Lenovo and Motorola: Two brands or none?

Lenovo's purchase of the smartphone maker seems bold. Yet doesn't it present a huge challenge for Lenovo -- polishing its own brand, as well as Motorola's?

Lenovo hired a man of space. Lenovo/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Ask a real person what they think of Lenovo, and I fancy they'll say: "Oh, they're all right."

Or perhaps: "They're around a lot. They work. Um, yeah."

Few would leap in the air, shake a fist and say: "Lenovo? Oh, yeah. I won't have anything else in my house."

While the company sells generally well-received products, it doesn't yet enjoy the emotional connection of an Apple or a Samsung. New products coming from Lenovo don't engender rabid excitement. There is no Lenovo-virus.

You might have missed this, but Lenovo launched a campaign in 2011 called "For Those Who Do." This would have presumably been contrasted with the zeitgeist of the majority of us who don't.

The doers didn't seem to be moved.

No company spends Hollywood money to hire Ashton Kutcher when its image is already set.

Some might find it optimistic to place your fate in a face that has already been associated with selling another tech brand -- Nikon.

Was your heart lifted by the first ad the company produced for its Yoga tablet? Yes, it featured Kutcher. Oh, you missed it entirely. Ah.

This is a challenge not to be underestimated. For all the good business decisions and interesting products Lenovo has made, it still hasn't entered into the US consciousness as a necessary brand to consider.

Now Lenovo has bought Motorola.

Here's a brand that used to enjoy some deep commitment. When Google bought Motorola and some promising phones were released, Motorola positioned itself as the non-Apple.

Apple was a big, fat slob and Motorola was the wily, people-oriented, cheaper and more modern alternative.

Not everyone at Motorola loved the ads. But at least they managed to excite a little. The phones, however, didn't sell a lot.

So now Lenovo has an interesting problem. It claims to be following a two-brand strategy. But neither brand is truly at the forefront of enough human minds.

Neither brand is a must. Neither brand says: "You know you want me. You know you've always wanted me."

And it's not as if real people will be bothered enough to link Lenovo with Motorola, creating some seductive halo effect.

So now the pressure will be on designers at both companies to produce tantalizing products and on marketers at both companies to make the two brands irresistible.

That's a challenge for the thinkers, not just the doers.

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