Branding Makes The Brand Sizzle

This month, three major technology companies – Seagate Technology, Scotts Valley, Calif.; Sun Microsystems, Palo Alto, Calif.; and 3Com Corp., Santa Clara, Calif. – all launch major branding campaigns, which include heavy TV exposure.

The new campaigns are geared at increasing. container mind share and humanizing products sold mainly to engineers and other professionals.


Before and after

Seagate is known for its hard disk drives, which store data on computers; 3Com sells products such as routers that move network traffic around; and Sun is known for building servers, computers that run networks.

Now, Seagate wants to be known for finding the information you need, 3Com wants its brand recognized on modems and palmtop computers, while Sun wants consumers to embrace the revolution of network computing and its Java technology.

All these campaigns have the right idea, said Marty Brandt, president of ProBRAND, Menlo Park, Calif., a branding consultant and author of the book “Power Branding,” who once worked for Sun.

“The technology businesses have been product-centric,” he says, “but customers buy brands,” and successful branding campaigns by Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp. have driven this message home.

Such campaigns don’t have to be expensive – Mr. Brandt cites Point-Cast and Intuit as building strong brands at low cost – but top management must push the new identities throughout their companies.

Campaigns facing reality

Martin Marshall, analyst at Zona Research, Mountain View, Calif., said the campaigns reflect today’s reality. “Computers are the No. 1 industry in this country, bypassing autos and organized crime. People . . . are now dealing with computers every day.

“The idea of branding something is to get people to give a preference to it, and build a price differential.”

But each branding campaign is a little different. “We want to get through to people that we care about the information they need,” said Paul Wolfe, an executive creative director, Foote Cone & Belding, San Francisco, which created the Seagate ads. The campaign launches this month with TV spots featuring people desperate to get one piece of information. The agency positions Seagate as an information company, uniting hardware and software lines under a single brand and message.

Seagate is expected to spend as much as $50 million over 10 months on its global TV, print and Web advertising; Seagate and FCB declined to confirm a budget.

Seagate is also scoping out a buy in January’s Super Bowl broadcast. NBC is seeking $1.3 million to $1.4 million for a 30-second spot.

Challenging the status quo

The Sun campaign, $30 million of an estimated annual budget of $80 million to $90 million, uses big type to position network-based computing as “challenging the status quo,” said Tracey Stout, Sun’s worldwide advertising director. Sun’s tagline, “The Network Is the Computer,” will be kept, she added, and the ads, from Lowe & Partners/SMS, San Francisco, will give it consumer visibility when its inexpensive network computers hit the market next year.

3Com was known for obscure corporate networking hardware before it bought U.S. Robotics, a Skokie, Ill.-based modern maker. The ads, also by FCB, use an $80 million budget to create a brand for its broadened product line, says Larry Loper, 3Com’s marketing communications and branding director.

“The look of all [product] ads will be similar,” he says. “We have to make product advertising work more cohesively, so people know 3Com is one company.”

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