The importance of branding

At a recent get-together that I attended the conversation between a bunch of people that I had just met dwelled into the interesting world of technology. It was a very insightful discussion, with people sharing their views on how they use tech to help them through their daily chores. Interestingly (and rather by chance) all of us in the group were having an Android phone of one or the other kind. Some of us were up for an upgrade and most of us were going to stick to an Android phone of some make or the other. Apart from the usual hardware features that dominated the choice of the device, I was amazed to find people calling the Galaxy Nexus a Samsung Galaxy phone.

The whole point of Google going through the 'Nexus' branding exercise back in late 2009 and early 2010 with the launch of the nexus one was for people to realise that the Nexus line of phones have what we call 'pure Android'. I suppose most of the people who read/write here know the difference - however amongst this (rather large) group of people, most of who have known and used android based phones, it was very strange not to be able to find a handful that knew the difference. Infact they knew more about the SGS2 (and the Galaxy Note) than they did about what Galaxy Nexus stood for. Some of them were inquisitive as to why Samsung had changed the UI on the Galaxy Nexus significantly. I then explained to the group why it looked different (basically since it was different from all the other phones Samsung makes). The follow on discussions were around how ICS would 'look and feel' with a skin on top.

This and other conversations in the recent past has led me to conclude that Samsung, either by way of their ads or by way of getting sued have had a major boost to their Galaxy brand awareness and Google have not had enough of a brand traction with their Nexus branding. In fact, I am led to believe that most of the people who would buy the Galaxy Nexus are doing so because it is a Galaxy phone and not because it is a Nexus phone! This could be a clever move on Google's part to improve adoption of its halo device - by using an existing brand - for all that we know the next Google phone may be LG Optimus Nexus! (I am in no way suggesting that this is a phone in existence or that HTC has the same consistency with branding - just an example). On the other hand - why go through the whole process of branding your halo devices and then not promoting that brand?!