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April 24, 2008

Motorola Naming and Branding Set to Bounce Back

Here’s a riddle for you: what American company invented a nifty cutting edge consumer tech product that we all loved and then fell behind as faceless rivals offered cheaper, blander versions of its own invention, leading to a forced corporate shake up and the practical demise of the company before a cool new product made it a market leader and a super brand name a generation after it had been written off in the press?

Applelogo.pngI am talking about Apple, but I might be talking about Motorola.

It’s now almost official that the Motorola handset division will spin off from the business and keep its name in a quest to become a “cellphone icon” according to USA Today, which quotes one exec as saying “The Motorola brand is really important to devices [...] My feeling is that it really means a lot to the (handset) division."

As I indicated back in March, it is unusual for a company that has been raided to keep its brand naming but in this case its a great move. There is massive equity behind the Motorola name despite some recent missteps: Nerdyblog, for instance, claims that the z6M ROKR phone “doesn't deserve the Motorola name.”

Motorolalogo.pngThe key is for Motorola to introduce cutting edge cellphones that use the newest technology they can get their hands on. Motorola made a simple mistake three years ago: it bet the house on the very popular RAZR line and then didn't embrace 3G technology, a move that hurt the company enough to let Icahn and his cronies in the back door.

It seems Motorola has some really interesting devices planned to roll out, but the key is to find a way to morph hi-tech with the kind of look and feel consumers want. The rise of the so-called “smart phone” offers Motorola a chance to repeat its success with the RAZR by giving us a phone with the features we like in a cool package and a cool brand name.

They did it once, why not do it again?

Motorola, lest we forget, were the people who brought us the original 28 ounce cell phone over twenty years ago.

It’s now facing the same kind of problems Apple faced in the early 1990s, but if they can come back with their own cellphone version of the iPod, watch this beleaguered brand name clean up.

My advice? Keep the Motorola name, drop the RAZR, ROKR, SCPL, MOTORIZR naming and branding and push into fresh brand naming territory, Motorola. You have nothing to lose.

Posted by William Lozito at April 24, 2008 7:40 AM
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