Intel’s always been a bit of a brand machine — remember the “Intel Inside” stickers? — and on Tuesday it upheld that tradition. In a pivot from the sort of stodgy “Sponsors of Tomorrow” slogan, the company is going with the hacker-friendly “Look Inside.” How much can a new slogan really matter though? A lot, if history is any guide.
Intel’s actually been teasing Look Inside for sometime, though this week was the official launch. And in a more unofficial way, it’s meant to take the company back to its roots. (“Look Inside.” What’s inside? “Intel Inside.” Get it?). Time will tell whether it’ll pay off, and there’s every reason to think it could go either way.
Companies come up with slogans as punchlines to the long story of the brand they’re trying to build. In the past few decades there have been some smash hits, and there have been some brutal boondoggles that didn’t just fail to boost a brand but actually hurt it. Here are a few of the biggest impact tech slogans of recent year, and why they made a difference.
Apple: “Think Different”
OK. Trite as it may be to say this, this very Steve Jobsian slogan came to define what was once a small computer company in Cupertino, California. It was that “Think Different” approach that embodied everything about Apple. There’s been debate about its grammatical correctness, but there’s little doubt that the phrase has stuck in the heads of Apple users and newbies ever since Jobs first deployed it at the October Seybold Seminars San Francisco 1997. At that same event, it was the Think Different campaign that gave us The Crazy Ones, above
Google: “Don’t Be Evil”
Sergey Brin and Larry Page were so filled with hope in the beginning. So optimistic. So idealistic. So… opportunistic? Sure, that too. Because despite its early scrappy startup roots, Google is now a giant corporation that often can’t live up to the standards it sets for itself. From violating people’s privacy with their car-mounted Street View cameras and Wi-Fi units to sometimes exploiting user data for its own profiteering needs, the search giant has been misbehaving so much lately that it’s in seemingly perpetual trouble with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and is facing privacy-related investigations around the world. Sure, lots of the products are free. But even free things have a price.
Oracle: “Can’t Break It, Can’t Break In” aka “Unbreakable”
You probably haven’t heard Oracle’s slogan, since as an enterprise company, it often flies beneath the radar. Regardless of who your customer base is though, if you’re going to make a big declaration in your slogan, you’d better be damn sure you can stand behind it. Oracle once decided to showcase its cybersecurity in the “Can’t Break It, Can’t Break In” campaign. It was “Unbreakable” for short. And guess what happened? Somebody broke in. In fact, researchers say that it’s actually pretty easy to hack into Oracle.
Facebook: CHAIRS ARE LIKE FACEBOOK*
This only half-counts as a slogan since it didn’t survive long enough to make it into the mainstream marketing venues like magazines and stuff. Meant to mark the momentous occasion of the social network hitting a billion users joyously, the video had the opposite effect. People panned it. Bloggers banned it. And before the 90-second spot even hit television, Facebook cancelled the campaign. (With good reason too. Just watch the damned thing.) The backlash was supposed to be a moment of triumph for Facebook, but it served as yet another reminder that the social network struggles with an identity crisis, one that alienates users. Facebook is a chair? There’s a metaphor in there, I guess. Really it just feels like Mark Zuckerberg and friends are trying to shove something down its user’s throats, something they don’t want or like. See also: privacy settings.
* Emphasis Facebook’s
Airbus: “Setting the Standards”
This almost feels like a low blow, but that’s why it matters. Since 1967, Airbus has operated under the mantra “Setting the Standards”. You’ll see the logo spattered across its marketing materials and website. It’s a nice thought, especially for a company that builds giant metal flying machines. “Setting the Standards” induces a feeling of safety and security. At the very least, you’d want that company to hold itself up to standards. Oops, AirBus. That giant A380 that you built didn’t quite hold up to the standards. The fleet had cracks in their wings. (Note to non-aviation experts: Wings are pretty much the most important parts of the plane.)
John Lennon-heavy as it may be, Samsung’s new slogan is pretty awesome. From one perspective, it simply means, “Imagine the amazing things we can build.” That’s a pretty strong message for a company that already makes everything from refrigerators to smartphones to TVs. What else can they do? Time will tell, but in the meantime, looking at the slogan from another point of view invites comparisons to Apple, specifically how Samsung has been relatively kicking arse lately. That might even be an understatement. So if Apple’s classic message was “Think Different,” Samsung looks like it wants to one-up Cupterino even in terms of branding. After all, “Imagine” is a much more intriguing verb than “Think”, isn’t it?
Pictures: Facebook, XVALA, Airbus