Categories: Laura

iPhone was first, but so was Motorola.

The iPhone was described by Steve Jobs as “A revolutionary mobile
phone…[and] a breakthrough Internet communications device."

It literally changed how we thought about a cellphone. Instead
of being a better phone, iPhone was a better internet device. It pioneered a
diverging category of cellphones called touchscreen mobile internet devices.

Motorola invented the category of cellphones. Nokia brought cellphones
to the masses. BlackBerry invented the keyboard phone for email. Samsung
brought better designs. iPhone invented the touchscreen internet device. Motorola’s
Droid and Samsung’s Galaxy launched touchscreen devices running Andriod.

What is really striking about iPhone compared to other
cellphone brands is the consistency in their design and simplicity of the
naming. Each phone has the same look and each new model focused on one or two major improvements sure to generate lots of buzz.

Designing hardware that has a visual identity is an important part of
branding. The design of the iPhone is its visual hammer. While each year brings
a better device with more features, the general look of the phone and name of
the phone remains the same.

It’s a strategy Motorola could have used with StarTac or
Razr, but never did. Instead they launched too many models, sub-brands and never
stayed focused on the high-end. Plus they added their Motorola name to everything, a name that was connected to car radios not cellphones. It just goes to show you, even if you invent and pioneer a category it doesn't mean you will stay the leader. You need to make wise choices when it comes to branding especially as your categoy diverges.

Now comes the iPhone 5C – "C" is for colors? But most think of it as the cheap phone. Could it be Apple is making some of the same mistakes that Motorola did?

The iPhone 5C is a departure from the classic Steve Jobs
playbook. First Apple launched two phones at once. It is always better to focus
on one at a time. Second, they launched a cheap phone under the iPhone name and
number system. I’m not saying Apple should not have gone after the lower end of
the market, as time goes on there is opportunity at the top and bottom, but
usually not with one brand name. Apple needed a new name for the 5C.

Time will
tell how much it hurts iPhone’s prestige. But just remember, bad branding decisions
can easily turn today’s cult brand into tomorrow’s clunker if you don't stay focused and true to your brand.

Laura Ries :

View Comments (3)

  • This is so true....Apple has made an error by branding new variant of Iphone5 "C". Consumers just do not enjoy associating themselves with something cheap "C". Also thanks to plastic body which is so unusual of Apple.
    Users of Iphone always remember experience that they have enjoyed using Iphone. If they were so desperate to beat competition they could have branded it a "phone for consumer Experience" would have help maybe something like "Iphone 5E".
    Iphone 5C will potentially only erode its brand image and all the hard work done in past few years for branding.

  • Agreed! But I do believe they will be able to gain more market share. Laura, I am curious to what phone you have? I went to Samsung and I hated it, so Apple still has me locked in with its software so far. Also what is your opinion on Motorola and their Moto X Branding?

  • Apple has not changed their marketing strategy, they are doing exactly what Steve Jobs did with the iPod
    The original iPod when first launched was a very expensive peace of hardware at 399$. It is now sold in a price range from 49$ to 399$ dollars, all under the name iPod. Apple did once have a cheap laptop called the iBook and the more expensive PowerBook. Steve Jobs changed that and now all Apples laptops are sold under the name MacBook. So having the same name for an entire line of Apple products, from cheap to expensive is not something new, and it has not in any way hurt the sales or brand reputation of either the iPod or the MacBook. The reason for this is that all products are of exceptional high build quality. Even the cheapest iPod at 49$ is still a ultra luxury status design symbol, because it is still the coolest no screen ultra small mp3 player on the market.
    Cheap is not about the price, it's about the quality of the product.
    The iPhone 5C is not cheap, not in price and not in quality. The unlocked and contract free 5C begins at 549$ and the 5S at 649$ that is a 100$ difference. Exchange programs and carrier locked prices is not the price of the product.
    Marketing high end technology is different
    In 2007 you wrote - "Why the iPhone Will Fail", and every time Apple launch a new iPhone it's declared that this will be the iPhone to fail. You need to look at the echo system of apps and music around the iPhone. What is the biggest problem for the Windows smartphone - to small a echo system of apps. History is repeating itself, and Apple did not lose customers for the expensive iPod by selling very cheap iPods. Apple is dead on target, and they are doing exactly in smart phones what they did with the iPod.
    I am big fan of all your books, I just don't agree that this is as clear cut case of breaking any of the laws of marketing.
    /Mads Gorm