Lenovo looks to inject ‘excitement’ into brand as it prepares to take on Apple and Samsung

Lenovo is hoping to use its recent rebrand to inject excitement into a brand that it admits many people in the UK haven’t heard of as it preps the  release of its first range of Motorola smartphones since it bought the company last year.

Lenovo breaker

Lenovo unveiled the rebrand at an event in China last month. It includes an updated logo, designed by Saatchi & Saatchi New York, that was specifically designed so that the background can be changed to show different colours or even images and video to make it relevant to the context it is being used in.

It was accompanied by what chief marketing officer David Roman calls a “new brand idea”, rather than a strapline. “Never stand still” (see video below) is meant to convey that Lenovo is a brand that moves quickly, adapting to new technologies and needs, he told Marketing Week.

Roman admits that outside its core markets – places like China and Brazil – Lenovo is little known. He says the UK perception of Lenovo is based on its commercial brand, namely the ThinkPad range of PCs. While these are well regarded, he said, known for being strong, reliable and good value for money they are “uninteresting”.

“Lenovo is not a brand people get excited about. What I’d like to get to is where the outside world sees the brand the way we see ourselves. We see ourselves as being a company driven by innovation, trying out new things in technology. We want the outside world to see that and feel the energy about it,” he said.

That most people in the UK haven’t heard of Lenovo might seem surprising given its global status. Lenovo is the third biggest smartphone maker in the world and the largest PC manufacturer. However it is yet to focus its brand on the UK or the rest of Europe.

While some brands might see antipathy as a challenge, Roman sees it as an opportunity. He believes it is easier to go out to the market and tell people about the brand that try to change perceptions.

“When companies have a well established position in the market, an entrenched position, its hard to change. It takes time and a lot of effort to get people to rethink. People just don’t know us.

“Our brand consideration in the UK is low but when you look at why its because they don’t have a clue who we are, they may know the name but they don’t associate us with anything. There is nothing negative its just they don’t know. That makes it easier to go and tell people who we are and what we do,” he said.

Using Motorola

That has changed since Lenovo bought Motorola. That acquisition gives Lenovo a presence in markets such as the US and UK.

Roman admits little has yet been done to integrate the company into Lenovo because it “didn’t want to break anything”. It is prepping the release of the first smartphones under the Motorola brand since it bought the company but said this has had little input from Lenovo.

Going forward, however, he wants Motorola to “be part of Lenovo”. Although the company is still figuring out what that will look like, Roman suggested the integration would be similar to the work done when Lenovo bought ThinkPad from IBM.

“ThinkPad was a very successful brand under IBM and we managed to connect it to Lenovo and make it strong than ever. But ThinkPad was a product brand and Lenovo the company that makes it and the attributes you associate with the company are different to the product.

“Ideally what I’d like to have is ‘Lenovo Moto’, where Moto is the cool brand in the smartphone space.”

David Roman, Lenovo CMO

Lenovo will have other [smartphone] products but there will be something unique about Moto, a personality that is cool and a functionality based on customisation. Their tagline of ‘choose choice’ is based on technology, in an ideal world that will be connected with Lenovo,” he said.

Avoiding smartphone pitfalls and competing with the big guns

The list of companies that have attempted to transition from PC to mobile in markets such as the US and UK and failed is long – with Microsoft and HP the most obvious exmaples with their acquisitions of Nokia and Palm respectively.

Roman says where they went wrong is in buying mobile companies that had failed to transition to smartphones. Motorola, he claimed, has already done this and is making an impact in newer products such as smartphones with the 360 – the best selling Android smartwatch on the market.

“Our product offering is strong. We are there. We have the products and it is up to us to build the brand in a way that’s relevant. With smartphones growing so much people think of them as being a mature category but it is still very early and a lot can chance,” he said.

By buying Motorola, however, Lenovo has pitched itself into direct competition with the marketing might of Samsung and Apple. Roman admits that there is no way Lenovo could compete with the two based on how much they spend.

Instead it is looking to create campaigns around consumer moments and bringing value to them. The first iteration of “Never stand still” focused on lifehacks, with Lenovo curating content and providing a site that offered to help people, for example giving information on how to connect a printer or make an iPhone speaker out of a jar (see video above).

He cited the example of GoPro, which he said has built an incredible brand without running a single ad.

“The good news is that in this space you can build a brand very quickly if you have the right products and the right differentiation. It used to be very proportionate to ad spend, now it’s much more if you have the cool thing. Go Pro is an incredible brand. It does not have revolutionary technology per se but the stuff people do with it is so compelling that people share it. That’s what we hope to do,” he said.

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