Since this is the month of Virgo, it seems appropriate to look at how astrology can be used to analyse one method of company communication: company websites. Virgo is a sign that has links with the planet Mercury, who has communication as one of his tasks. This can be confusing to new astrologers because Mercury is also connected to the sign of Gemini (see Gemini posts) which concerns communication. However Gemini is an air sign which is about ideas, exchange of information on a rational basis and networking. A social sign. Whereas Virgo, being one of the earth signs, is much more practical. Virgo words are detail, usefulness, service, order, and in my view, information. Company websites usually have the provision of information as a least one of their goals. Other goals may vary depending on the nature of the company. Virgo is also a very analytical sign.
I will use the large Dutch supermarket Albert Heijn and Air France to show examples of how website analysis can be done. The basis of being able to offer advice on this topic, is the underlying idea that companies should ‘go with the flow’ of their creation date. In other words that they express any company communications in a way that is appropriate to their true nature. Or to put it another way, they should be authentic, not trying to copy anyone else. This is also true for how we should communicate personally. An analogy might be that we should project an image in line with who we are. So if we are at heart a classical music type, we should not dress like a football hooligan, just to fit in and vice versa! Websites are the same. As they form part of the company image, they should project the true nature of the company. The benefits for a company reflecting who they are, are the same as for people who are authentic. For example, attracting suitable partners (for companies attracting good clients or other companies); contentment (happier staff and management); being on the right path (having an appropriate mission). The philosophy behind this would also suggest that companies doing this are more successful.
I have noticed within companies, that creating websites is a tricky issue, as website design is often a matter of taste. Having an independent way of looking at this question has proven to be very helpful (another Virgo word!) It provides a way of focusing and offers a useful framework for discussion.
The sum of the parts
There are several elements of a website that can be studied, and I will use the four astrological elements of fire, earth, air and water to group them accordingly.
Fire – the active part. What does your website make people want to do?
The look and feel of the site which of course includes colour (more later) also includes the design. Be aware of the impact this can have as it can affect how people act once they see your site. Some sites make you hit the back button as soon as you see them. Not everyone reads everything, so the things that you really want people to do should be straightforward and clear.
Fiery companies should have websites that reflect their own need to act.
Colour me Virgo
Colours may have an effect on how we react to a site emotionally, the water element. Although there are many different schools of thought about which colours go with which zodiac signs, a general view might be that practical, earthy companies, such as those having a focus on the three earth signs (Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn) lend themselves to the more earthy autumn colours, and the fire signs (Aries, Leo and Sagittarius), to the warm colours; reds, oranges and yellows. Water (Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces) and Air (Gemini, Libra and Aquarius) can both be blue. Air colours tend to be stronger or brighter or more vibrant whereas the water colours, should indeed be more like a watercolour painting, softer and maybe more muted.
For watery companies the emotional element of the site will take priority.
Now I ask you – is that logical?
Another important reaction is what the site makes visitors think, the air element. Questions here are: is the site logical? Can I easily find what I want? Is the navigation what a visitor would expect? Does it give your clients a new idea?
Airy companies will want to have thought provoking innovative sites.
Why can’t I find the ….telephone number?
And the last thing I will mention is the practical or earth side. Is the site useful? Here of course we are back to Virgo – information – text. Does the site help people find out what they want to know? Is it providing a service? And in true Virgo style, is it correct and without typing errors?
Earthy companies do better with ‘down to earth’ sites.
If the birth date of a company is available, it is possible to give ideas on what the mission of the company should be, what its image should be, and what the heart of the company is. These three elements should be visible in any site or in fact in any logo in my view. The use of astrology makes it possible to generate ideas about the overall communication plan for a company, including the website, as we have seen.
Is Albert Blue?
Amazingly, companies tend to come up with websites that fit these qualities anyway. I will give an example of this in the next section with Air France. However it is much quicker to get to the essentials and improve on a site using this technique. Look at the site of Albert Heijn, the big supermarket chain in Holland. It is sometimes interesting to see how we react to sites when we don’t understand the language. This can be a good test for their look and feel qualities. See www.ah.nl.
The horoscope of Albert Heijn has air at its heart, in its communication and its image, Gemini and Aquarius. It’s mission is fiery, Sagittarius. And indeed the main colour is blue. The website has a sociable feel and gives a lot of different information on the first page. At the time of writing (although one would expect this to change often in a Gemini company) there is also news, a very Gemini phenomenon. It also highlights mobile phones, also Gemini. Going together (to a movie), and ‘vrienden (friends) (van de goede wijn)’, belong to the Aquarian group. The other colour used on their booklet (also a Gemini item) is orange which is the only sign of the mission. Perhaps they don’t want us to know that their mission is growth, to be the biggest, overseas too!
The Virgo Company – Air France
Air France was born on 30th August 1933 and inaugurated on October the 7th, coincidentally (or maybe not) the same day as KLM was born some years earlier in 1919. The inauguration date is widely published on their site. However the registration date is not. One could say that they want the inauguration date to reflect the public image, and indeed the site is much more in line with this date. But to me the official registration date will reveal much more about the real aims of the company. Philosophically it would be interesting to debate this point with Air France management. However I believe intention to be very important and dates will reflect the intention at the time. So it would be necessary to find out what these two dates mean for Air France, because it would be wise to give advice on the site using only one of these days. My advice would be to go for the first one. Of course the inauguration date is the start of the company going public, so it is still important.
So really although they are heavily disguised as a Libra company like KLM, (see the next post on Libra), Air France started life as a Virgo, albeit with a heavy dose of Pisces energy which we cannot ignore. This is because they were registered on a day when the Sun and Neptune were close together (to be technical for a moment.) Neptune and Pisces go together, so we have to take this archetype into account when dealing with anything to do with the heart of the company or the management. Virgo and Pisces are actually opposite signs although they have ‘service’ in common. So my advice for the website would then be to use the qualities of four archetypes instead of the usual three. Virgo-Pisces for the heart, Aquarius for the mission and Gemini for the image. So air-earth with a splash of water. The inauguration date is air and fire and indeed this is reflected in the site which is fiery red, white and airy blue matching the French flag which seems appropriate for the national airline of France. But is this real?
Will the Real Air France stand up?
Can we find the real Virgo Air France on the site? Let’s go to www.airfrance.com and take a look. **Note this site has changed since the time of writing but the principles will still apply. ** The first page has no earthy feel at all in terms of colour. If I am looking to book a flight it is also not very obvious where I should go so I am missing the Virgo practicality and service. Interestingly if I choose a country I don’t always get the same colours. At the time of writing the Netherlands actually has a bit of green but UK and Singapore and Australia for example do not! (This leads me to another train of thought. We could use the horoscope of the country of our clients to see what would work well there, but that’s off on another tangent. Maybe another post!) This does show a less desirable Virgo characteristic though – a possible lack of overview and corporate strategy. The general look and feel is that there is a lot of detail and information also fitting for a Virgo or a Gemini company.
I was actually looking for information about Air France when I was studying company cycles and tried to find their mission statement. Many companies now have this on their sites. Air France should be striving for Aquarius goals, such as innovation, technology, social responsibility (this last is also Piscean), to name a few. This is almost impossible to find. First we get a list of news in French (in the small print at the bottom we can choose another language!) So it’s news – Ok for the Gemini bit. But it wasn’t what I was expecting (a list of corporate topics, since I chose corporate from the home page. This is better on the US site.) Home also doesn’t take me home – I am starting to yearn for the back button as this is not very logical, which it should be (Gemini-Aquarius). Or not in fact service-oriented (Virgo/Pisces).
I chose ‘the airline – intro’ hoping for some ideas on the main features of the airline. This page is total Virgo – all facts and figures about money and shares. There is a short part on priorities but that’s for Air France- KLM together. It fits Virgo but in a negative way for some visitors. Finally I get down to a Quality Strategy, perfect for the heart of the company but not really for the mission. In fact the strapline is Management through Quality. Perfect for Virgo management. Safety and the Environment are part of the mission too, also quite earthy. So I am am happy that Virgo is indeed lurking there and may be part of the true nature of Air France. I am however still looking for Aquarius and finally I find it in the ‘Integrated management’ piece. An ‘open minded approach’ buried somewhere in the text.
Under the ‘fleet’ there is also a reference to flexibility and rationalization as goals, and under networks and hubs some advantages for clients. I am seeing now I think the negative side of Pisces, a website which is a bit chaotic. The humanitarian side I was seeking is shown finally under sponsorship – Humanitarian projects. This could be a major selling point for Air France but it is a good bet that not many people would be aware of this from this site. Cultural Events also shown here are Piscean in nature. If I go to the US site from the home page it’s a whole new ball game – I almost give up here but it was good that I didn’t because here is something wonderfully…
Film. This belongs to the Pisces group and under the history button are films. This is something I would definitely recommend for companies with this sign strongly featured. Another one of the films under sustainable development shows the dangers to animals (also Virgo/Pisces) of bringing back souvenirs. The social responsibility is clear here.
These are a few comments to show how this service could be used and does not of course give a complete analysis which would have to be done together with Air France. But my conclusion for Air France would be to highlight much more the areas which display the Virgo/Pisces and Gemini/Aquarius features positively. These are indeed all present but not always given the attention they deserve. I was left with the feeling that Air France are trying to fit in with normal company practices, when I suspect they are in fact a much more caring, quirky, creative company.
If they dared to show this they may be even more successful and happier than they are now.
Interesting website of the month
As Virgo is the sign that rules daily working life, habits and health, the following site may be of interest. It was part of the BBC lab stress test, however the test is no longer online. Stress is now a major problem for many managers and this can lead to further problems in companies.
Quote of the Month
“It is completely unimportant. That is why it is so interesting!”
Agatha Christie, 1890-1976, English Detective Novelist and Playwright, herself a Virgo.