“One of our core beliefs, certainly as a company, is that we make technology that is life changing and world changing and for the better. We do that not only with our innovative products, but also with the innovative people and programs at the company.”
How has Intel worked to identify ways to be relevant in a rapidly changing category?
Because we're a technology brand, we always have to work to stay relevant and keep innovating our brand as much as we innovate our technology. That’s been our challenge all along: "How do you keep the brand fresh and relevant and on pace with our swiftly moving technology?" Over the last couple of years, we've realized that it's as much about an emotional experience as anything else. We have spent a lot of time defining what that emotional experience from Intel should be.
It wasn't an issue 10 or 15 years ago. You opened up your computer and there was an “Intel Inside” badge on it. It meant that you had the best processor inside. Today, computing is a completely different thing. You're computing on your phone. You're computing on your TV. You’re computing on your tablet. The definition of computing has evolved, which means that the relationship with the brand needs to evolve in order for us to maintain that emotional connection.
At the same time, we need to recognize the shift that’s happened in terms of simple demographics. A large part of our relevance will come with a new generation – today’s 18 to 24 year-olds. 18 to 24 year olds are technology natives. Especially in mature markets where they've always had access to what they needed, whether it was through a phone, a computer or the Internet. There's a natural technology element to their lives.
So for Intel to stay relevant amidst all that change, it’s not just about how well or how quickly we evolve what our brand stands for, it’s about how our brand engages with a whole new set of audiences unlike any we’ve focused on before.
Intel is known for technological innovation. Could you talk a little bit about the role creativity and innovation play within Intel? How do creativity and innovation impact Intel beyond its research and development efforts?
The most obvious example of innovation is the technology inside the chips we build. We make hundreds of millions of those chips a year; more than a million a day, in the most advanced factories in the world. The art and the science of what goes into the factory in order to build the chips are phenomenal.
But creativity and innovation also extend beyond what we make. How we have expanded our markets is a good example. It reflects a scale of creativity that is beyond what people would expect of a company like Intel. We have a program called World Ahead. We work with emerging market governments to lower the price of broadband, so people can afford subscriptions, smartphones and PCs. We work with ministries of education to put technology into classrooms and help teachers learn how to use such technology as part of building out curricula to teach science and math. That all leads to a technology focused workforce coming out of these schools that can purchase our technology and work in our factories -- all while improving the local economy.
One of our core beliefs, certainly as a company, is that we make technology that is life changing and world changing and for the better. We do that not only with our innovative products, but also with the innovative people and programs at the company.
In the last year, there have been a lot of changes in terms of the brand Intel is offering. What do you see as being key to managing a more diverse portfolio?
It really is about discipline. We've been on a journey for the last several years to reclaim our brand and really harness it, because it just started to get too diluted. Our products and services are getting more diverse. That is all the more reason for the masterbrand to continue to be singularly consistent and for all that we do to accrue to the Intel brand. It creates a halo effect – which is good – but we still have a long road ahead of us. We need to consolidate and simplify the way we bring our brand to market.
In order to strengthen the brand, we have to figure out what we want it to do for us. We have a history of our brand working for us in PCs and servers, but what about on cell phones, tablets, etc.? What do we want that to mean to people? It doesn't mean a faster computer when it's on your phone, but it might mean a better computing experience because now your phone has real computing capability. So the more our brand can stand for a higher level promise, which is that we make a better future possible, the better off we’ll be. And as we bring new products and services into the portfolio, they all have to align to that idea.
Technology is often thought of as cold and remote. What has Intel done to either embrace that perception or offer up an alternative perception? Given that brands are inherently emotional, how do you deal with the robotic versus human nature of your category?
We've chosen to fight that or to change that. As I mentioned, technology is an integral part of our lives. So the speeds and feeds that described the technology in the past just aren’t as interesting to the general consumer anymore.
Technology isn’t unique in this sense. When you think about how cars used to be marketed, it was all about engine size and miles per gallon it was all the specs. Look at what sells a car today: its fashion, its lifestyle, its brand association, meaning, "I'm this kind of person versus that kind of person." So when you step back and look at the computing industry in the new context, it becomes clear that we need to become much more emotional.
We did some research two years ago where we asked a basic question: Can people have an emotional connection to performance? We found that it really is about being in the “flow.” It’s about not being interrupted and being able to communicate, create and just be in that moment of absorption. When you are writing a document or you are creating a story or a video, you are not worrying about the tools that you are using. You are just creating. < /p>
That’s the emotional connection to performance Intel can tap into. Increasingly, our marketing has been trying to capture that feeling. There's an emotional experience that you get because you're in the zone and in the flow -- and our technology helps you do that.
What advice would you give to other brand/marketing leaders who are currently wrestling with changing landscapes, audiences and category dynamics? What is the most important thing that they can do?
The one thing that I keep front and center for myself and my team day in and day out is a simple, clear and concise message. I cannot tell you how hard that is. Every day, within our own business, that “keep it simple” mentality is being challenged. There's always a product that has five new features, each of which the product groups want to illuminate. There's always another message. That’s the nature of technology. So, pick the one thing that you want the audience to hear and feel when they think about your brand and get focused on it.
What part of your job gets you the most excited?
Our business is transforming. At some point in the not too distant future, a very significant amount of our revenue will come from things that are not classic PCs, yet have computing capability. That means that the most exciting part of our brand journey is going to center around how we transition our brand. How do we transfer the very strong equity that we've built with our PC business to our new businesses whether it's Intel in a tablet, or Intel in a phone, or Intel in your TV, or Intel in your car?
There’s another challenge, though. I work at a company that's an engineering and manufacturing company. And, yet, we're very, very proud of our brand and it means an incredible amount to us as employees. So much of my effort goes into building out an environment where marketing people can thrive and where they can make a contribution to the bottom line of the company and be recognized.
We did a massive amount of work on our brand simplification a couple years ago and really cleaned up our brands. It had a very big impact (several billion dollars) to our bottom line. That was all marketing and I think there is a lot more that we can contribute as an organization and as a function at Intel. If I can create an organization where great marketing people can do great work, grow and experiment, then I've done my job.