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Inside Logitech’s plan to painstakingly reinvent itself

This isn’t your father’s Logitech. This isn’t even Logitech.

On July 8, Logitech announced a rebranding effort — a new brand, actually, called simply Logi. The new name from the company you know as the keyboard and mouse place is meant as more than just a name change. Earlier this week, Logitech showcased a new line of products at a special event in New York City. And while there were keyboards and mice, there were noticeably more products geared for everyday use: iPad cases, portable speakers, and home automation products.

Logitech began its reinvention back in 2013 as the global PC market was facing four consecutive quarters of declines in PC shipments year-over-year. The company lost $195 million in the third quarter of the 2013 fiscal year, which includes the lucrative Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. The products it displayed at its summer event are an “outward expression” of its business shift, according to a company press release. While the Logitech name permeated the banners and products in the event, the company’s first iPad case, the BLOK Protective Shell, bears the new “Logi” name.

Digital Trends spoke with a few of the people at the center of Logitech’s rebranding, including the Director of Brand and Portfolio for its keyboard division, the Director of the company’s Gaming Business Group, and an entrepreneur in residence — part of the company’s secret “innovation incubator.”

Art-O-GnimhArt O Gnimh (Global Director, Brand and Product Portfolio)

Digital Trends: Keyboards and computer accessories have been Logitech’s bread and butter, even as the company has ventured into other areas outside of PCs. How has Logitech’s focus on computer products changed during this period?

Art O Gnimh: As the world is changing, people are using more different types of devices in more different places. We’re developing products specifically for those devices, and also some products like these that work across different devices and different places. Like a mouse that works just as well on a PC as on a Mac. Or a keyboard that works just as well on your tablet or your smartphone as it does your computer.

One that is designed not just for using at a desk but that you can pick up and take with you into the kitchen if you want to get stuff done there. People are changing what they work on, where they do it, and even the nature of the work that they do. Work doesn’t mean Excel and Word anymore, it means just getting stuff done. We want to provide the tools to help them get stuff done better — so they can focus on doing it and not necessarily the complexity of the technology.

Vincent-TuckerVincent Tucker (Director, Gaming Business Group)

Digital Trends: Logitech is going through a big rebranding. How do new gaming products, such as the G27 steering wheel, factor into this?

Vincent Tucker: What we’re expecting is it’s going to be a transition process. Logitech is a heritage company; we’ve been around for almost 34 years and from a gaming perspective, we’re probably going to transition over a period of time. There’s a lot of very, very good background and strength from our engineering organization that goes into gaming. There’s a lot of research that goes into gaming. If you think about gaming and you think about Logitech, gaming is kind of like the F1 team for the rest of Logitech. We expend a lot of effort on science. We expend a lot of effort developing and bringing technology forward. Much of that effort finds its way to every other product that’s in the market.

We’ve done steering wheels for a long time, and the thing that steering wheels do for most people is they complete the experience. It’s a great experience. It’s a common experience. Nearly everyone drives a car and they just love that. What this steering wheel does is just complete that experience.

Tell us about that science, that R&D. What’s in the pipeline?

About three years ago we started working with this company called Omron, and we developed a gaming mechanical switch from the ground up. The other mechanical switches that are on the market were designed about 30 years ago and weren’t designed for gaming. So we went to Omron, a world-renowned switch manufacturer, to make a switch specific for gaming. And we made it RGB so every user can change it to whatever color they want, 16.8 million of them, and on top of that we are working with developers. Most people when they game they just want the screen to be beautiful windows, so you can put your tachometer, speedometer, or the damage and performance of your car onto your iPad or something. On top of that, the G910 Orion Spark keyboard can be your tachometer.

Vincent-BorelVincent Borel (Entrepreneur in Residence)

Digital Trends: What do you do at Logitech?

Vincent Borel: I work at Logitech under what we call our SEEDS, which are new products that don’t fit in any of our existing businesses. So, if it’s kind of like our innovation incubator.

How long has SEEDS been around?

I would say a couple of years now. Two or three years.

The big news is the Logitech rebranding — how does home technology factor into the strategy?

You know, I think the whole point of dropping the “tech” is because technology’s everywhere and you don’t need to say it. There were days where technology was “the thing.” Today, technology is everywhere. You might find it in your clothes and you don’t even know that it’s there. For us it was more important to say “we have a brand that stands for experiences and happens to leverage technology.”

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Keith Nelson Jr.
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