“GE wanted to transform its image from [a] maker of power plants to a company known for the power of its innovative ideas.”
How do you tell the story of a company as large and varied as General Electric? When Jeffrey Immelt took charge as CEO, he realized that the world still saw GE as an appliance and light bulb company. So he set a goal to illuminate GE’s true identity. In partnership with frog, the company undertook a major redesign of its global website and at the same time created a rich comprehensive intranet for hundreds of thousands of GE employees. Six years, 100 websites, and 30 awards later, GE.com reflects the complexity and dynamism of GE and exemplifies the new world standard in global digital communications.
Imagination at Work
To convey this diversity, GE hired frog to rebuild and manage its online presence, and frog did so by emphasizing individual stories that collectively represented the full breadth of GE’s capabilities, from energy and transport to health and imaging. The re-launched front page of GE.com presented a video about how GE’s people and technology are making an impact on the world. A new story is posted every month, building an archive of the vastly different kinds of light GE is spreading around the world. These stories not only help customers and the public better understand GE, but also communicate the company's accomplishments to its employees.
The encompassing name for the site is “Imagination at work,” and examples of this are as wide-ranging as the provision of electricity at the Beijing Olympics, the desalination efforts in Algeria, and the power and clean water supply (and a large donation of health-care equipment) in Ghana. Gathering these stories required assembling a video team, information architects, graphic
designers, animators, writers, and programmers. All told, frog’s team of 17 lived and breathed GE for six years to accomplish Immelt’s goal of telling the company’s full story.
Navigating by the Way People Think
The stories would be pointless if no one could find them, so one of the major tasks for the frog team was how to make 3,000 publicly available pages understandable and navigable. We streamlined the quantity down to 300 and devised a simple navigation scheme based on how people naturally approached the GE.com site (rather than GE’s organizational chart, as had previously been the case).
We kept the language simple and ensured that customers searching for a microwave—the most common search term used on GE.com—would find the product page easily. In going for the bigger picture of GE, frog was conscious to pay close attention to the original aspects for which the company is still best known.
In addition to the public face of GE.com, frog also designed an extensive internal communications tool that combined more than 100 separate intranets and accommodated multiple languages and countries. This new insideGE platform was launched in February of 2009. The site, a destination for 300,000 GE staff worldwide, features targeted information, unified company storytelling, social networking tools, calendar, staff directory, and news feed features. During a time of global economic turmoil, insideGE provided a means for dialogue within the organization and demonstrated GE’s ongoing commitment to innovation.