New Bruised & Battered Brands Poll Finds Industry Slump Severely Hurt Top
High-Tech Brands; Companies Must Regain Trust of Marketplace and Focus on
SILICON VALLEY, Calif. (Dec. 17, 2001) Global technology marketing
executives are acutely aware that their industry's top brands have suffered=
2001, and they're willing to shoulder some of the blame, according to the
results of a new survey study entitled The Bruised and Battered Brands Poll=
The poll results were released today by Liquid Agency, a premier San
Jose-based technology brand marketing firm that fielded the study in
conjunction with The Sausalito Group, a strategic intelligence company, and=
Neale-May & Partners, a strategic marketing and communications company.
The new report captures the opinions of more than 800 leading technology
marketers in 17 countries and provides perspectives on what may be
high-tech's biggest "brand recession" ever. It also reveals the strategies =
brand survival and recovery. Survey respondents ranked both the best and
worst brand performances for technology companies and high-tech CEOs in
2001 and provided the most important brand revitalization strategies and
insights into brand leadership and letdown.
Survey Result Highlights:
* 80 percent of marketing respondents strongly agree that the industry
downturn has hurt technology brands.
* While financial losses and stock price depreciation were major causes for=
brand erosion, industry "hype" comes in a close third, according to
* Getting close to the customer shows up in two of the three top strategies=
for sustaining brand value in the current downturn.
* Public relations was identified as the most effective way to market and
create demand for technology brands in a tight economic climate, followed b=
customer relationship management and brand advertising.
* Bill Gates of Microsoft and Larry Ellison of Oracle showed up in the top =
list of CEOs who best personify their company brands and the top three list=
those who most damaged or compromised their brands in 2001.
* Marketers ranked the top three technology CEOs that best personify their =
brands as 1) Bill Gates, 2) Larry Ellison and 3) Michael Dell.
* They ranked the top three CEOs who most harmed their brands in 2001 as
1) Carly Fiorina, 2) Larry Ellison and 3) Bill Gates.
* The three companies voted as having best maintain brand value in 2001
were Microsoft, IBM and Dell
* The three technology companies voted worst at maintaining brand value
were HP, Compaq and Cisco, and all three decreased in market value over
the same period.
"This year has highlighted more than any other the need among technology
companies to embrace a brand business strategy," said Alfredo Muccino,
Creative Director at Liquid Agency. "The results of the study reflect that =
brands can be compromised by a litany of business problems, and as such
branding needs to become more of a boardroom issue in the strategic
business decision process."
Brand Building and Recovery Strategies
The poll, completed by over 700 technology marketers in the U.S. and abroad=
showed that two of the top three rated strategies for sustaining brands in =
challenging times involved customer relationship building. At the same time=
the respondents found that it's more important than ever to reduce confusio=
about what the brand stands for, build credibility, and speak with a clear,=
consistent voice that communicates real differentiation.
"We believe that due to technology's legacy to engineering and the focus on=
features, technology brands have primarily focused on innovation or
performance as opposed to building relationships based on trust and
confidence," said Muccino. "The fact that many technology marketers are
emphasizing growing and nurturing the relationship with key customers
seems to be a reflection of a growing awareness that brands are built over =
time by taking care of customer's real needs and concerns and by being
consistent with the brand essence and values."
Respondents rated trust as the overwhelming critical element of CEO
branding, followed by market insight and vision and demonstrated leadership=
In terms of representing their corporate brands, some CEOs elicited both
good and bad reactions, suggesting that CEO brand visibility can lead to
strong positive or negative brand swings (or both). For example, Microsoft'=
Bill Gates and Oracle's Larry Ellison clearly are polarizing the industry, =
both executives ranking among the top three CEOs who best personify their
companies' brands and that most compromised their brands in 2001.
On Larry Ellison, one poll taker wrote, "Oracle is much like him brash, l=
and immensely optimistic even in the face of insurmountable odds."
Michael Dell was also ranked among the top three CEOs who best personified =
their brands, but didn't weigh in as an executive who damaged his brand.
One comment described Michael Dell as "the founder with the company name
that is swift, young, persistent, confident, optimistic, and solid." In sho=
is Dell," said another.
Hewlett-Packard's Carly Fiorina, on the other hand, currently embroiled in =
controversy around the company's performance and proposed merger with
Compaq, was ranked number one for having compromised her company's
brand in 2001. One survey response stated: "She has taken a brand that
was growing steadily and cast it into chaos for no good reason, as the de=
while it may be good, was not communicated in a clear and articulate manner=
leading to the current negative perceptions."
Many high-tech CEOs evidently need help to effectively communicate and
embody the brand values of their company. For example, some 43 percent of
respondents indicated that their top executive was not highly effective as =
brand emissary for their company, though over 50 percent believed that thei=
CEO believes in the company brand.
How Companies Fared
Marketing executives' choices for the best and worst high-tech brands of
2001 seemed to have a strong basis in financial performance and industry
Microsoft, IBM and Dell were identified by marketing executives as the thre=
leading technology companies that best maintained brand value during the
Commented one participant: "Microsoft has excellent earnings, beat the
Justice Department rap, delivers new products, and extends market reach.
"IBM has diversified applications, a smart focus on easy in easy out
processes, and a strong team. Dell has good PR."
The three companies most frequently mentioned as doing a poor job of
maintaining brand value, on the other hand, suffered declines in share pric=
Presumably, the recent negative media and sentiments around the
challenged HP/Compaq merger have taken a toll on brand value as well.
One poll taker mentioned, "Is there anyone besides Michael Capellas and
Carly Fiorina that thinks the merger is a good idea?" A second respondent
said, "John Chambers couldn't foresee Cisco revenues would drop off a cliff=
they don't manufacture."
Partners and Report Information
The complete results report of the Bruised & Battered Brands Poll is availa=
The 2001 Bruised and Battered Brands was fielded online from November
19-30, 2001 by The Sausalito Group, a strategic intelligence firm. Cooperat=
partners in the poll include Liquid Agency, Neale-May & Partners, the Ameri=
Marketing Association, InfoWorld, Technology Marketing Magazine, @d:tech
Conference, and GlobalFluency, The Independent Network of Influence.
About Liquid Agency Inc.
Liquid Agency, Inc. is a brand marketing firm providing strategy, design an=
implementation of comprehensive brand marketing programs. Liquid Agency's
services include strategic brand development, brand identity, advertising, =
packaging, Web and interactive services, and all types of marketing
communications collateral. Based in San Jose, Calif., Liquid Agency plans t=
expand its operations to better service clients in San Francisco, New York =
Chicago. Current client engagements include projects for Adobe, Intel, Luce=
and Seagate. Additionally, Liquid Agency is working on projects for the San=
Jose Downtown Business Association, The Redevelopment Office for the City
of San Jose, and Federal Realty Investment Trust (Santana Row).
About The Sausalito Group
The Sausalito Group is a leader in providing senior management with rapid
strategic intelligence to help them make faster, more effective decisions. =
Sausalito Groups enterprise-wide programs simultaneously yield deeper,
more immediate insights into the motivations, needs and wants of customers,=
employees and prospects. The Sausalito Group's proprietary,on-line
technology combines both qualitative and quantitative methodologies that
help increase satisfaction, build customer loyalty and create a sustainable=
competitive advantage. Its instruments have been deployed in more than 27
countries worldwide and currently serve some of the world's leading
companies, including NEC, J.P.Morgan Chase, United Airlines, Philips, E*TRA=
Group and Palm, Inc.
About Neale-May & Partners
Neale-May & Partners is a leading strategic marketing and communications
company focused on shaping perceptions in the global technology market.
The $15 million firm helps technology-driven clients create brand equity an=
market value through inventive go-to-market programs and public relations
campaigns. Neale-May represents clients ranging from startups to Fortune
500 companies from its Silicon Valley, San Francisco, and New York City
offices. Neale-May & Partners has been ranked as one of Silicon Valley's to=
three technology PR firms and ranked among the top 10 independent PR firms =
nation wide. For additional information, visit www.nealemay.com or call (65=