Kevin Sellers joined Avnet Inc. as chief marketing officer about 18 months ago after a 23-year stint at Intel Corp., one of the electronics industry’s most successful companies from a revenue and branding perspective. It’s no wonder therefore that some of Sellers’ experience at Intel would rub off on Avnet which today launched a global branding campaign with the tagline Reach Further.
Avnet’s newly introduced 2-word corporate tagline recalls Intel’s widely successful “Intel Inside” campaign, which the chipmaker famously used to convince generations of consumers that its microprocessors were synonymous with quality and extraordinary performance.
Phoenix-based Avnet seems to have a similar goal in mind. The company wants to persuade suppliers, customers and the growing band of irreverent techno-tinkerers in the Maker Culture that it is the company they should think about when they germinate product ideas. Why? Because Avnet has assembled all the resources they would need to move from ideas to product prototype and from there to full volume production. In other words, Avnet isn’t any longer a mere component distributor but a creator and facilitator of the design to production ecosystem.
“We have the ecosystem and the service center to take someone from idea to products and then from product to market,” Sellers said in an interview. “This value proposition is critical.”
So is communicating it, a task even Sellers would agree Avnet hasn’t been great at completing, hence his recruitment and the launch of the new global brand campaign. Avnet specifically created the role of VP of corporate marketing and communications when Sellers joined the company to lead its brand development campaign because it had dawned on the leadership that it needed to undertake a brand assessment and repositioning.
If they only knew how badly Avnet needed a brand do-over. The company is one of the biggest in its sector, accounting for a substantial chunk of the distribution total available market and widely recognized by competitors, suppliers and hundreds of thousands of customers. That was the good news Sellers quickly found out when he joined Avnet. The bad news was that Avnet’s economy sector was changing rapidly and – in a market ushering in a new generation of designers – the Avnet name was hardly a symbol of innovation.
Research conducted by Avnet showed it was not recognized for or associated with the leading position it had in its market segment. The company has many business units and the multiple, often differing messages from these operations created a lack of synergy and agreement about its real identity. The market leader didn’t have a message that resonated with its audiences. In fact, the company’s core value propositions were not what focus groups associated with the enterprise. Even worse was the finding that the level of brand awareness of the company among the new generation of designers in the Maker community was low
“We learned that what people saw when they looked at our visual identity was not very inspiring and didn’t communicate the behavior and tools that we know exist at Avnet,” Sellers said. “They do not see that we have leadership positions and that we are good at collaborating with customers. That led us to decide that we needed to develop our brand identity and use the identity to demonstrate who we are.”
Avnet launched the new global brand identity campaign today. It unveiled a new logo, tagline and redesigned website as well as a concerted effort to relay a consistent message across all its products. Henceforth, customers, suppliers and investors will hear the same message about the company’s operations and value proposition, according to Avnet executives.
“The biggest change that you are going to see is a consistency about message and focus around how we present ourselves,” Sellers said. “You are not going to see disparate and completely different messages, looks and feels. It will be very consistent, global and more emotional, more storytelling and more engaging for our customers.”
EPSNews interviewed Sellers ahead of the launch of the campaign. Here are excerpts from the discussion:
EPSNews: What are the goals of the rebranding?
Sellers: We are aiming for 3 things: Repositioning Avnet and highlighting value proposition; building and strengthening brand awareness, particularly amongst the emerging class of customers around Internet of Things, Makers and so forth and; the third goal would be to ultimately lead to increasing revenue and growth.
EPSNews: What are the strengths that you see in Avnet which make you believe your objectives are realizable?
Sellers: First, our value proposition is now unique. We have the ecosystem and the service center to take someone from idea to products and then from product to market. The second is the culture at and the ethos of who Avnet is. When you compare Avnet to competitors we consistently score better on the people side of things, the relationships, the collaboration, the partnering and so on. The brand campaign is meant to mesh those two things together: Reposition the company and demonstrate the uniqueness of how we collaborate with partners.
EPSNews: What are the specific elements of the branding campaign? In other words, what will your suppliers and customers see that would be different about Avnet and its products henceforth?
Sellers: The evolution of this thing was the desire to rebuild the brand. We did some research to understand what we mean to our customers and the things that can be branded. We wanted to know how our brand is seen, the consistent behavior that we demonstrate in the market and the things that differentiate us. It was about discovering the soul of the company upon which you would build the brand because the most important rule in branding is authenticity.
We also decided to look at the visual identity of Avnet; What does a customer see when they engage with? Do they see the value that we bring and the behavior we have? We learned that what people saw when they look at our visual identity was not very inspiring and certainly not things that communicate the behavior and tools that we know exist at Avnet. They do not see that we have leadership positions and are good at collaborating with customers.
That led us to decide that we needed to develop a new brand identity, which is not just about the logo but also the color, font and everything that we believe is critical to how we present ourselves. We need to present ourselves as built on growth and collaboration. That’s why we chose green as our color because it communicates an important message of Avnet. The logo is built on the idea of collaboration.
EPSNews: What will be different about what suppliers and customers see?
Sellers: The most important thing they are going to see is our new website. We’ve consolidated dozens of sites into one global website completely redesigned with all the functionalities to make it easy for people to engage with us for content or shop for products.
EPSNews: Are there any differences in in how customers engage with you?
Sellers: In addition to the traditional things that you will see on the website we’ve invested heavily in our digital transformation. We are looking at Makers and IoT companies today. The old Avnet was all about people-to-people transactions and that will continue. At the same time, we must become low-cost and minimal-touch. Much of our emphasis will be on the tools we provide, like search and ecommerce.