When Jeff Zwerner joined Palm recently, he was in familiar company.
The man hired as senior vice president of brand design at Palm is, like three other top executives and a board member of the company, a former employee of Apple. Zwerner has been selected by Palm to shape the company's brand, with responsibility for public relations, marketing, advertising, events, and design.
Zwerner comes to Palm most recently from Factor Design in San Francisco, where, as principal, he consulted on strategic design for companies as varied as Hewlett-Packard, Coca-Cola, Gap, Disney, General Electric, and Apple. But before that, he spent two different stints in Cupertino, spending 1995 to 1996 as a senior art director, and returning from 2001 to 2003 as creative director of packaging.
He joins CEO Jon Rubinstein, former SVP of hardware for Apple; SVP of Product Development Mike Bell, who held the same position at Apple; PR head Lynn Fox, who did the same job at Apple; and former Apple CFO Fred Anderson, who joined Palm's board two years ago.
After a tough couple of years, Palm has been rebuilding its brand around the Palm Pre, a smartphone the company hopes will compete with Apple's iPhone. But the brewing competition has caused some recent sniping back and forth between the two companies. Palm initially advertised the Pre as being integrated with Apple's iTunes software, but Apple released a software update that disabled automatic syncing with the Pre. Palm quickly restored the functionality with a slightly controversial fix, but paving the way for perhaps an even larger squabble down the road.