Branding & perception; a look at the Light Phone.

The Light Phone was a crowdfunded device released back in 2017 (with the original crowdfunding campaign ending in 2015). It was created around a very simple concept; smartphones have too many distractions, so the Light Phone won’t have any.

The original Light Phone could only make and receive phonecalls. There was no other functionality, it couldn’t even text or store contacts.

The Light Phone company then moved onto their second device, the Light Phone 2, which released in 2019. This device had slightly more features, including a phonebook, being able to texts and an alarm clock. They’re looking to introduce a few other useful features in the coming months, including a taxi app, music and maps.

I’m assuming they haven’t released these features because:

  1. They’re probably trying to negotiate with companies like Uber and Lyft to figure out which company wants the exclusive rights to the Light Phone users. I imagine they’re looking for a cut of the profits or something in exchange for being the “Light Phone’s exclusive taxi service”.
  2. The app developers need to make a version that works with the Light Phone’s ink display and UI.

The phones themselves aren’t particularly exciting as devices. The original phone (in my opinion) made more sense then its sequel, as the original was just for when you want to avoid receiving notifications (going on a walk, at a restaurant, etc) but want to be contactable in the event of an emergency, whereas the second phone tries to be a standalone device.

Realistically, the Light Phone 2 doesn’t really have any benefits over using a basic Nokia. In terms of functionality, the Nokia is almost identical but you can pick one up for £7.50 from Argos.

However, unlike the Nokia, the Light Phone 2 gets a lot of buzz from the tech and indie community. And, of course, this is because of their genius branding and advertising.

Looking at the Light company’s branding you’d think they were a cutting edge smartphone developer or lifestyle brand. “Designed to be used as little as possible” their website proudly proclaims, over big imagery of landscapes and tranquil settings.

Dumping your smartphone won’t automatically make you the type of person who goes for walks or sits in a park and just listens to the wind; but their website makes you think it will.

Their brand and messaging also consistently questions whether smartphones are a positive influence on our lives. It never directly states “our phone will make you happier”, but the implication is definitely apparent.

By combining these messages which we usually associate with wellbeing brands and the minimalism we associate with Apple (and other technology brands), Light manages to make an extremely boring device/phone into a fashion statement.

It’s this messaging and branding that secured over £2.5 million in funding/presales through Indiegogo.

Light and Nokia produce similar devices, but Light manages to make their limited functionality a much more desirable feature for ages between 18 and 30. If Nokia were interested, they could acquire Light in order to improve their sales with those demographics (as I imagine Nokia has more appeal for the older generations who just don’t want a smartphone).

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