The need for Windows laptop branding

Summary:We've got MacBooks and Chromebooks, brands that tell the consumer what they are and who makes them. Then there's Windows laptops, the segment without a brand.

Windows laptops
Image: Microsoft

Branding is everything in business. A successful brand resonates with prospective buyers, calls to mind the company that makes the product, and is used in good marketing campaigns to create the desired image for the purchaser. We see these brands in the laptop space. MacBooks come from Apple and Chromebooks come from Google. Unfortunately, there's not a brand for the Windows laptop segment, and that puts it at a disadvantage.

The MacBook brand has been around since the laptops were white plastic models. Apple has been able to leverage marketing around that one brand for years, and it's worked well for the company. There are now MacBook Airs and Pros, but they are all MacBooks. One brand for a whole product line.

The argument can be properly made that the MacBook brand is natural since all of the products it represents come from Apple. That's true, but Google has successfully established the Chromebook brand even though it only makes one of the laptops the brand represents. The other Chromebooks, made by HP, Lenovo, Samsung, and Acer, also fall under the Chromebook brand.

With the Chromebook, all advertising pushes the brand no matter if the push comes from Google or the actual laptop vendor. It says Chromebook on the product, and that instantly makes the prospective buyer think of Google and the Chrome platform. 

This single branding is what Windows laptops are missing. There might be a tiny Windows logo somewhere on the product but there's no brand to represent the product. It's always been that way, and that needs to change.

Microsoft would be wise to come up with a brand, WinBook or the like, that can be promoted so that it comes to represent in consumers' minds a laptop with Windows. This is even more true today, with Windows 8 devices appearing the are both tablets and laptops, than in the past when most laptops were pretty much alike.

The new class of Windows devices, sometimes referred to as convertibles, hybrids, and most recently 2-in-1's, need a common brand that consumers come to think of as Windows laptops. Having a unified brand would make all of the offerings coming from Microsoft's partners seem to be a consistent product line. It will be tough for Microsoft to get all the OEMs to play along but it could incentivize them to do so.

A single brand like WinBook or the like would start to paint a mental image of the Windows laptop for prospective buyers. That's a good thing as currently there is no such brand for them to latch onto. Intel tried UltraBook but the average consumer is not aware of it. That's probably because Intel wasn't consistent in its marketing and tried to make it a narrow segment of the total Windows laptop space.

Maybe WinBook is not ideal for this brand, if you have a better one leave it in the comments. It needs to be simple, distinctive, and representative of the Windows laptop space. Something that Microsoft could pitch to the masses to build brand recognition. The folks in Redmond can still pitch their own Surface brand, but they also need a broader brand for all Windows laptops.

See also:

Topics: Mobility, Laptops, Microsoft Surface, Windows 8

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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