Case Study


The threat: a competitor with deep pockets entering the mobile space

The challenge: a portfolio of products with little clarity and focus

The path: leveraging a flagship brand to shape the future of Qualcomm

For more than two decades, Qualcomm has been a mobile technology leader focused on its engineering prowess, commitment to innovation and market dominance. For a narrow set of customers, Qualcomm was the only, necessary partner. For senior leadership, it was much easier to build the business by focusing on green fields and licensing technology rather than building and managing a brand strategy.

A formidable threat

But as the market began to shift from desktops and laptops to smart devices, Intel began to pivot into the mobile technology space. With its history in building a successful ingredient brand strategy and conviction to aggressively spend and acquire market share, Qualcomm needed to protect its chipset and licensing businesses. 

Around the world Qualcomm employs talented engineers and year over year spends billions of dollars keeping its technology on the bleeding edge. Yet Qualcomm and its direct competitors focus their brand communications on innovation and performance - with none solely owning these attributes. For smart device customers, the brand of the chip set is one of the lowest purchasing considerations in a long list of undifferentiated attributes. Smart device brands and service providers own the end-user relationship and mindshare.

The 3 year brand program started with the brand portfolio and was calibrated to answer four key strategic questions:

  • Which brand(s) in the portfolio can maximize shareholder value and ROI?
  • How can the brand portfolio and architecture articulate the strategic business intent?
  • Which inherent strengths and marketplace needs can form the unified brand promise in a relevant, credible, differentiated and inspiring manner?

Focus on the long game

As proud owners of 50+ brands, senior leadership quickly aligned on the most valuable brand assets – Qualcomm and Snapdragon. While immediately shifting all of its marketing efforts to Qualcomm wasn’t possible, ensuring that investments in Snapdragon and other vertical industries such as health and wellness yield positive brand equity for Qualcomm became a key brand portfolio principle. With greater brand investment and discipline, Qualcomm would become the brand that pulls the entire connectivity, computing, and licensing businesses. 

Given the company had a history of “flying under the radar” with the Qualcomm brand, focusing the spotlight on Qualcomm created discomfort amongst executives and business leaders. To avoid any unintended negative consequences with device makers and regulatory bodies , the licensing business narrative needed to be credible, clear and benefit oriented. The shift required a focus from recurring revenues to the high investment spend on future technologies. The licensing business in essence needed to be communicated as and understood to be the “labs” function of Qualcomm.

Expressing the end-benefit

The Qualcomm brand needed to be redefined and built on its presence in devices all over the world. Moving the brand from speeds and feeds, Qualcomm focused on differentiation in how it helps fuel the breakthroughs that transform how people live. By fueling co-creation with partners, Qualcomm enables both its industry and end-users to unlock their potential to create meaningful change.

The new visual system built on “the potential” and helped energize the Qualcomm brand in which photography elevated the human aspect of end-users and iconography visualized Qualcomm’s role in IoT and growing presence across commercial and consumer ecosystems. 

Changing of the guard

The focused Qualcomm brand launched at two key events - the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. After 12 years of Microsoft delivering the keynote address at CES, Qualcomm’s CEO Paul Jacobs took over and reinforced the shift to mobile. Following CES the brand dramatically expanded its presence in China and other key markets reinforcing its leadership position across major global markets.

The architecture: streamlined to change the licensing narrative to innovation 

The brand platform: focused on defining meaningful innovation

The brand proposition: focused on humans and outcomes

Expressing the brand: a visual language to simplify and minimize complexity

Activation: the brand was launched in key international markets

Internal engagement: launched the brand through workshops around the world

CEO Paul Jacobs delivers the keynote address at CES

Brand behaviors: brand behaviors were shaped post-engagement workshops

Leadership: CES exhibit was on brand and heavily trafficked