Is a Company Tattoo the Ultimate in Branding?

Mar 23, 2010
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

You love your company. You love its culture, its people, its products. And you feel great coming to work every day.

But would you get the company’s logo tattooed on your arm?

Michael Long did. And he only officially become an employee at tech hosting company Rackspace this month.

Here he is, though, at last week’s South By Southwest getting his tat as bemused onlookers take pictures.

The tagline on the video sums things up pretty neatly: “Fanatical! has now been defined.” That’s a double entendre, describing Long’s personal commitment and Rackspace’s corporate culture. Everywhere on the company website you find references to Fanatical Support, a mission as much as a slogan that Rackspace takes so seriously it’s registered it as a trademark.

I tried to get a hold of Long and his boss, Rackspace SVP Wayne Roberts. But no luck. I wanted to talk about the tattoo of course. But I also wanted to know how the company developed the kind of culture it did. Not everyone (hardly anyone?) will get a logo tat, but in developing the company’s new talent portal, Rackspace opened up the project to its employees. It crafted the core values statement, says Long, who was a consultant to the project.

You might know Long better as The Red Recruiter, progenitor of The Red Shoe Project. The project raises awareness, particularly in the recruiting community, for a San Francisco non-profit, My New Red Shoes, which provides indigent kids with new school clothes.

Since last September, Long has been consulting with Rackspace to develop its new recruiting site. (It was an ERE awards finalist three years ago for the best site.) He became so taken with the company, that when he was asked to take charge of its social recruiting and branding efforts, he said yes. Racker Talent launched earlier this month, and, as Long says in a blog posting, it’s a talent portal, not merely a career site.

“We wanted to create something that would allow future Rackers to peer through the window and gain an understanding around what the culture at Rackspace really meant,” he blogged. “The hope being that once they had a chance to see it, they would be more inclined to engage in dialog about potential opportunities.”

Racker Talent is still being developed. The pictures of the people at work and play will be supplemented by videos; the blog posts will grow. But the fundamentals of an engaging site are there. When you see the pictures of CEO Lanham Napier flexing in a Rackers t-shirt (red, coincidentally … or not) at SxSW, you certainly get the impression that there’s nothing starchy about this company. You certainly get to peer through the window.

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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