Weak Branding in Cell Phones

Brands can be powerful assets. Just think of Disney movies, for example. If you're going to take the kids to a movie, odds are, you'll give more consideration to a new Disney feature than features put out by unfamiliar names. If you're in the market for a new car, you'll likely have some strong and positive thoughts about Honda vehicles, but may have trouble seriously considering, say, a Pacco VBX 5000.

When it comes to cell phones, you probably think of cell-phone makers such as Nokia (NYSE: NOKNews), Motorola (NYSE: MOTNews), Samsung, and Sony-Ericsson, a joint venture betweenSony (NYSE: SNENews) andEricsson (Nasdaq: ERICNews). You might think that they've built great brand loyalty among their customers by now. You'd be wrong, though — at least according to a recent survey by Harris Interactive. The future will likely be rife with cell-phone service providers offering their own brands of cell phones, so the folks at Harris asked people how likely they'd be to buy various cell phones:

  • More likely to buy from a handset manufacturer: 19%
  • More likely to buy from a wireless service provider: 27%
  • Just as likely to buy from either: 54%

This suggests that cell-phone makers might want to focus more intently on strengthening and differentiating their brands, lest consumers start to consider cell phones mere commodities. Intel (Nasdaq: INTCNews) is famous for having made a strong name for itself via its "Intel Inside" campaign. Without it, most of us would likely have thought little about which company's chips reside in our computers.

Intel is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation, while Disney is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has a full disclosure policy.

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