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NEW SURVEY REVEALS REASONS, RECOVERY STRATEGIES, AND RANKINGS IN TOUGH YEAR FOR

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  • NatashaF
    New Bruised & Battered Brands Poll Finds Industry Slump Severely Hurt Top High-Tech Brands; Companies Must Regain Trust of Marketplace and Focus on Customers
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 18, 2001
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      New Bruised & Battered Brands Poll Finds Industry Slump Severely Hurt Top
      High-Tech Brands; Companies Must Regain Trust of Marketplace and Focus on
      Customers

      SILICON VALLEY, Calif. (Dec. 17, 2001) – Global technology marketing
      executives are acutely aware that their industry's top brands have suffered=
      in
      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=

      2001.

      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 =
      for
      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
      respondents.
      * 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=
      y
      customer relationship management and brand advertising.
      * Bill Gates of Microsoft and Larry Ellison of Oracle showed up in the top =
      three
      list of CEOs who best personify their company brands and the top three list=
      of
      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=
      n
      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."


      CEO Ratings
      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'=
      s
      Bill Gates and Oracle's Larry Ellison clearly are polarizing the industry, =
      with
      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=
      oud,
      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=
      rt "He
      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=
      al,
      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 =
      a
      brand emissary for their company, though over 50 percent believed that thei=
      r
      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
      hype.

      Microsoft, IBM and Dell were identified by marketing executives as the thre=
      e
      leading technology companies that best maintained brand value during the
      past year.

      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=
      e.
      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=
      ble
      at www.liquidagency.com.
      The 2001 Bruised and Battered Brands was fielded online from November
      19-30, 2001 by The Sausalito Group, a strategic intelligence firm. Cooperat=
      ing
      partners in the poll include Liquid Agency, Neale-May & Partners, the Ameri=
      can
      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=
      d
      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=
      o
      expand its operations to better service clients in San Francisco, New York =
      and
      Chicago. Current client engagements include projects for Adobe, Intel, Luce=
      nt,
      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. =
      The
      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=
      DE
      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=
      d
      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=
      p
      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=
      0)
      328-5555 x110.
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