Logo slapping frenzy for phones

Mobile Today is predicting a "brand invasion" in the mobile phone market, as companies eye jealously the success of the Prada by LG phone. The influential CEO of Carphone Warehouse, Charles Dunstone, is quoted as saying that "the Prada phone lifted sales amid a gloomy market, and the prospect of
fashion-conscious consumers buying mobiles with the desire to have the
latest and coolest was a reason to be cheerful." There are at least two reasons to be cautious about the success of Prada wannabees, of which Levi’s are at the front the queue.


Logo Slapping, not branding

First, and most importantly, its likely that the copy-cats will rush into market with a "logo-slapping" strategy. The only main added value in this case will be the brand name, and the hope that this "badge" will be enough to get people to buy it. This is a classic example of "brand ego tripping", where a company gets too big for its brand boots, and under-estimates the value they need to add to take on the competition and win over the consumer. The biggest brand ego tripper of all time is of course Virgin, who slapped their logo onto a string of mediocre products which duly flopped or stayed dwarf-like (e.g. vodka, jeans).

In contrast, the Prada phone had the sexy sizzle/emotion of the Prada name, but also a very nice bit of sausage/product in the way of a code-breaking piece of industrial design. It has beaten the Apple iPhone to market with touch screen technology, and has a sleek black look. This is a good example of a brand idea inspiring and guiding the creation of a cool product. If LG had just slapped the Prada name on any old phone, it would not have worked. People aren’t that daft.

Now, compare to true brand added value of the Prada phone to the phone planned by Levi’s. This will have, wait for it, "a chain that could be fixed onto a
pair of Levi’s jeans". Well, watch out iPhone and Prada.

Getting to the disco as the DJ packs up
Isn’t it amazing how again and again brands have an over-powering impulsion to copy success, rather than trying to find their own spin on it? By the time they eventually get to market, often with an inferior product, the differentiating edge has gone. And what was once innovative become the norm. They get to the disco just as the lights are up, and the only person left is the DJ packing up. But as they’re there, they have a dance anyway.

This is what looks set to happen with fashion-brand mobile phones. The same thing is happening in clothing stores in the UK who are linking up with celebrities. H&M did it with Madonna. Top Shop went one better by getting Kate Moss, a true style icon who connected with young shoppers. Next was New Look with Lilly Allen, which seems to have had less impact… and the next one is likely to have even less effect, as the novelty wears off.

Steroids for under-performing brands
One brand who feels no need to use guest designers or other brands is Zara, and its nice to see them sticking to their success formula of great design and speedy changes of collection. Luca Solca of the Bernstein
consultancy summed up the downside of clothing chains using stars, which applies equally to phone companies using fashion brands (from Yahoo news). He said that "stars are a substitute for design, speed and quality" and compared firms that use them to "athletes forced to take steroids to