Same Product, Different Stickers

"Well, you’re obviously being totally naive", Said the girl, "When you’ve been in marketing as long as I have, you know that before any new product can be developed it has to be properly researched. We’ve got to find out what people want from fire, how they relate to it, what sort of image it has for them." "Stick it up your nose," he [Ford] said. "Which is precisely the sort of thing we need to know," insisted the girl. "Do people want fire that can be fitted nasally?"  – The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - Douglas AdamsI thought of this passage when several of you mentioned that you had seen the same series of our latest ThinkPad notebooks with different stickers and wanted to know why.  It is probably worth spending a few minutes on the topic.When we became part of Lenovo over two years ago, we negotiated with IBM to allow us to continue to use the IBM logo on our Think products for several years hence.  We thought this important because in the beginning of our transition, many people had no idea of who Lenovo was.  Our brand equity, excepting China, was not great.  Keeping the IBM name on our products allowed us to keep our sales momentum while beginning to build our brand worldwide.  Our partners also needed to know that our service hardware, parts, and help centers were part of the IBM infrastructure.As we continued to build the Lenovo brand, our research showed that there was strength and recognition in our core brands, especially the ThinkPad name.   To help further tie the names ThinkPad and ThinkCentre to Lenovo, we recently embarked on our second stage of product branding – dual branding.  Starting in November of last year, we started adding the Lenovo name to our Think products for the first time.Many of you have noticed that your ThinkPad notebooks have now swapped the familiar eight-bar IBM logo in favor of a ThinkPad series-specific logo.  In this example, the ThinkPad X series includes both ThinkPad and the name of the series.  Our ThinkCentre desktops include IBM, ThinkCentre, and Lenovo on their front bezels. However, not all machines from us are following this convention.   I’ve been asked several times why some people have a ThinkPad from work with one sticker, while the EXACT SAME MACHINE that they bought for home use has the IBM ThinkPad sticker.  They are confused as to why this is the case.Depending on how you as a customer buy your system will determine which logo you will find on your ThinkPad. Your reaction to that last statement is very dependent on where in the world you are located as well as whether you are purchasing on behalf of your company or yourself.  As a general statement, if you are a medium to large customer located in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or Western Europe, you are probably comfortable with the name Lenovo by now.  Our name, who we are, and what we stand for have been fairly well communicated to you.  As a result, your feedback has overwhelmingly been to remove the IBM name from our products in favor of Think branding alongside the Lenovo name.On the other side of the spectrum, small customers, individual customers, and those located in developing areas like Latin America, still have not all heard about Lenovo.  With many of them, the old adage, “no one ever got fired for buying IBM,” still holds to some degree.  These customers have repeatedly told me that the longer we can keep the IBM logo on our products, the better. What is really interesting to me is that there are some areas that want us to promote the Lenovo name as much as possible.  While at a conference recently,  I was speaking with one of our Business Partners from India.  He was very clear that Lenovo is a premium brand with his customers and that our products command a premium price.  He wanted me to request that our brand team make the Lenovo name as big as possible on our notebooks so that his customers could proudly show the world their status.  While I’m not sure that our branding people are ready to put our name in 72 point type on our products, it was great to hear nonetheless.There are exceptions to all of three of these examples, but it does illustrate that our customers’ requirements are varied.   In order to best serve our customer segments, our team decided on this strategy for labeling our products:
  • If you are a customer who buys large enterprise models or our “workhorse” models, your sticker will be the new ThinkPad sticker like is shown in the example above.  Under certain circumstances our largest customers have the option of buying systems with the old logo.
  • If you are buying our systems at retail or through the web, your sticker will continue to be the familiar IBM ThinkPad logo.  You will not have a choice of the logo you receive.
  • All of our ThinkCentre desktops today continue to have both the IBM name as well as the Lenovo name on the front.  Starting later this year, we will start removing the IBM logo from the products.
  • All of our keyboards and mice shipped with our ThinkCentre desktops will feature the Lenovo logo only
  • Our options and accessories will either feature the ThinkPad logo if it is a ThinkPad option or the Lenovo logo if is a Lenovo accessory.
In all cases, there is no change in quality (or anything else for that matter) no matter which badge it may have on the front.  The products are made on the same manufacturing lines by the same people and come loaded with the same software.  The only difference is which sticker gets put on the front.  By early 2008, all of our products will be using the new branding and will not be sold with the IBM name any longer.