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Intel rebrands outside the box

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In a move designed to expand its market presence beyond silicon chips for the PC, Intel Corp. this month launched a corporate rebranding effort that will do away with the well-known "Intel Inside" logo it has used since 1991.

The rebranding strategy, featuring the tagline "Leap ahead," signals Intel's intent to move more aggressively into platforms encompassing mobile, digital home, enterprise and health.

In defining platforms, Intel is including software, content and communications services-not just silicon. Specific products include PCs, cell phones, handheld devices and home entertainment products.

"`Intel Inside' was fairly confining and anchored us to the PC," said Kevin Sellers, director-corporate brand and strategic marketing at Intel. "We wanted to demonstrate that we were undergoing a significant transformation as a company."

Intel has been expanding its branding over the past few years, including introducing the Centrino mobile technology brand in 2003 and Viiv, a new brand for digital home entertainment, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Jan. 3.

The Centrino brand includes microprocessors, chip sets, communications chips and software for wireless PCs and other mobile devices.

The Viiv platform, to be rolled out early this year, will include a microprocessor, chip sets and communications technology that will allow users to play games, download music and other content, share photos and manage digital libraries at home.

Last year, Intel reorganized around a platform model, creating new business units for mobile products, digital enterprise, digital home, digital health and channel products.

It also hired a new ad agency, McCann-Erickson Worldwide, to help communicate its new brand positioning. Intel's previous agency was Euro RSCG.

"Clearly, Intel's branding strategy encompasses both consumer and enterprise brands," said Ted Schadler, an analyst at Forrester Research. "Centrino is the best defined brand, and Viiv is a consumer entertainment brand. The new platforms for the enterprise are a little less well defined."

In a report about the Intel rebranding effort, Schadler wrote about one of the risks involved in branching out into new platforms: "Intel may not be able to make every chip in a bundle best-of-breed, and manufacturers that want only chips might look to alternative chip suppliers such as Advanced Micro Devices and NVIDIA."

Schadler said another risk is that manufacturers looking to differentiate their brands might assemble their own platforms rather than adopt the Centrino or Viiv brands.

To meet these challenges and have a better chance of growing these markets, Intel must be extremely flexible in determining which of its brand elements its customers' projects require, Schadler said.

As part of the rebranding strategy, Intel has redesigned its logo, getting rid of the dropped "e," and will replace the famous "Intel Inside" brand logo that appears on computer equipment with individual brand logos. Intel will continue to work with OEMs to co-market the Intel brand, Sellers said.

By midyear, Intel plans to announce an enterprise platform for desktop clients.

"It will be a platform brand to bring better security, better manageability and better client experience to enterprise users," Sellers said. The product does not yet have a name, he said.

Intel trumpeted its rebranding effort with a series of print ads running in The Economist, the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal. It also announced content deals with more than 40 partners to deliver content to the Viiv platform.

Sellers said Intel will work with standards bodies to define computing and communications standards and infrastructures for platforms including enterprise, mobile and digital home.

Also giving a boost to the Intel brand, Apple rolled out new products running on Intel chips at its Macworld Expo conference last week.

Apple introduced its new iMac and the MacBook Pro portable computer, both running on Intel's Core Duo processor.

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