Android – from zero to global hero in 2 years

Its incredible to see the growth of Android, Google's operating system for smartphones and tablets. The first Android phone was launched in Oct 2008, and didn't make that many waves. One report said: "The first day of sales for Google's Android phone hasn't echoed the frenzy surrounding initial iPhone sales".

But wind forward a couple of years, and Android is now neck and neck with Apples' IOS and Blackberry to be the leading US smartphone system. Some reports even put Android in front.

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The explosion of Android phones has of course been helped by Google giving it to phone makers for free. And it has a big advantage vs. Apple in being used on multiple phone makers, whereas Apple's IOS is only on . Here are some thoughts on why Android has been such a hit.

But Google have also done some smart things with the Android brand itself.

1. A powerful brand property

The little green robot used as a brand symbol is pure genius. It is distinctive, impactful and suggests technology, but in a friendly way.

2. Bring the brand property to life, literally

It started as a 2-d property. But it has increasingly been brought to life in 3-d to make it even more powerful. As David Hilton of Sony says, "The robot has helped drive brand awareness not just for Android users, but to wider audiences".

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3. Embraced by partners

What is really impressive about Android is the way that the brand has been embraced and used by partners. Phone brands like Sony use the symbol widely. Check out the "brand fusion" below.

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And phone shop Carphone Warehouse has done advertising in press and even on TV starring the little green robot.

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Intel are held up as the masters of "ingredient" branding. But I think Android have done an even better job as, unlike Intel, they have not paid people to use their brand. Rather, partners have used it as they think it will help them sell more stuff. Julien Diment of Carphone says: "With the Android brand and robot, Google has played an important role in democratising smartphones".

In conclusion, Android is a great example of how creating and consistently using a brand property can help drive awareness and bring to life your brand, creating that all important "memory structure" that helps a brand be recalled and relevant when it matters.