Samsung’s raises its game
In my career as an innovation manager and brand coach, Apple has often been used as a great source of inspiration. I should also own up to personally being an Apple fan. However, Samsung is another consumer electronics company that deserves attention, given the amazing growth in smartphones they achieved over the last 5 years (see below). Until a slowdown in sales at the end of 2014, Samsung outstripped Apple thanks to its Galaxy range of smartphones.
And there are signs that the softness in Samsung's sales was a temporary setback, with a forecast 2015 operating profit of $24.7 billion, up 10% vs. 2014, according to reports here. Certainly when I look at their marketing, it seems Samsung are raising their game. Below I explain why.
1. Clear brand vision
The first phase of Samsung's growth focused on pushing the product, especially the Galaxy series. It now looks like they have a clear vision not just about the "what" but also the "why", which is about accelerating discoveries and possibilities through digital technology. In the words of Won-Pyo Hong, President and the Chief Marketing Officer, “Samsung’s endeavor is to enrich consumers’ lives through digital innovation”. This vision is not about just the hardware, but also about how software and hardware work together.
2. Strong communication
Samsung set a new company record by winning 27 awards in 20 categories at the world’s largest advertising festival, the Cannes Lions. The "Launching People" campaign shows how Samsung can be a catalyst to help people realize their dreams; it engages consumers by encouraging them to share how their dreams and ideas have been made possible with Samsung. A point of distinctiveness versus Apple is the use of real people and situations, not idealised ones, such as this film about cyclists in Jeddah.
3. They 3. 3. Beyond brand comms to brand actions
Samsung has started to go beyond simply communicating the idea of “making dreams and possibilities come true” and started creating actions that truly deliver this. It is adding some product "sausage" to complement the emotional "sizzle". Here are a few examples:
– Look At Me: a smartphone app that helps children with autism
– Safety Truck: helps prevent traffic accidents by using front-mounted cameras to show drivers behind the truck a view of what traffic is ahead, so they know if its safe to overtake.
– Back Up Memory: an app designed to help early stage Alzheimer’s patients.
In conclusion, Samsung are following one of our mantras which is, "Don't say you're funny, tell me a joke". In other words, they have created a bold brand vision and then backed this up not only with communication, but also tangible brand actions. I haven't yet changed my iPhone, which I do love, but if Samsung keeps on raising its game like it has in 2015, who knows!