer noted. “It’s a fantastic opportunity but the brand is also competing against all the other brands who have the same chance. The goal is to make it as memorable and identified with your own brand as much as possible. For HP, the key was to use technology – and Star Wars – as a vehicle for emotion.”
Lucio noted that the “Keep Reinventing” slogan brought a certain ethos to the brand, and would help create an emotional connection with their target consumer audience. While the company is still gaining its footing in the industry and the ad campaign is only in its beginning stages, HP Inc. has found it to be successful so far.
“You need to embrace the culture, align everyone under one vision and mission, and strike a chord that hits both externally and internally,” Lucio said. “And you need to make sure that the brand comes to life that’s meaningful to consumers and employees around the world. Our journey is just beginning.”
HP Inc. isn’t the only technology company to identify with Star Wars. For years, Microsoft has been developing and advancing the speech, language and translation capabilities within its solutions. However, WinBeta contributor Kareem Anderson noted that inspiration from popular Star Wars character C-3PO helped push the most recent advancements.
“Inspiration from C-3PO helped push the most recent advancements.”
Microsoft has been a front-runner in the speech technology industry for years now. In 1995, the world got a taste of the first speech tools featured in Windows 95. Later, in 2007, it released Mobile Voice Search, the predecessor to Bing. In 2011, Siri – the veritable standard when it comes to speech technology – was released. Now, the company is looking to further its Skype Translator technology, after making German, Mandarin and other versions available earlier this year.
Microsoft group engineer Fil Alleva noted that as the team worked to further develop the translation capabilities in Skype, it took inspiration from an unlikely place. C-3PO held the key, as it was the character’s ability to not only understand, but speak innumerable languages that helped spur advancements.
“What we all had in the back of our minds, whether we say it or not, was C-3PO,” Alleva said.
While the team is still working to perfect Skype Translator for a number of different languages, it is using Microsoft’s other solutions – including Cortana and TellMe – to gather data and help them better understand usage cases. With this information, Alleva and Microsoft seem confident that, with the help of technology like Skype Translator, the language barrier will be eliminated in the very near future.
“With Cortana slowly branching out to other platforms, collecting data and various use cases as well as tools such as Microsoft’s TellMe gathering millions of text-to-speech combinations, it may only be a matter of time before speech recognition becomes as ubiquitous as droids like 3-CPO (sic) are in a galaxy far, far away,” Anderson wrote.