Mar 10

A brand about a millimeter thick

Great brands have depth. They stand for something. Their products are a good representation of their values. Their customers tend to remain loyal, even when things get a bit wobbly.

On the other hand, some companies have only a thin shell of a brand. It’s less genuine, more of a veneer than a true representation of what they believe. And the thinner the brand, the more temporary customers can be.

Case in point: Dell.

Dell has just announced that their Android-based Mini 3 smartphone will soon be coming to the US (it’s currently on sale in China). So far, so good. Welcome, Dell. You have to figure that if Dell makes it, they must believe in it, right?

Well, not so fast. A quick glance at the online Dell Store shows that Dell is doing a lot of believing these days. They’re pretty much hawking every smartphone brand under the sun. BlackBerry, Palm, Samsung? You bet. Motorola, LG? No prob. Droid, Pre, Bold, Exclaim, Backflip… Dell sells ’em all. HP, in comparison, sells its own smartphone — and nobody else’s.

The message is pretty clear. Dell is more concerned about making a few bucks than serving up the technology they really believe in. If they’re just as happy to sell me a Samsung Exclaim as they are a Mini 3, exactly what does the Dell brand stand for?

Then again, if you buy one of Dell’s competitors’ phones at the Dell Store (I feel silly even typing that), you probably stand a better chance of getting the most advanced software. Dell glosses over this little detail in their Mini 3 press release, but preliminary word is that their new baby will ship with Android 1.6, while Nexus One is running Android 2.1.

As my favorite philosopher Charlton Heston once screamed: “It’s a mad house!”

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  • Wow, this is such a great point, and one that most people overlook when it comes to explaining why Dell can’t succeed with the consumer.

    It’s because Dell has only ever been interested in ONE THING and ONE THING ONLY:

    Making A Quick Buck Off The Customer.

    That’s all they’ve ever stood for, and it’s even more evident today. (Remember Dell’s bait-and-switch scams of the 90’s? Actually, they’re probably still doing that today).

    And now, you’ve put the icing on the cake by giving multiple concrete examples of how Dell’s brand means absolutely nothing, and how they obviously do not care about their customers at all.

    Not that they ever did, but it’s just so crystal clear now.

    And speaking of Android’s fragmented mess of operating systems, did I ever send you the link to my all-time favorite chart that I have ever created? Here it is: iPhone vs. Droid Comparison Chart

    Keep up the great work, Ken!

  • That’s why I like companies like Apple. Make one product and make it well. Don’t even know what the latest Nokia or SonyEricsson is called. Having said that, I do own a Dell laptop. Great product and has given me two years of good service, because that is what they’re good at, making computers.

    Great article.