Remember Legally Blonde, the film about a sorority girl who goes to Harvard Law School and leads in the fight for respect for blondes everywhere?
At one point, the heroine Elle Woods is shown in the middle of the classroom with her brand new tangerine Apple iBook surrounded by a sea of dark PC laptops. The whole point of the scene is to show the contrast between the main character and her classmates. Elle’s different. She’s fashionable. She’s stylish. And so is the iBook!
Now, imagine that same scene… not with an Apple… but with an Adamo notebook from Dell.
Yes, that’s right… a Dell… you know, the maker of plain Jane, low-cost computers.
With its new Adamo brand (Adamo means “to fall in love with” in Latin), Dell is going stylish and fashionable, or trying to at least. This brand of high-end laptops is all about luxury and design.
The laptop is thinner than the Air, Dell claims (not if you consider that the Air tapers to 0.16 inches), comes in stylish colors and has similar tech specs to the Air.
Of course, Dell isn’t highlighting performance. Dell is highlighting design and aesthetics.
All of this is part of a deliberate strategy by Dell to become more consumer-friendly. They’re saying: “We can be cool,” and “We can be sexy.” As one Dell representative has said: “We’re focusing on the fashion instead of the IT… We want the user to be presented with this and feel special about what they’re getting.”
Can Dell change consumer perception? Sure, could happen.
But at the end of the day, it’s all going to come down to performance. Dell may change people’s perception of its computers as plain Jane… but can the performance match up with the desired upscale image? Consumers care about aesthetics, but they need to have trust in the brand.
All of this reminds me just how difficult it is to change perceptions and transcend current brand images. I think Dell is going in the right direction with its Apple-like approach. However, Dell has a long way to go.
Even Dell recognizes this, with one representative saying: “The thing about the marketplace and really how to change perception — you’re judged on your deeds. So you build a great product, and you deliver that. It doesn’t happen overnight, so we’re doing it product-by-product and brand-by-brand.”
There’s the difference. Apple doesn’t have anything to prove. Everyone knows they know how to deliver design and performance. Dell needs to prove they can, too. Dell needs to fight for respect. And that will take time.
Brand building, after all, is a marathon… not a 5K.