3Com (Nasdaq: COMS) produced as many numbers as you could hope for yesterday:
- Nine press releases
- Five partnerships/alliances
- Three product lines discarded
- Financial projections for the current quarter
- General guidelines for the coming fiscal year
- Target metrics for the year after that
- One hundred twelve minutes talking to analysts
- One acquisition
The network equipment vendor's news cluster bomb fragmented into plenty of headlines on Monday. But lost in the wash of finances and deals was the one "clean" item in the whole thing:
A new logo.
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Discarding the past includes jettisoning the symbol associated with it. So after talking to 39 focus groups across nine geographies in three customer segments (just can't get away from these numbers), 3Com went with a new theme.
"We needed to establish that and crystallize it into a single brand position," 3Com President Bruce Claflin said during yesterday's analyst meeting. "This is the brand platform around which we will define the company: 3Com is in the business of simplifying lives by making it easy for our customers to access the information and services they need. This is all about information and services, not the underlying technology that enables it. It's about making it easy and simple.
"And now, having established this position, we must ensure that every time we touch a customer, we reinforce this brand identity."
Meet the new 3Com:
"This logo is more modern, clean, and yes, simple in its design," Claflin declared. "The three rings are intended to complement the name of the company and make our logo more distinctive, and they symbolize the universal connectivity of networking."
Modern, clean and simple. Distinctive. Universal.
Maybe not, since New Coke supposedly won in blind taste tests against the old stuff, convincing Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) to make the ill-fated switch in the first place. But who would say the new 3Com logo beats the old one?
Everyone, according to 3Com.
"What we found was universal appeal," says Jan Soderstrom, 3Com's senior vice-president of marketing. "Among IT professionals ... it was very good symbology."
Look at that logo again:
I guess I'm in the minority, but "bland, thin and reedy" was the first thing that popped into my mind. Devoid of any strength. About as milquetoast as a company can get. The rings are an interesting touch, although you could argue they actually disturb the simplicity of the design.
But what do I know? I like the traditional 3Com logo:
Bold. Solid. Economical. And looks like it can squash the new symbol without breaking a sweat.
That's not the point, as far as 3Com is concerned. Says Soderstrom:
"The old logo was seen as somewhat dated and grounded in the past, as opposed to light and looking at the future. ... We purposely wanted the new logo to be light, because we're moving away from big boxes."
She describes the old 3Com symbol as "clunky-looking," but I'd say it represents a strong, familiar brand -- something cited as a positive by consumer and small business focus groups, and described as "most encouraging" by Claflin during yesterday's analyst meeting.
Other technology companies -- Apple Computer (Nasdaq: AAPL) and IBM (NYSE: IBM) come to mind -- reinvented themselves but mostly left their symbols alone to reassure customers that the good parts aren't going away.
Perhaps 3Com expects more from its logo than Big Blue does.
"We will use the new logo in clean, exciting ways, featuring real people, the beneficiaries of networking technology, as opposed to the technology itself," Claflin said. "As you can see, the possibilities to use this new logo are endless.
"And it looks quite good. It holds up well when coupled with the powerful logos of our partners."
If you say so.
The new logo won't be formally rolled out until June, when 3Com's fiscal year ends.
"We are introducing this new logo today and will begin to actively promote it starting in the middle of the year, through innovative PR, advertising and promotional activities," Claflin said.
"Let me turn now to the financial side of our business..."
Hmm? Oh yeah, that numbers stuff. 22GO>