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.