Is Samsung a beloved brand? Not quite, but it’s really likeable.

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

Samsung is a classic product-driven brand, but has struggled to reach that next level where it becomes an idea brand.  I know the first thing people will say:  Does it matter if they love Samsung?  Well, my argument is that the more beloved the brand, the more power it can command and the more profit it can generate.  Profit has to matter, right?  

I like Samsung Products a lot!  But there’s not Brand Idea

Samsung-LogoSamsung has amazing products.  The TV’s are fantastic, high quality good designs and good prices.  The laundry products appear to be best in class, going beyond LG.   And the Samsung phones are amazing–leading Android technology with many consumers saying they are ahead of Apple.  The leading market share backs that up.  

But what’s the unifying idea behind Samsung?   Has Samsung created such a following that their most loyal consumers wouldn’t even look at another competitor?  Would they follow Samsung into a new category just because they buy into the brand?  Does Samsung elicit that crazed passion we see in Apple consumers?  This week, Apple launched a pretty good new phone, and we saw the usual line ups, running consumers and even a fight this time.  

There are enough Apple haters, but are they Samsung lovers?  

Samsung tried last year to go head-to-head with the Apple brand by mocking Apple, which tapped nicely into those who are sick of Apple and their fan club.  But there was very little in the ad that made us love Samsung.  

The problem for Samsung is they keep talking features and not benefits.  Even in that ad above, the only thing you take away is you can share song lists and you get a bigger screen.  There’s no talk of benefits, either rational or emotional.  In a technology battle, features are easy to duplicate but benefits are harder to replicate.  And the ad has no real brand idea, likely because the folks at Samsung don’t seem to know what their brand idea is.  

Where is Samsung on the Brand Love Curve?

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a hypothetical Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life.  Knowing where you on the curve allows you to understand how much connectivity and power your brand has in the marketplace.

At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings.  Consumers become outspoken fans.  It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with.  And with that power, you can generate more profit for your brand–through higher prices, lower cost, new categories or market share.  It’s important that brands understand where they sit on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a more Beloved Brand.  

While filled with fantastic products, the Samsung brand feels stuck at “Like It”.  Part of what separates “Like” from “Love” is the lack of the emotional connection.  When consumers start feeling more and thinking less, it shifts the discussion from just the product features to connecting to the brand idea.  slide1

The question that has to be bugging Samsung is How loyal and passionate is the Samsung consumer base?  If Samsung loses the technological advantage behind Android (which is slightly out of their control) then will they lose their customer base as well?  The head-to-head comparison with Apple might have Samsung winning on share, but Apple’s brand love still generates profit margins almost 4x that of Samsung.  And when Apple launches a new phone, we see line ups, people running to get into the store and even a reported fist fight in line.  Samsung would die for the connectivity with their consumer base and die for those margins.

Most beloved brands are based on an idea worth loving

It is the idea that connects the Brand with consumers.  And under the Brand Idea are 5 sources of connectivity that help connect the brand with consumers and drive Brand Love, including

      1. brand promise
      2. strategic choices you make
      3. brand’s ability to tell their story
      4. freshness of the product or service
      5. overall experience and impressions it leaves with you.  

Everyone wants to debate what makes a great brand–whether it’s the product, the advertising, the experience or through consumers.  It is not just one or the other–it’s the collective connection of all these things that make a brand beloved.  

Looking at those 5 connections, Samsung promises high quality, modern products at a good price.  And they deliver.  They do a great job on product freshness–especially in TVs and most recently phones and appliances.  But that’s where Samsung gets stuck:  they are just a promise and a product.  They fail on the Samsung story where we can’t see a unifying brand idea to help tell a consistent story across the Samsung brand.  And once we see them start turning their features into benefits for the consumer, we’ll start to see Samsung control the end experience for that consumer.  All beloved brands create an experience beyond the product, and it’s that experience that keeps consumers loyal and engaged with the brand.  

Samsung could learn from Apple

The Apple brand idea is all about simplicity.  The people at Apple take the technology out of the technology to make it so simple that everyone can be part of the future.  They align all their new products to this promise, whether it’s iPhones, Mac Books or iPads.  Apple lines up the story through advertising, social media and the use of key influencers.  And the retail stores deliver the experience of simplicity.


Samsung could also learn from the now famous Steve Jobs quote that you  “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way”.  If Samsung were to get into the shoes of the consumer and see the world through their eyes, they might start talking benefits, they might find a brand idea that unifies all the Samsung product lines and they might find that experience to take Samsung to the next level.

Hey Samsung:  Stop being just the “next best product feature” and find a brand idea to build around.    


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