HTC, Brand of the Year 2008
We live in an era of phenomenal brand volatility. No brand is beyond these accelerated brand value cycles. The upward swings can be tremendous as can the death spirals. Epic Cinderella stories like Apple's never fail to amaze and smaller, more nuanced dramas are being played out daily.
In this context there is always a brand that is ready for a breakout. A brand that because of a combination of factors seems uniquely positioned to redefine a market in its own image.
In 2008 this brand will be HTC.
HTC has quietly been making some of the best smartphones and PDAs in the market for the last 10 years. Most notably, they have been the leading manufacturer of Windows Mobile phones and Cingular/ATT's line of branded smartphones.
Recently HTC has been bringing its marketing into line with its standards of product excellence. They cleaned up their brand and are doing a good job of making sure it had a place on all of the devices they create. They even put a toe in the murky waters of advertising. Work is needed on the approach to product naming (which is a bit of a mess) but HTC will figure this out.
Of course, the brand drivers that will propel HTC to breakout in 2008 will not be found in its media plan. HTC understands that every great value proposition is built around real value. The company has led the handset industry in a number of arenas:
- Partners -Google, Microsoft, AT&T. Enough said. Look for HTC to extend its brand partnership competency to a range of product brands a la what LG and Samsung have done with Prada and Armani.
- Product Design - The company consistently puts out the broadest range of innovative handsets, hands down. And its not just about hardware; the interface work that they have done with TouchFLO is world class. HTC's ability to integrate the design of software and hardware puts them in a market-leading position.
- Goodwill - HTC's branding story is most impressive because it has not been built using traditional marketing techniques. Instead HTC has consistently provided value to partners, developers and customers and this consistency has created an enormous amount of goodwill with influential industry watchers such as Engadget and the Boy Genius.
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You're on crack. The vast majority of Taiwanese companies has no idea how to brand, HTC is no exception. Ask 100 ppl in the US or UK who HTC is and you'll see how off the mark you are. Most Taiwanese CEOs/upper management view marketing as a waste of money and this is demonstrated by miniscule footprints outside the ODM/OEM space. You say it yourself: "HTC has QUIETLY been making some of the best smartphones and PDAs in the market for the last 10 years". Unless you see SG&A go up 1000% the silence will continue. Given the visibility of Cher Wang's other company VIA to most consumers, I don't think we'll be seeing HTC ads on TVs in North America/US anytime soon.
Posted by: HTC Doubter at Sep 3, 2008 3:11:27 AM
No doubt, Doubter. Over the course of the last year, HTC's done pitifully little to build its brand, although they continue to put out great products. Here in New York we had the special treat of seeing some really lame outdoor ads for the Tilt. Certainly nothing that anyone would pay any attention to.
I still feel that HTC has a ton of brand potential, but it won't be easy and it won't be this year. We'll see what kind of lift they get off of the Android phone. But with Apple knocking the snot out of everyone else in mobile handsets, the question is about established brands surviving rather than new brands coming up.
Posted by: Michael Megalli at Sep 3, 2008 11:41:27 AM
But with Apple knocking the snot out of everyone else in mobile handsets, the question is about established brands surviving rather than new brands coming up.
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I still feel that HTC has a ton of brand potential, but it won't be easy and it won't be this year.
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