From Ordinary to Extraordinary
IBM’s Consumer Division sold excellent PC options and accessories through consumer retail stores. However, despite having great products and a powerful brand name, IBM Options were getting outsold by competition.
A major reason was that IBM put most of their effort into engineering a great product and little effort into making it appeal to consumers. All the products came in “plain vanilla” boxes and had very generic names such as “IBM 2-Button Mouse” and “IBM Standard 104-Key Keyboard”.
IBM asked Rick Thompson to lead the IBM Consumer Options team and transform it into a consumer driven operation. Rick reapplied the consumer marketing skills he honed during his time at P&G and running the Tide Detergent business. Rick immediately infused innovation into all the products, renamed every product so each one had a unique, benefit-oriented name, and completely redesigned all the packaging to have dynamic shelf impact. The business result was immediate as IBM gained significant shelf space and advertising support from retailers all of which helped sales grew 5-fold within 12 months.
Scope of Work
Market Research – consumer research and concept development work led to the identification of key unmet consumer needs. These learnings fed the product innovation process and product positioning.
Product Innovation – Based on market research, each product focused on a relevant, unique, and benefit-oriented innovation. For example, the old plain vanilla “2 Button Mouse” added the “TrackPoint” technology from the IBM ThinkPad to give it 360 degree scrolling. This new product became the innovative “IBM ScrollPoint Mouse”. The plain vanilla “IBM 104-Key Keyboard” became the innovative “IBM Rapid Access Keyboard” by adding one-touch launching of your favorite applications. The plain vanilla “IBM Scanner” became the innovative “IBM Idea Scan” by adding innovative software to create hundreds of fun crafts and projects.
Brand Naming – A brand naming architecture was developed to create a set of relevant, clear and consistent naming conventions across the entire product line. All products names started off with the IBM Master Brand name, "IBM" and then had a 2-word benefit-oriented descriptor that followed. Examples include:
- IBM ScrollPoint Mouse
- IBM RapidAccess Keyboard
- IBM IdeaScan Scanner
Package Design – Great attention was put into creating powerful, engaging “Shelf-evident” packaging that would make the product have STOPPING POWER on the store shelf. The package design borrowed the strategic brand equity from the IBM master brand which has 8 horizontal bars in the logo. The eight-bar horizontal design was used to create a rich black and blue background pattern. The product names used a white and red naming convention to create strong impact. The package design also focused attention on the key differentiation feature of the product, for example the “ScrollPoint” on the mouse.