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Yahoo lives and breathes purple

Yahoo blankets its campus in purple and encourages employees to wear Yahoo-branded gear to help build its brand.

Yahoo blankets its campus in its trademark color purple and encourages employees to wear Yahoo-branded gear to work in its efforts to build its brand, according to Cammie Dunaway, chief marketing officer at the search and portal company.

Yahoo offers contests for the most dedicated evangelist among its 13,000 global employees, she said during the keynote speech at the Liquid Agency Brand Summit 2007 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Palo Alto, Calif., Tuesday morning. Employees who do things like ask people who don't work for Yahoo "Do you Yahoo?", memorize the company's mission statement and wear Yahoo gear to the office for a day can win trips paid for by the company, she says. Even visitors to Yahoo offices see purple everywhere, from the oversize, purple velvet seats in the lobbies to the purple sprinkler heads in the lawns as the company tries to embed its purple, fun image into people's consciousness.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo encourages its employees to blog about the company too, but urges them not to write anything they wouldn't want reported in The Wall Street Journal, or which they would be embarrassed if their mother read, Dunaway says.

On the traditional marketing front, Yahoo began a "Be a Better" ad campaign last month that will roll out to television, radio and other outlets soon. It encourages consumers to improve their lives by using Yahoo products and brand advertisers to improve their business by using Yahoo search and brand marketing services.

Yahoo's broad user base and its brand marketing savvy make it a popular online partner for big companies that want to get their message out and conduct promos, Dunaway said. She admitted that she was initially hesitant to have Yahoo help promote shock jock Howard Stern's programming on Sirius Internet radio because she was not a big Stern fan and wasn't sure Yahoo should associate its brand with him. She says she changed her mind when she realized how many Stern fans there were among Yahoo users.

Meanwhile, Yahoo's marketing team has come up with a list of things they don't like called "The Sucks List," which includes things like bureaucracy, broken links, pop-ups and vaporware. Also on the list: decaf, fads, bad apples, missing the boat and being behind the curve.

Yahoo has been criticized for being slow to respond to Google's innovation in search and search marketing and reorganized the company late last year in an effort to turn things around. Yahoo's efforts to narrow the gap with Google's paid search juggernaut, AdWords, were hindered by the delay of its new Panama search marketing platform, which fully launched earlier this year.

In attendance at the Liquid Agency Brand Summit were chief marketing officers and representatives from Intel, Ask, Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, Symantec, eBay and Adobe, among other companies. Google, which was named the top brand last month despite the fact that it doesn't spend money on advertising, was not at the event, possibly because it was preparing to hold its own event for advertisers later in the day in Mountain View, Calif.