With strategic branded technology partnerships and its Snapdragon Insiders program, Qualcomm is quickly developing its consumer-facing Snapdragon brand
Editor’s note: Qualcomm provided travel, lodging and other accommodations associated with Snapdragon Summit.
MAUI—In July 2021, Don McGuire was appointed senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Qualcomm. Since then, the company has elevated its Snapdragon brand into a consumer-facing powerhouse you may recognize from Scuderia Ferrari’s F1 cars, from Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium, and from most all flagship Android devices.
Speaking this week at the Snapdragon Summit, McGuire sat down with Pat Moorhead and Daniel Newman for their Six Five On the Road video podcast series to discuss the brand journey. It started, McGuire said, by purposefully deciding to separate the Qualcomm and Snapdragon brands with support from CEO Cristiano Amon who was elevated to the top job a month before McGuire took the CMO reigns.
“We never really believed [the brands] belonged together,” McGuire said. “They actually didn’t work together as brands, believe it or not. It was really difficult for our partners to use and talk about in advertising, in co-marketing. The Snapdragon brand had already enjoyed a standalone sort of ascension in certain markets in Asia, then when we lobbed Qualcomm on top of it, it created confusion.” This started a positioning journey that McGuire said has resulted in 87% total brand awareness in China, 82% in India, 84% in Southeast Asia, and ongrowing growth in Latin America, Europe and the United States.
This week Qualcomm unveiled its Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 flagship SoC along with material updates across subsystems all of which have their own Snapdragon branding—Snapdragon Sight, Snapdragon Sound, Snapdragon Connect, Snapdragon Elite Gaming, Snapdragon Smart, and Snapdragon Secure. To the extent that history is instructive, expect to see flagship phones from Android OEMs sporting the 8 Gen 2 in the coming months.
But beyond the technology story, “The power of brand cannot be underestimated in highly-competitive markets,” McGuire told Moorhead and Newman. “Oftentimes it’s the thing that gives you an edge.” The strategy, he said, isn’t about dropping a ton of money to slap logos on things or global television advertising campaigns. “Nor should we,” McGuire said. “These partnerships that are very, very strategically thought through and have to deliver on certain objectives.”
He continued: “There has to be business relationships there, there has to be technology integration opportunities for us to help that partner digitally transform themselves or their team or their entity or their campus or their stadium or whatever that might be.”
With Ferrari, Qualcomm is acting as a “systems solutions provider” for road vehicles, specifically with its Digital Chassis solution, and is a “premium partner” for the Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 team and Ferrari’s eSports team. With Manchester United, Qualcomm is in a “multi-year global strategic collaboration” that will see Snapdragon platforms deliver new types of fan experiences for fans on-hand at Old Trafford or watching around the world. It should go without saying (but will still be noted here) that Ferrari and Manchester United are iconic, beloved brands that occupy space in billions of consumer minds around the world.
Also of note is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Insiders program, launched in March 2021 and, according to McGuire, now has millions of community members in more than 200 countries on six continents–Antarctica is the hold-out. Since its inception, Qualcomm has brought a number of the members to Hawaii for Snapdragon Summit. Two of them, Devin Arthur of Ontario, and Ryan Banks of Utah, graciously chatted with me on the sidelines of the event.
Banks said he has long-followed Qualcomm’s cellular tech, and Arthur said, “For me, it was more about kind of like the evolution of the smartphone from something that you used to be only to make calls on…to then having a full-featured computer in the palm of your hand. I’ve always owned Snapdragon devices since as long as I could remember, before they were even Snapdragon.
In terms of the community Qualcomm has cultivated, Banks explained to me that interactions were initially over Twitter or email. Now though, “It’s gotten to the personal level…’How’s life, how’s the family.’…It’s really brought a lot of us together from around the world.”
Reflecting on the evolution of Qualcomm from a technology and brand perspective, Arthur said, “Qualcomm was traditionally a chipmaker, and it was the chips that powered your modem…It’s really evolved to the point where Snapdragon as a brand is its own ecosystem and it powers pretty much any device you can think of.”