Apples, oranges and the real estate marketing fruit bowl

You may know HTC as the object of a lot of smart phone industry buzz.

What you may also know is that their phones – Evo, Aria, Eris and Incredible – are taking this industry by storm.

They’re kicking Nokia’s nuts and threatening Apple’s attempt to corner the market.

How is that happening? I decided to do a little checking. Seems they’re doing a lot right. More on that below. It also made me think it would be instructive to pull this brand through a cosmic wormhole and ask the question…

What would HTC look and talk like if they were a real estate company?

I imagined the Website. For starters their positioning copy might evoke the dream of making a phone call. Or attempt to convey, without substantiation, how much of a leader they are in the smart phone industry. They might even take a cue from a well-known east coast real estate brokerage and claim to have the best phone Website in the world. Or, maybe, they’d ditch positioning copy altogether in favor of dozens of square boxes filled with different fonts representing every department within HTC.

If HTC were a brokerage, their Website would have a marquee advertising the 70 years of experience they have that takes users to a page filled with large blocks of text about who they were before most users were born.

Their Website navigation would include things like “Calling” and “Answering” that point to pages containing content for users looking for indispensable advice on what a phone is. How to dial a number. There may be a starburst graphic highlighting “Muting.”

There would be links to features like texting. But real estate HTC wouldn’t call it texting. They’d come up with something clever like “Touch and Go” or “HTC’s Digital Word Send.”

There would be a page where users could search for HTC phone reps in their area with canned content about about every representative along with images taken by the reps themselves. Some images might be clear, others might not. Many might be representative of reps as they were years ago before life, age and wisdom left the indelible mark of honesty on their faces. Some might pose with phones. Others leaning against a tree. And of course, there’d be the oddball rep who cut-and-pasted their head onto a cell tower with rays of signal shooting out of each ear.

Users would only be able to view certain retail shops due to a bizarre policy about co-mingling information important to users.

If HTC were a real estate company, would you buy anything from them?

Macintosh apples to mandarin oranges

I hear the rumblings. “Davison, come on, you’ve gone too far. You can’t compare a real estate brokerage to a Taiwanese phone manufacturer. That’s apples to our oranges.”

Really? Well, step into my fruit bowl for a moment.

I can’t recall any college professor of mine ever segmenting any one industry from any other when it came to the high level mechanics of branding and communications.

In my time on Madison Avenue I never heard anyone cite the real estate industry as being so magnificently different that it must defy all the rules marketers hold dear.

I know everything you need to do right with digital marketing and branding is already on display across a myriad of industries.

You are not alone in your possession of internal greatness, historical legacy, and intellectual mojo. Just like you, HTC loves to tell the world how great it is. And they do, in a way that’s relevant to the customer.

What HTC really did

HTC Home Page image

They took everything they are and compressed it down to one word.

The only one that matters.


In a simple slide show on its home page, HTC tells a perfect story. You are the star of that story, a narrative of what HTC knows you want from your smart phone experience.

Superpowers. A bad ass camera. A fast Internet. A ridiculously big screen.

This is the conventional box of wisdom inside of which most of American business operates. It is the box too many in real estate resist entering. Sure, we spin tales too – of dreams delivered, awards won, pets loved, leadership amassed, legacy accumulated –  things that could carry a ton of meaning if we would simply clarify why any of it matters to the people with whom we wish to connect.

What did HTC do?

They built great phones. And they built a better gateway through which you and I can discover them. They’re driving a massive market response as a result.

You’re a real estate company. An apple. They’re a phone company. An orange. You’re both fruit

‘Nuff said.