The Marketing Strategist:

The Purpose of a Brand: How Dell Rescued its Reputation

January 16, 2013

What do you do when you lose 22 percent of your brand value in five years? When you fall off the Forbes Most Powerful Brands list? When a full 50 percent of your employees think your company’s best days are long gone? According to Monique Bonner, Vice President of Americas Marketing at Dell, you start with focusing on the purpose of your brand.  Monique presented the story of Dell’s Brand Journey, which started in 2009, at ITSMA’s 19th Annual Marketing Conference in Cambridge, MA, in December. The story she told was not an epic tale of an outside agency swooping in to create a visually dazzling new logo. Instead, she told about how Dell chose to focus on the company’s purpose, in part because research shows that purpose-driven companies see improvement in stock performance, revenue gains, and are, most importantly, able to attract and retain employees at the heart of their business. The first thing Dell did was to listen—to employees, executives, and even Chairman, CEO, and founder Michael Dell on what they felt makes Dell great. They went to customers—more than 10,000 consumers and business buyers across the globe—to hear what they thought about Dell. They asked straight-forward questions like:
  • What do you look for in a technology partner?
  • What do you need functionally?
  • What appeals to you emotionally?
The answers surprised them. The company that had bet on price differentiation found that nobody falls in love with a brand because of price. Customers told them that of course they cared about what the technology does, that it has to be reliable and improve their business. But, they also told Dell that they want to feel a certain way about their solution provider. They want to trust the company with whom they are doing business. To draw inspiration on how to elevate the brand to something that people can connect with emotionally, the team went directly to the source:  Michael Dell. They looked to his early speeches for inspiration, and found nuggets such as

“We put tools in the hands of people who are going to solve the world’s biggest problems.”


“Technology shouldn’t be a privilege; it is essential to human success.”

These ideas were the foundation of Dell’s evolution into a purpose-driven brand and as a trusted advisor to customers of all ranges. And, it is now clearly reflected on their website: “For more than 28 years, Dell has empowered countries, communities, customers and people everywhere to use technology to realize their dreams. Customers trust us to deliver technology solutions that help them do and achieve more, whether they’re at home, work, school or anywhere in their world.” Want more? Take a look at the video from the conference or read the online buzz from our twitter transcript

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