At a virtual launch event this week, Intel presented its 11th Gen Intel Core, code-named Tiger Lake and the new EVO platform brand for laptops running on Tiger Lake with Intel Iris X graphics and that meet the second-edition specification and key experience indicators of Project Athena.
Intel also used this moment to launch a new brand identity that is fit for the next era of computing they presented, but more importantly, one that reflects who Intel wants to be as a company. Intel’s Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Karen Walker, said during the launch: “Our new look represents our role as a catalyst for technology that moves the world forward. We want our new brand to serve as an indicator to our customers and partners that they can count on Intel to deliver leadership and drive the industry forward.”
Intel is not leaving its past behind, though. The inspiration for the new look and feel, as well as the campaign tagline, come from something the Intel co-founder, Robert Noyce, once said: “Don’t be encumbered by history. Go off and do something wonderful.” A mantra that Walker said it has inspired generations of employees.
I am sure Walker and her team might have wrestled with the idea of rebranding at this point in time. Still, I would argue this is precisely the right time not only to be more aspirational but also, and more importantly so, to have the brand reflect the goals the company has set for itself to make a difference. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying a new logo and color pattern is all that is needed to show you want to make a positive impact. What I do think matters is to align the goals CEO Bob Swan set out at the start of 2030 around sustainability, diversity and inclusion and empowering people to the way Intel wants to be seen by customers and partners alike.
I am no brand expert, but I look at the new logo and I see a fresher, cleaner, more minimalistic design that retains some of the element of the past but offers more flexibility with a secondary color for the “i” and the dot to be added to the classic blue. There is also a broader color pallet that will allow for more regional as well as product customization.
This is only the third time that Intel changed its logo. The last time was in 2006 when Intel added the clipped circle. The time before that was 1969 when Intel dropped the e below the rest of the letters in the name. I was comparing the new logo with the previous one and I particularly like that the company dropped the clipped circle because I have always viewed that as highlighting Intel and, to some extent, almost protecting Intel. The new logo is simple and understated. It conveys confidence rather than arrogance. The flexibility that the new color palette and design offers better fits a portfolio that is considerably broader than it was in 2006.
The Intel five notes jingle, or “bong,” which, in my mind, is only second to the Nokia one, will be retained but modernized and we will be able to discover just how so in a few months.
More than Technology
Both during the digital event and in a blog post, Intel’s CMO highlighted how the new branding is not going to be reflected only in the technology the company will bring to market. The branding is a window into the impact the company will have on the world and how Intel will celebrate its employees and the broader ecosystem.
One of the brand videos said: “Protect the planet, make technology accessible to all and enrich the lives of every person on earth. Because the truth is that if you have an idea and Intel inside, you have everything you need to go off and do something wonderful.” Another nod to classic Intel branding “Intel inside,” but done in such a way that elevates the brand to be an enabler of someone else’s genius. This benefits the ecosystem of both partners and customers and also reflects a change in Intel’s philosophy we have seen over the past couple of years. Partly due to its own limitations, Intel has come to finally embrace the idea that to be successful it does not have to do it alone, but can and should lean into its ecosystem.
In an interview, Walker shared the concern that the brand was at risk of losing relevancy and I must agree with her. Intel has undergone quite a dramatic change since Bob Swan took the lead of the company, even before he was officially nominated CEO. Unless you have been working with Intel, however, you have only caught a few glimpses of such a change in attitude and direction. Some of the most notable ones to me are a leadership that engages in meaningful conversations like equity, a strong sustainability push and a commitment to making its leadership more diverse.
The rebranding much more accurately matches the kind of company Intel is becoming and the company it wants to be. A more open organization that makes itself accountable to its employees, its customers and the community by understanding the responsibility that comes from being the 12th most valuable brand in the world. Covid-19 and the social unrest in the U.S., have highlighted these to be necessary traits for a company not just to be relevant but for a company to be deemed a leader by its partners, customers and the talent it wants to acquire and retain.
Disclosure: The Heart of Tech is a research and consultancy firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this column. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this column.