Transforming corporate identities beyond the razzle dazzle

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas certainly was the place this week for many companies to announce a dazzling array of new tech products, alliances and ventures.

The best place I found to keep up with what was going on was the excellent Engadget CES blog which had a non-stop stream of posts. Another good resource – CES Blog 2006 from VNU. Certainly far better efforts than the CES’ rather lame blog.

Amongst all the new products and cool things being talked about, I found two corporate announcements of particular interest, one from Eastman Kodak Company and the other from Intel Corporation.

A press release (reg required) on Thursday afternoon from Kodak has Antonio M. Perez, Chairman and CEO, talking about the future of digital imaging and a new alliance with Motorola. Buried down in the body text is this small paragraph:

[…] Perez also unveiled the latest evolution of Kodak’s brand logo. This new look moves the Kodak name out of the traditional yellow box; giving it a more contemporary design, a streamlined rounded look and distinctive letters. This introduction is the latest step in the company’s broad brand transformation effort, which reflects the multi-industry, digital imaging leader Kodak has become.

Kodak logos, old and newAnd here’s that new logo alongside the one that’s familiar worldwide.

For such a major transformation goal, I found it surprising that Kodak revealed their new brand image in such an understated way. Little specific information in their online press center to give you real insight into their strategic thinking and what this means for organizational change other than the corporate-speak in the press release (so you could think it’s no more than a bit of razzle dazzle) and a page about the evolution of the logo over the years.

Perhaps this is indicative of Kodak’s corporate style and the way they do things. I found much more information in a feature yesterday in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (where the image above comes from) which gives you quite a bit more insight:

[…] The new mark, based on a customized typeface, is designed to give the company a contemporary look but be flexible enough to apply in new ways and new venues across Kodak’s varied businesses – everything from tiny handheld digital cameras to computer software to the letters on Kodak buildings around the world.

The logo is one part of Kodak’s larger effort to redefine its brand-name identity, through advertising, public relations, supplier and partner relationships and other in areas. "We want to break out of the box, in a lot of ways," says Betty Noonan, director of brand management and marketing services at Kodak.

While this gives you some more knowledge, it doesn’t give you any sense of how Kodak plan to break out of the box or in what ways.

Contrast this approach with that of Intel, who pulled out all the communication stops to get their new message out to the world.

Starting with rumours a few weeks ago – which Shel and I discussed in show #98 of The Hobson & Holtz Report podcast – then a cover feature in the coming week’s edition of Business Week (which we discussed in show #99), Intel CEO Paul Otellini’s presentation at CES on Thursday effectively dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s on what had already been widely talked about – Intel’s new brand and logo.

Intel logos, old and newAnd here is that new logo alongside the old one.

Intel issued a press release on 3 January explaining the new logo:

[…] The new brand identity involves changes to the widely recognized Intel Inside® logo that was created in 1991, and the original Intel "dropped-e" logo, which was created by Silicon Valley pioneers Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore 37 years ago as they were forming their new "integrated electronics" company. Intel’s new logo combines the essence of both of these powerful symbols, building on Intel’s rich heritage, yet also signaling the new direction the company is headed today. It also includes a new tagline: "Intel. Leap ahead™." This tagline is Intel’s unique brand promise and is designed to communicate what drives Intel as a company, and what Intel makes possible.

It’s much more than just rolling out a new logo, though. This is about organizational change and transforming the business.

Intel’s communicators have done a pretty good job in getting their story out through a wide range of channels, traditional and new. The best one for me is Podtech’s 9-minute podcast interview with Intel CMO Eric Kim. A very clear focus here – this is all about change to meet the demands and needs of the consumer. With some additional background insight, this podcast helps explain the transformation plans far better and more effectively than the formal corporate communication has so far done.

Undoubtedly that’s what Kodak’s about, too – changing to meet the needs of the marketplace. But Intel explains their change a great deal more comprehensively.

The only publicly-unknown quantity at the moment is how the news is going down inside both organizations – what’s the employee reaction? Are they engaged and on board? What do they think? I’d love to be a fly on the wall, so to speak, on Paul Otellini’s internal blog.

In any event, it’s all definitely beyond razzle dazzle.

Finally, the Business Week feature has this succinct advisory for brand changers:

Lessons for blowing up your brand

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One thought on “Transforming corporate identities beyond the razzle dazzle

  1. The Great Yellow Father

    There ought to be some sort of corporate cultural heritage law to prevent companies from tossing away their heritage in return for a few approving looks from some Wall Street analysts.
    Neville Hobson has the scoop on the new Kodak.

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