Mainland computer giant Legend Group served notice to rivals that its overseas expansion is well under way, with a sweeping rebranding programme, according to market analysts. However, the group's new Lenovo product brand is not expected to become a global household name soon. The group announced last week that the Lenovo brand and logo would become the single identity for its international server and personal computer business, information technology services, handheld communications devices and other concerns. An exception is its existing PC motherboard business, which will retain the QDI brand and logo. Another larger exception covers all its business activities in the mainland, where Legend will continue to use its Chinese brand name, supplemented by the English Lenovo logo. The rebranding will take six months to one year to complete. The first products to carry the new logo will be six new colour-screen mobile phones, which will be launched in the mainland this month. Legend president and chief executive Yang Yuanqing said that using a new, unrestricted English brand name was key to the group's strategy of expanding its business outside of China. Overseas sales are targeted to make up 10 per cent to 20 per cent of total revenues by 2007. Legend earns nearly all its revenue from the mainland market. The original company name - in use for the past 19 years - 'was already registered by others in many countries, making it essential to design and register a new English brand name', Mr Yang said. Annie Chung, principal analyst at research firm Gartner, said Legend had carried out market studies and surveys for more than a year to come up with a name that it hoped would convey the good value of its products. 'Their search was apparently long and difficult - that is why they made up a name, which is a common practice in the IT industry,' she said. The first syllable of Lenovo was supposed to indicate a connection with Legend and its history, while its last two syllables were derived from a Latin root word that meant innovation and novelty, Legend officials said last week. The new brand name is meant to signify 'innovative Legend'. Kitty Fok, research director at International Data Corp, said Legend had registered its Lenovo brand in most markets in North America, Europe and Asia, in preparation for what could be an aggressive sales drive. She said Legend did not provide details of its global expansion plan, but noted that the group had ambitions to challenge the biggest IT players based on its focus on corporate and consumer hardware products and IT services. Legend senior vice-president Mary Ma said the group would spend at least one billion yuan (about HK$937.5 million) a year on product development to boost sales to overseas markets. Legend also planned to raise its marketing and promotion budgets by about 20 per cent to support its expansion programme. It spent about 2 per cent of its sales revenue on marketing and promotion in previous years. However, both Ms Fok and Ms Chung said Legend would have a tough job making Lenovo a recognised brand in highly competitive markets such as the United States and Western Europe. Marketing could only push Lenovo products so far, they said. Ultimately, Legend would need to further differentiate its products through increased innovation and value-added services. Ms Chung said Legend had grown large enough in its domestic market to make a serious bid to conquer global markets in consumer and corporate computer products, handheld communications devices and IT services.