Two Motorolas, one huge branding mistake

Motorola Inc., the maker of mobile phones and two-way radios, is targeting January for the spinoff of its handset unit, splitting the company in two.

The new company will be known as Motorola Mobility.

The remaining business, Motorola Solutions, will make bar-code scanners, walkie-talkies and other emergency-communication equipment.

Mobility, or Solutions?

Thus, there will be two Motorolas and two Motorola brands in the market next year.

In all the spinoff announcements there has been no mention of how the shared brand will be managed, which should be a concern to investors. How will each of the two Motorola brands move forward and evolve, as they will need to in order to stay relevant and competitive in their specific market categories, without undermining each other?

Motorola is treating the separation as though they it were naming two new divisions, each with vacuous appellations, in the apparent belief that the Motorola brand will magically float above the two, managing itself in the ether as it has done always. As both businesses are inherently about ‘mobility’ and ‘solutions’, how is the market supposed to understand the difference between Motorola Solutions and Motorola Mobility?

The truth is that Motorola has never understood branding and the role of the Motorola brand. Brands have always been about product.

Prediction: Only one of these businesses will survive as Motorola. The other will languish, not understanding how a commoditized industry has moved to differentiation by brand, until it is too late to save it from being acquired by a competitor. If and when this happens, what will happen to the Motorola name then?

Name origin: Motorola founder Paul Galvin came up with this name when his company (at the time, Galvin Manufacturing Company) started manufacturing radios for cars. Many audio equipment makers of the era used the “ola” ending for their products, most famously the “Victrola” phonograph made by the Victor Talking Machine Company (later JVC).  The name was meant to convey the idea of “sound” and “motion”. It became so widely recognized that the company later adopted it as the company name.

One thought on “Two Motorolas, one huge branding mistake

  1. Pingback: Namedroppings.com Drops Hammer On Motorola | The B2B Brand Debate

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