Lenovo – from Pretty Terrible to Getting Close

LenovoI was checking out Lenovo a few years ago when looking for examples of really bad messaging. It was not long after it had acquired IBM’s PC division, and it was very much a Chinese company that had a long way to go in regards to its marketing message. It had a long way to go in regards to brand credibility as well, but I think they’ve done a good job. In a short time, it’s become a household name and a Chinese brand that is becoming more common and respected around the globe. Not an easy job.

When I was first checking out Lenovo post-merger, I remember the early messaging was terrible – in fact it was almost submissive. It was all over the place and not at all focused on the core strengths of the new company. But it’s important to remember that Lenovo was a dominant player in the Chinese market back then and all of a sudden a dominant player on the world stage, so it’s fair enough it wasn’t quite there with its messaging back in 2003. This stuff takes time and skill to get right.

At that time Lenovo was suffering from what a lot of companies in Asia Pacific suffer from – an inferiority complex. I think we are definitely seeing movement away from that as Asian companies are gaining more credibility, experience and success around the world, but it’s not there yet. It will happen though.

Lenovo has definitely come ahead in leaps and bounds and are no longer on my list of bad messaging examples they’ll be pleased to know 🙂

Their tagline (I presume) is “New World. New Thinking™.” I like that. Simple and elegant.

The strap line is good – “Lenovo is a new world company that makes the world’s most innovative PCs.” I like it because it’s a global message but reflective of its Asian roots and its core product offering – a lot of companies forget to focus on the basics, i.e. what they do.

As an aside, I think it’s interesting that Asian’s are perceived as “new world” these days, considering the oldest civilisations are actually Asian. Heck the Chinese invented writing after all, or was it the Sumerians?

My criticism of Lenovo from a messaging point of view these days are few, but they still have work to do. For example, the vision is way too long. A vision statement should be short, succinct and inspiring. It should be noble – something everyone aims for. It should be the driving force for everyone working in a company.

This is the vision Lenovo has on its Website:

Our Vision

At Lenovo, our vision is that Lenovo will create personal devices more people are inspired to own, a culture more people aspire to join and an enduring, trusted business that is well respected around the world. This vision guides us in pursuit of our mission to become one of the world’s great personal technology companies. We will accomplish this through:

  • Personal Computers: Lead in PCs and be respected for our product innovation and quality.
  • Convergence: Lead the industry with an ecosystem of devices, services, applications and content for people to seamlessly connect to people and web content.
  • Culture: Become recognized as one of the best, most trusted and most well-respected companies to work for and do business with.

This isn’t great. All of the right messages are there; it just needs to be massaged into shorter punchier statements. The Lenovo marketing team also need to look at the Website. If you click through to the company information, you’ll see it’s a bit of a mess.

Messaging can be challenging, especially when done internally. Sometimes executives just can’t see the wood for the trees when doing their corporate messaging and that’s where they need to bring in an outsider to help clear up the “excess.” Lenovo is definitely still suffering from what I like to call “messaging excess.” They know what they want to say, they’re just not quite saying it clearly enough.

Andrea Edwards

Managing Director

SAJE Pte Ltd

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