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Cisco's new campaign: ‘There’s never been a better time’ to be digital

Over the past 30-plus years, Cisco has almost single-handedly carried the flag for network-centric innovation. Its many brand campaigns along the way have told us that Cisco can “Empower the Internet Generation” and connect the “Human Network” and that “Tomorrow Starts Here.”

Each of those branding initiatives was tied to a different era in networking. For example, “Tomorrow Starts Here” was targeted at the Internet of Things (IoT).

Now that IoT is well underway, Cisco is changing its brand to be more reflective of the next wave in business: the “digital” era.

This morning, Cisco’s Chief Marketing Officer, Karen Walker, outlined the thoughts behind Cisco’s new brand campaign of “There’s Never Been A Better Time.” Cisco’s tagline is supported by a number of use cases that explain what it is that there’s never been a better time to do. Below are a couple of examples that illustrate how “there’s never been a better time to make cities smarter” or “… to save the rhinos.” Along with the headline, Cisco provides stories and data points, quantifying the value of digitization.

Cisco's new campaign: ‘There’s never been a better time’ to be digital

At launch, Cisco released a number of digital examples that vary widely by vertical, region and value. The main point is that for all organizations, there has never been a better time to use digital assets to find a different, better faster way of doing things. The technology is there; it’s time to put aside excuses and take advantage of digital transformation.

The objective of the new campaign is for Cisco to establish itself as visionary and digital thought leader. Cisco has done this before with previous branding campaigns, but its approach is different this time.

With past campaigns, Cisco tried to be futuristic and get people to think about what’s possible. With this campaign, all of the examples are actual digital initiatives underway with Cisco customers, so “there’s never been a better time” is much more about what’s happening now versus what might happen in the future. To see an example, take a look at the joint Cisco – Dimension Data project “save the rhinos.”

Digital is changing the world

The “here and now” focus of the new campaign is appropriate for the digital era. One of the main talking points for Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins and Executive Chairman John Chambers is that digital is changing the world faster than ever, and businesses that act on it now will put themselves in a position to be market leaders. Those that do not will struggle to be relevant, with many going out of business.

By providing examples of what other companies are doing, Cisco should be able to create some urgency to get other organizations moving faster. Cisco makes the point that there’s never been a better time to solve some of the toughest challenges in business and society with technology.

The digital initiatives Cisco uses will be country-led, so the use cases in Canada will be different than what someone in Australia might see. This should help create the customer-engagement experience Cisco is looking for. It’s one thing to see a use case about something happening halfway around the world, but when it’s in your own backyard, it reinforces the message that the time for digital is now.

Also, Cisco will be promoting its partners in the success stories. The “save the rhino” story with Dimension Data will become the norm rather than the exception. Cisco understands that digital transformation is a huge undertaking for its customers and not something it can deliver alone. By highlighting partners, Cisco shows it can deliver an ecosystem of partners to help its customers complete the digital journey.

Another difference between this campaign and past campaigns is that Cisco will be delivering a highly “digital” campaign. Expect to see a mobile-optimized experience delivered over multiple channels that is driven heavily by social media activity. Cisco is very active on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social channels, and I would expect them to keep the volume up with respect to this new campaign.

It’s no secret that Cisco has had its eyes on increasing its relevancy with business leaders and has boldly claimed its goal is to be considered the most strategic technology vendor. “There’s never been a better time to” will certainly help that cause.

As I pointed out to Robbins when he took over from Chambers, all of the building blocks of digital transformation (IoT, cloud, mobility, security, etc.) are network-centric, so digitization must not just be IT-led but be network-led. Considering there isn’t another network vendor that’s even close to having the same scale, size and capabilities of Cisco, this should be Cisco’s best opportunity to fulfill its goal of being both a networking leader and a technology visionary.

Organizations are looking for a partner to navigate the changing world. So, while Cisco is telling us there’s never been a better time to embark on the digital journey, it appears there’s never been a better time to be Cisco, as business solutions now are network-centric, putting Cisco at the center of digital transformation.

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