October 5, 2006 11:47 AM PDT

Cisco spends millions on becoming household name

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Cisco Systems, the largest maker of Internet networking equipment in the world, kicked off a $100 million campaign on Thursday to make its brand a household name.

Unlike Microsoft, Apple Computer or Intel, the San Jose, Calif.-based company is only remotely known by most people--despite generating $28.5 billion in revenue last year and making most of the equipment used to shuttle traffic around the Internet.

"We're trying to increase general awareness in the company," said Sue Bostrom, Cisco's chief marketing officer. "When we tested audiences, we found that our familiarity is lower than our technology peers."

Cisco's new logo
Credit: Cisco Systems
Cisco's new logo.

The campaign, which includes a revamped logo for the networking giant, will run in magazines and newspapers, and on television, Web sites and mobile phones. However, it does not emphasize Cisco's product line, per se. Instead, it focuses on the company's role in connecting people together through what it calls the "Human Network."

The ad campaign is different from previous Cisco campaigns because it doesn't just target the corporate decision makers who actually buy the company's products. Those people already know Cisco. Instead, it is trying to drive awareness among the masses, even though they aren't the ones who hand over money for its goods. (Cisco has a separate brand, Linksys, that sells products through retail stores directly to consumers.)

Bostrom argues that more of Cisco's corporate products--such as voice over Internet Protocol phones, Wi-Fi handsets and unified communications software--are finding their way into the hands of consumers by way of their corporate IT departments. And she believes that these people, who purchase a lot of gadgets for personal use, have a big impact on which technologies their employers choose to buy.

"Technology that we use in the office is seeping into our everyday lives," she said. "And technology decisions that used to be made by the enterprises are now being driven by end-user demands. It's these end users who are encouraging the technology decisions at work."

The decision to change the company logo was linked to the fact that Cisco's products are becoming more visible to workers in general. In the past, Cisco's routing and switching equipment was tucked away in closets, where few employees outside the IT department ever saw them. Now Cisco's IP phones and software sit right on workers' desktops.

"The old logo was difficult to see," Bostrom said. "The new logo is simpler and takes up a lot fewer pixels, so it's more visible on end-user devices, whether it's a unified communications screen or a handheld wireless device."

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11 comments

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hehe
I've been this more and more too. One show on the SciFi channel, Eureka, seems to show it quite often during the show which surprised me at first.
Posted by chuchucuhi (233 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Product placement
I too noticed that on the show 'Eureka' that the camera lingered on the Cisco logo noticably longer and more prominantly than was required for the story line. Not surprised at all to see that this was intentional, nor frankly do I mind.
db
Posted by densbtly (15 comments )
Link Flag
Net Gear
Had to do a double take .... is this story about Cisco or Netgear (who also competes in the same space)?

The tag line reads "Net gear provider to spend $100 million on drumming its name into names of consumers--not its usual audience."
Posted by gnett (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
I don't get it?
I will start off by saying I am huge fan of Cisco!

I just don't get this, the new logo looks silly, and this new push to become a house hold name? Why?

What housewife with 2 kids is going to buy CallManager?

Cisco is the world leader in Networking Gear, period, full stop. No one can touch their equipment, and their cool phones already show up all over Television (24, Las Vegas etc).

So What do they hope to accomplish by spending all this money? I just don't get it?
Posted by LarryLo (164 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Linksys Fan also.
Well not sure about thier new logo either.
I have to agree with LarryLo here they are one of the best company to work with and tech support.
Is the greatest....
But sounds like they are working hard to do something only time will tell.
Netgear on the other hand can take thier products
and hike.

Will be interesting to see what happens in the future with Cisco

Hal
Posted by zebra148 (38 comments )
Link Flag
Eeeeeek!!!!
It's usually a red flag when a company starts advertising itself instead of it's products/services.

I never could understand the point of those weird Enron commercials...
Posted by DougDbug (62 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree.
It didn't really work for Sun now did it? Something about a dot or something?

The new logo is sad.
Posted by TV James (680 comments )
Link Flag
Cisco must be in trouble
That is the stupidest worst logo change I have ever seen. Awful!

And excuse me, consumer goods? Is Cisco in trouble?
Posted by R. U. Sirius (745 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Spend The $100 Million On Product Quality
Earth to Cisco: Spend that $100 million on product quality instead of advertising. I had to make two trips back to retailers to return your defective WRT54G. The first router I purchased had a pigtail connector that fell off right out of the box. The second one kept locking up after a day or two of wireless use. The third one finally worked. I wasted numerous hours tracking down the lockup problem and driving back and forth to retailers to return product and get new product. I am not impressed by your squiggly new logo. I am impressed by product that works first time, every time.
Posted by maxwis (141 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wow
That's weird. I've bought lots of WRT54G routers and not one of them had or has a problem. I think you are lucky. Stay away from me!!! =)
Posted by Gasaraki (183 comments )
Link Flag
Explanation
I know the difference, I've had a linksys sitting around, working
perfectly for years, but I bought it because I'm not willing to pay
for a Cisco for my living room. Most people don't (clearly even
CNet readers, which is a little sad). This includes most people
with small companies, and Cisco does want to sell to them. I
don't know if the publicity will really work of course... the
trade-up program's more likely to get it.
By the way, the logo looks more like the San Francisco bridge
now... (and less techie, which I'm guessing is the real point).
Posted by joy2b (1 comment )
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