Corporate Eye

Gateway Brand Reborn

gateway-cowBack in 2007, Acer bought Gateway and took ownership of a brand that had a deep value but had also lost much of its original strength after years of Gateway’s failure to live up to its brand promise.  A brand that once dominated the personal computer market became a victim of its own success by forgetting that consumers had expectations for the brand based on its brand promise.  As Gateway tried to reduce costs by offshoring customer service and forgetting why consumers chose to buy Gateway-branded products in the first place, the brand was tarnished and eventually lost its appeal. 

The question now is whether or not Acer can revive that original brand promise or create an entirely new brand promise for Gateway that consumers will believe and ultimately buy into.  We’ll find out soon as Acer prepares to launch its first Gateway-branded products in the coming months.  According to The Register, Acer plans to debut Gateway-branded notebook computers and servers before the end of 2009.  The Taiwanese company will unveil its first Gateway-branded products at the Channel Expo event this week in the U.K.

There was a time when the cow-print box from Gateway held significant intrinsic value.  Can Acer revive that brand value?  It will be interesting to watch this one play out.  I argue that there is still a lot of value in the Gateway brand, but much effort needs to go into reminding consumers what the Gateway brand once meant and then living up to the brand’s promise and meeting (or exceeding) customer expectations for that brand with every customer interaction.  Of course, Acer might choose to modify the original brand promise.  If that’s the case, a significant amount of education will be needed to not only revive the brand’s credibility but also to re-educate consumers to associate a different brand promise and message with a brand that was once (and still is) ingrained in consumers’ minds.

The Gateway brand is not the first to undergo a rebirth, and it certainly won’t be the last.  Will Acer put the money and effort behind the brand that is required to overcome negative brand perceptions based on past experiences?  What do you think?  Can Acer successfully revive the Gateway brand?  Are you rooting for or against the Gateway revival?

Image: Flickr

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.

My first PC was a Gateway that I purchased back in the mid 90’s based on “word-of-mouth” advertising. I had started my career in IT with the U.S. Coast Guard and many of my colleagues had nothing but praise for Gateway’s quality products and excellent customer service. At the time, the ability to customize your personal computer at purchase seemed unique to Gateway and was very desirable to more experienced PC owners. Add to that their enthusiastic willingness to care for the customer and their product cradle-to-grave and you had a great formula for success.

Unfortunately, they had difficulty penetrating the business computing market with their desktop and server products. It seemed while they were focusing on winning business customers, they lost touch with the consumers that put them on the map. Their product quality quickly went downhill as did their customer service and many other PC vendors started offering customers the ability to “build at purchase”. Hmmm, as a former Saturn owner, much of Gateway’s sad tale sounds hauntingly familiar. I wonder if some staff were migrating between the two companies?

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