Xerox softens image in brand overhaul

Xerox Corp on Monday launched a multimillion dollar brand overhaul, aiming to cement its image as a technology and services provider and finally shed the notion that it simply makes copiers.

The company will change its logo as well as many of Xerox's related images, fonts and symbols in print, packaging and on the Web. Advertising with the new look will follow re-training of employees, which in total could span two years.

"There is a perception gap -- today we do not make any copiers," said Richard Wergan, Xerox's vice president of worldwide brand marketing and advertising.

Xerox last tried to sweep the dust from its brand three years ago. Wergan says this effort is far more extensive.

"This is a significantly broader and deeper brand change and as such will be supported by a significantly greater budget than that which we deployed when we made a more peripheral change to the brand in 2004," he said.

Xerox's current logo, which displays the company name in hard-edged red lettering, will be replaced with a softer lowercase font. Xerox is also adding a symbol -- a red globe wrapped in an asymmetric letter "X" -- to signify its connections with customers and partners.

Xerox's ad agency is Young & Rubicam, part of WPP Group Plc.

For many, Xerox's iconic name is a synonym for photocopying, just as Google is generically used to describe how people search for information on the Web and " Hoover" is still a quick way of saying vacuum cleaner.

Xerox, which says it is the world's biggest supplier of office printers and related services, still sells many machines that copy documents. But long-term supplies and services contracts that accompany those hardware sales represent about 75 percent of total revenue.

The company has hinted at new television commercials in which printing machines are conspicuously absent, instead showing how the company can help businesses manage the costs of the documents they generate.

Angele Boyd, a vice president at market research firm IDC, said the time may be right for Xerox to polish its brand, which less than 5 years ago was tarnished by accounting scandals and troubles within its sales force.

"They have had growth in terms of earnings and they have been revving their product lines as rapidly as they need to," she said. "The innards of Xerox are consistent with what they are trying to deliver from a messaging and packaging perspective."

While experts credit the company with impressive new products, solid profitability and improving market share, analysts have been disappointed by anemic sales gains.

Xerox shares slipped on Friday to a 16-month low of $15.17 during the trading session, amid broader declines sparked by concerns a weak U.S. economy would hurt capital spending. ( Reuters )

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