Compaq's re-Brandling exercise

Compaq's re-Brandling exercise

"It's a completely new Compaq". So says Paul Brandling, the eight-year Q veteran anointed to replace the controversial, elusive, long-serving and now gone Ian Penman as the managing director of Compaq Australia.

Speaking to the press for the first time yesterday since stepping up to the plate a few weeks ago, Brandling was the bearer of some strong third-quarter results for the company which is trying to shed its image as being merely a vendor of PCs.

The public perception - or branding - of Compaq was a soapbox Brandling's predecessor climbed upon regularly in his last months at the helm. Penman's replacement appears determined to carry on evangelising.

Brandling said he has no doubts the internal integration challenge of getting all staff to understand the "big picture" has been "done and busted".

However, he agreed the branding to the external community of Compaq as being more than just a PC company needs more focus. A multimedia advertising campaign kicked off across Australia last week, he said.

"Personally, I think we have done a poor job of our branding. We squeaked like a mouse when we should have been roaring like a lion."

The good news for the channel is that Compaq's new local head says he knows you well. Brandling told ARN he had been working in the channel side of Compaq's business for the last eight years. This, he claims, gives him a firm grasp of the business and competitive issues facing channel partners as well as the importance of partnering to deliver complete solutions.

"The philosophy I want to drive is that we can't go it alone," Brandling said. "We need an inclusive [channel] program to map out what value is being added and how we can best utilise that value to mutual benefit."

Brandling conceded there are still major challenges for Compaq in its channel structure, branding perception and maintaining growth of PC sales. He did see these as being surmountable though.

"Our opportunity and challenge is in some way the same thing," he said "And that is anticipating what is going to happen in the market in the future so we can be proactive rather than reactive."

"Compaq's vision is 'Everything the Internet'. Today that means all the things we understand about personal uses. In the future, when we see broadband and wireless come together, we are then into the pervasive information era and that creates a whole range of potentially different dynamics and new business methodologies."

"We want to understand and anticipate those changes and work with our partners to make sure we are well positioned with solutions ahead of the pack and not chasing it."

Brandling also said channel partners are facing the same challenges and opportunities as vendors and that those who can differentiate, adapt and focus will shine while anybody who wants to sit on a box-shifting model "cannot survive".

"It comes down to the same principle and that is understanding what their real core competencies are and where they can add value, not only today, but in the way they shape their business for tomorrow," he said.

Brandling said there is two key elements to this. "One is the ability of all organisations to partner and secondly, they should be really crisp about what they want their business to be good at in the value proposition equation. That is their opportunity and their challenge."

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