HTC: You Ought to Know Who We Are

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After years of making cell phones that other companies rebrand and pass off as their own, HTC's looking for recognition to rival Nokia or LG.

The Taiwanese cell phone-maker, whose work can be found in the T-Mobile's MyTouch 3G and G1 phones, has already erected mysterious billboards with only the word "You" in large fonts that vary from one sign to the next. Before learning the story behind them via MocoNews, I passed a few of these in Los Angeles and had no idea what they meant.

HTC plans to replace the billboards today, swapping the "O" in the word "You" with one of its phones. The company's also launching a commercial that, instead of focusing on devices, highlights the ways in which your phone becomes part of your life. "And you want to share, and you want to think, and you are trying to forget." The ad ends with the tagline "Quietly Brilliant."

The emphasis on "You" is not unlike Yahoo's "You" ad that's currently airing. In fact, both ads are titled "Anthem." They're different ideas --Yahoo is pushing the personalization features of its Web site with an abstract commercial, while HTC's ad is direct in illustrating how we use cell phones -- but the timing couldn't be worse. When I first saw the mystery billboards, I guessed they belonged to Yahoo.

In any case, I think HTC deserves the appreciation. It's always miffed me that T-Mobile calls its latest Android-based HTC phone the "MyTouch 3G with Google," which conveys nothing to the buyer. Regardless of what people think of HTC (or don't, as the case may be), potential buyers should be able to factor the brand into their decisions.

Will the new strategy work? That depends on whether HTC can get phone carriers to start saying its name, too. HTC says its logo appears on 4 million phones, such as AT&T's HTC Fuze, but until we see more carriers flaunt HTC as a brand, the average "You" might not make the connection.

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