Your cell phone as a brand… a tool or a lifestyle?

by Chris Brown on Saturday, March 31, 2007

My friend, Laurence-Helene of Blog ’til You Drop: Advertising, Marketing, Branding and Blogging brings up an interesting point about the marketing and branding position of phones that I hadn’t thought about. We talked about something a lunch a few weeks ago and she did a post about it yesterday.

We were discussing branding/marketing of cell phones and I immediately thought of the various services here in the US. The people I talk with here in the US consider their service provider as their brand: Verizon, Cingular, Sprint.

Usually the discussions revolve around how many minutes, number on the family plan, the in-calling when they are talking about their phone… much more than their brand of phone. When Laurence-Helene asked me about my brand of phone, not provider, at the time I had to pull out out my phone from my purse to find out what kind I had (a Samsung). I told her I just think of it as a phone, not so much as a particular brand of phone.

She says that people in the UK immediately refer to their brand of phone, not the service provider. We decided it was one of the differences between the US and the UK. In yesterday’s blog, she referenced our conversation:

I’ve been watching the ads more carefully here. I think maybe some people may focus more on their phone than their plan… especially the chocolate and the razor. But if someone asked about phones, the Verizon network stands out more with all the many people standing behind them. Do you think I misrepresented to Laurence-Helene what is going on in the US with phones? Do you have a lifestyle relationship with your phone… or is it a tool like your car, your computer and your camera?

In the US, a cellphone is a tool. In Europe, a mobile phone is a lifestyle.

I’ve thought about our conversation quite a bit. Since my trip, the battery died on that phone so I upgraded to a Motorola Q. But now when I show it to people, most don’t recognize it as a Q or a phone, more as a PDA. I usually describe the Q as something like a Blackberry or a Palm with a phone built in, but on my Verizon plan.

Branding tools or lifestyle? My car is a Camry, my computer is a PC and my camera is a digital. Funny how I describe my technology!

How about you?- Is your technology a lifestyle or a tool? Tell me.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Douglas Karr Sunday, April 1, 2007 at 2:44 am

I absolutely love technology. I’ve always wanted to have the first of any technology. A few years ago, though, my job didn’t require a cell phone and I couldn’t afford it. So I did without. I have to say, it was the most peaceful 6 months of my life. I read, listened to music, and ate without interruption.

My job requires me to have a cell phone again and I despise it. I’m still a technology nut… but can not stand all of the constant interruptions that cell phones provide. I love email… I check it and respond when it’s convenient.

So… I’d say cellphones are a lifestyle: a terrible lifestyle!

laurence-helene Monday, April 2, 2007 at 9:01 am


Thanks for carrying on the conversation - I’ll probably post something soon about the advertising of mobile phones in the UK and the US shortly. I found some rather puzzling American ads…

To answer your question, cellphones to me are both a tool and a lifestyle. I own a Samsung D900 which was positionned as the business phone - I see my phone as an extension of myself.

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