When Lenovo bought the IBM personal computer division, few consumers in the U.S. had ever heard of the Chinese electronics maker. A decade later, Lenovo is a well-recognized brand, but one with a shifting business model. And in the post-PC era, it's ready for a facelift.
Lenovo today launches a new logo that can be dynamically changed -- but only by its agencies and agreed-upon partners. The modernized moniker created by Saatchi, New York, has a lounging "e" and is outlined by a box that's meant to be used digitally. Creatives around the world will be able to change the box background to use a relevant scene, color or photograph, for example. The company will introduce the new look at its first Lenovo Tech World global conference in Beijing today.
"When we first started looking at it, it wasn't about just a change in typography or the look of the logo," said Lenovo Chief Marketing Officer David Roman. "We asked 'If we really are a net-driven, customer-centric company, what should the logo look like?' We came up with the idea of a digital logo first … designed to be used on the internet and adaptable to context."
The logo update is symbolic of Lenovo's ongoing transformation. The company recently acquired IBM's server division and another well-known U.S. brand in Motorola's mobile division. While Lenovo has pushed along the IBM ThinkPad (now the Lenovo ThinkPad), it also developed its own innovations and brands, including IdeaPad tablets and Yoga convertibles. In smartphones, Lenovo uses its own brand along with the Motorola brand in the U.S. and globally; at Tech World, it will roll out the customizable Moto X brand in China.
Lenovo now depends less and less on revenue from its PC division, even thought that part of its business is still growing. Its fiscal fourth quarter ended in March showed that 63% of total revenue came from PC sales versus 83% during the same period the previous year.
Sales of PCs for the fourth quarter were $7.2 billion, up 11% year over year, and total annual revenue for the PC division was $33.4 billion, an increase of 5%. Lenovo's mobile sales of smartphones and tablets, aided by its Motorola acquisition and two quarters of additive sales (the company was acquired in October 2014), jumped 71% year over year to $9.1 billion, and represented 20% of total company sales.
Lenovo ranked as the No. 3 smartphone vendor in the most recent quarter (the first quarter of 2015), with a 5.6% market share, and No. 3 in tablets with a 5.3% share. Notably, Lenovo was the only tablet maker in the top four that noted year-over-year growth (23%), according to IDC.
Lenovo is still the No. 1 PC brand worldwide, according to IDC, with a 19.2% market share at the end of 2014, representing growth of 10.1% year over year. It is the No. 4 seller in the U.S., behind HP, Dell and Apple, with a 10.7% share, according to IDC.
There will be no branding campaign around the new logo; it will be rolled out as an organic change under the brand idea "Never Stand Still." As part of the "Never Stand Still" initiative, Lenovo used creative-industry crowdsourcer Tongal to post a brief seeking five different takes on original branded screenplays to become films. It also recently began a #IHackedLife campaign soliciting lifehacks and will show some of the best ideas at Tech World.
Lenovo uses Instagram photographers to post their own takes on brand ideas or directives, and works with YouTubers such as comedy video producer Ryan Higa in an effort it will expand this year with "celebrity" endorsements. DLKW Lowe continues as Lenovo's agency and "brand steward" as well as oversees other efforts, Mr. Roman said.
"I'm not quite sure how it will develop," he said. "We want to change the process radically of how we do marketing. One of the challenges with today is you don't have as much control. … We'll have a lot of flexibility. I think as marketing people we're getting used to all of that."