Marketing to the Masses

Intel got it wrong… it’s not just what’s inside that counts.

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Image: gerasimov_foto_174 / Shutterstock.com

Intel is one of the largest corporations in the world, and a leading manufacturer of computer microprocessor chips. The company was founded in the 1960s. Most of its growth was tied to the explosion of the PC industry that began in the 1980s and its fortuitous position as the exclusive chip supplier to IBM.

However, at that time, only tech geeks really knew about Intel, or for that matter cared much about the brand of chip that powered their PC.

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That changed in the early 1990s when the company embarked upon an ambitious marketing campaign that informed consumers there was “Intel Inside” some brands of computers. And like many branding campaigns, it didn’t matter so much to the company if consumers understood why Intel was better, it was simply important that they believed it was better.

The entire campaign kept repeating the same message, which implied: “If you’re buying a personal computer, make sure it has Intel inside.”

Early marketing tests proved the concept correct. In the first test store, computers labeled with “Intel Inside” stickers on computer boxes saw a significant increase in sales, virtually overnight.

Buoyed by these results, the company rolled out a worldwide co-op advertising campaign, which to the annoyance of many consumers, featured the company’s five-note jingle each time the name “Intel” was mentioned. The campaign was such a success that by the end of the decade, consumers became highly aware of the brand of chips that powered personal computers, and Intel’s Pentium processors had become a household name.

A success story by any measure.

Not quite.

While Intel spent hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising each year, and it had the desired effect of establishing Intel as a well-known brand name, The PC transitioned from being a technical marvel to a commodity over the course of the decade. Hundreds of manufacturers created their own brands of personal computers, and essentially there was little difference between these companies and products. With one exception: Apple.

The Apple computer never became a commodity because it not only cared what was on the inside (parts, operating system, etc.), but it also cared about what was on the outside… it’s brand.

And Apple expressed its brand in every touchpoint, including ads, marketing materials, and packaging.

While the world of PCs was going generic and opening the box of a new Hewlett-Packard (HP) computer was little different than opening a Compaq or Dell or anything else, it was a quite different experience with anything Apple.

Apple knew the strength of its products was not only based on its innovation, but also on its brand appeal. The fact is, no other computer manufacture has put so much effort into creating a brand and ensuring that its user experience is not defined merely by semiconductors and processing chip speed, but by emotions.

And much of Apple’s brand appeal is expressed through its packaging. It just feels good to open an Apple product. It is elegant, yet not stuffy. It is beautiful, but approachable. It is classy, and to put it simply, it makes the consumer feel good.

And that, my friends, is the very definition of a perfect brand… it makes consumers feel good.

So, no matter how much Intel says it’s what is inside that computer that counts, Apple continues to show the world that what is on the outside matters equally, if not more so.

There is a lesson in this for cannabis brands: It goes without saying that your products must be wonderful. But to truly capture a consumer’s heart, it is vital to invest in an exceptional brand, which is expressed through your marketing materials, your website, and every consumer touchpoint… including, and especially, through your packaging.


Kary Radestock

Kary Radestock brings more than 20 years of award-winning print and packaging expertise to some of the top brands in the world. She launched Hippo Premium Packaging in order to fill a need for professional, compliant packaging, brand development, and graphic design to the emerging cannabis industry.

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