Samsung’s grand re-branding rumors are overblown

Samsung Apple branding iphone galaxySamsung is rumored to be working on a complete overhaul of its brand identity to be unveiled at the beginning of January during CES 2013. The new look supposedly waves goodbye to the oval Samsung logo and say hello to color-coded branding and lifestyle-orientated advertising. But is this actually going to happen? A source close to Samsung tells us that the changes are not as drastic as the media envisions.

Describing the report as “odd,” our contact said “it’s not an accurate description of what Samsung is doing,” and adds it contains “some real disinformation.” We’ve also been told that the “visual brand identity” may not alter as much as the initial report suggests.

So, while Samsung’s re-branding exercise may not be as comprehensive as first rumored, we expect the changes to still have a big impact, as the battle against its nemesis continues. Still, our source confirms that it “will become clear at CES what Samsung has been working on.”

Is branding the key to beating Apple?

Samsung’s popularity is growing, so subtlety may be the order of the day, and the alterations it does make could solely reflect its ongoing fight with Apple.

Samsung is the world’s number one TV manufacturer, and has retained that position for the last six years, while its Japanese competitors see falling sales and disappearing profits. If there’s one area that Samsung doesn’t need a boost, it’s in television.

It’s not hurting in mobile either, where it recently overtook Nokia as the biggest phone maker. That side of the business contributed more than half of Samsung’s profits for the third quarter of 2012, and it has recently announced it has sold 3 million Galaxy Note 2 devices and 30 million Galaxy S3 smartphones.

Interbrand called Samsung one of 2012’s top rising brands, and placed it ninth in its Best Global Brand list. Arch-rival Apple, however, was number two.

At the moment, Samsung is strong, but it needs something more if it’s to catch and pass Apple. Ongoing court battles – half-hearted apologies not withstanding – don’t help, and we’d speculate that a re-branding push is at least in part to help banish its recent $1 billion courtroom loss from the public’s memory. 

Samsung and Brandstream?

Samsung is rumored to have brought in Brandstream and ex-Nike and Starbucks branding mastermind Scott Bedbury to do the job. If so, it’s an intriguing choice. We contacted Brandstream to see if there was any truth in the rumor, and as one should expect, received a non-committal quote in reply:

“Samsung is uniquely poised to leverage decades of product innovation and go to another level. Great brands transcend their products by building deep emotional connections with their customers. That is Samsung’s opportunity and challenge.”

Say what you like about Apple, but it has certainly transcended its products and built deep emotional connections with customers. If Brandstream is about to work its magic with Samsung, this sounds exactly like a pitch that would have impressed the management. To succeed, it only has to look at Apple for inspiration – something it has often been accused of anyway – as 15 years ago, Apple was about to go bankrupt, and now it’s the most valuable tech company in the world.

In a way, Samsung started its re-branding when it launched the Galaxy S3, one of the first Android phones to truly match the iPhone for both anticipation and attention. Now it needs an innovative and aggressive brand campaign to keep the momentum going. Brandirectory highlights the enormity of Samsung’s task, saying it will need “some extremely convincing marketing to break Apple’s stronghold.”