HTC needs to figure out what the heck it's doing, pronto

Having great products is only part of the picture

That, however, sounds very un-Chou.

What's my name again?

If there's one thing Apple has really nailed down, it's a brand. You can argue the merits of its products (and many other things), but there's no denying Apple is one of the world's most recognized companies. Coke may have ruled the 20th century, but the 21st belongs to Cupertino.

It isn't alone in solid brand recognition however, as Google, Microsoft and T-Mobile all have successfully conveyed, with varying degrees of success, company values, logos, colors and product lines.

HTC could use a dose of this, without a doubt. It's taking some steps to personalize its marketing, releasing on Aug. 14 a new ad spot staring uber-cool Robert Downey Jr. The reaction was generally positive, and while the ad took a tongue-in-cheek look at what "HTC" stands for, it struck on a deeper cord than oddball humor.

HTC
You're confusing us, HTC!

What does HTC stand for? Not the letters – we liked "hipster troll carwash"– but what are the company's values? Can it refresh the used-by-others green and black color scheme? What story is its products trying to tell?

Downey Jr. tells us HTC stands for "Happy Telephone Company," a voice over purrs "Here's to Change," and it's anything you want it to be, according to the mustachioed gentleman, but we think HTC could stand to gravitate towards a more concrete message, one that resonates with consumers.

That takes strategic planning and long-term vision. Bringing Iron Man in is the first step in a larger refreshing process, we're sure, but HTC should think long and hard about what it is and what it wants to be and sell us on that idea, before we stop wanting it completely.

The leadership question

Finally, is getting rid of Chou the answer? It may not be as simple as that.

Chou is still considered the heart of the company, and HTC said in a statement sent to Reuters that it's committed to his leadership. It credited "Peter's vision and leadership" in making the One product family a well-received entrant, so at least publically, it's sticking with Chou for now.

The CEO has said he has no plans to leave, and according to Reuters' insiders, there's no clear internal successor anyway. That is reportedly breeding poor morale besides, you know, the whole berating thing.

So what's HTC to do, if its flawed leader isn't going anywhere?

As higher-up tensions die down (Reuters noted the "old guard has re-established" itself at the company) HTC is best to buckle down, plot what its future looks like, and figure out how to get there. If Chou needs convincing, then find out what it takes to get the message across loud and clear.

It doesn't have to the be No. 1 phone maker in the world, but the way it's going now, we're not even sure if it could be a viable phone maker in three to five years.

Thankfully, HTC is making great products, and the One is a strong foundation for HTC to build on. Strengthening its core offerings, building better brand identity and doing whatever it takes to remedy what sounds like a pretty awful leadership situation are the other keys to get HTC's ship sailing forward.

Take a look in the mirror, HTC, and get it together ASAP.