Brands are just ideas
Most of us assume brands are tangible things, we associate them with
companies, and people. In reality, brands are just ideas; just like a
patent, brands can be sold. As the name implies, a brand is a marking, a
logo, a name, a bunch of ideas and concepts. They routinely move from
one hand to another without anybody noticing.
Let us imagine KoldBox, some hypothetical refridgerator brand. That brand was founded in the early 1900s, it was owned by Arthur Kold, the original inventor. In 1930, the company was inherited by his children. The brand was successful, they made everything proudly in Ohio, where the company was founded.
Unfortunately, the Kold children didn't care about their father's business and sold it to an automotive company in 1935. That company, WheelBox, needed the technology to make air conditioning units for their cars. WheelBox continued to sell fridges under the KoldBox brand, but much of the manufacturing was consolidated within their existing factories. Most employees were let go, and manufacturing was moved to Texas.
In the 90s, the brand was sold again to Le Trollux, some European company who decided to move all the manufacturing to Brazil. The brand was sold again, and again since then.
Today, refridgerators sold under the KoldBox brand are made by the same factories making 10 other competing brands. On the surface, we feel unaffected by those changes, the brand remained superficially the same, marketed as a family company, the pride and joy of Ohio. After all, the changes were slow, nobody noticed.
Today, manufacturing is in Brazil, executives are in London and some people in Ohio still think their brand new KoldBox fridge is a sane investment in the local community. The real investment, was the brand, and it benefited a whole bunch of people far from Ohio.
Products are just ideas
Those phones we carry everywhere, they are almost unique. While they are
marketed under a single product name, they actually change almost every
year. Between 2019 and 2020, two people buying the same "product" could
end up with two devices made in completely different places, with
The "product" according to the brand's website, seems to be the same throughout its lifecycle, but it isn't. The same concept is more obvious with cars. Because the investment is more significant, consumers tend to pay more attention and manufacturer made it obvious and market around it: the 2019 model is different from the 2018 model.
However, many brands will use that strategy, and sell a broad range of products to consumers under the same umbrella because it is much cheaper than introducing a brand new product. The packaging often remains the same.
Our goal is to break down products by generally observable differences, not from the marketing standpoint. On Variant, a phone from spring 2020 will likely be a different product from one from fall 2019, even if they are identical to the untrained eye.
What you have in your pocket, is a variant
Let's dig a little deeper, and assume we have already established that the
2019 model of your phone is different from the 2018 model. Now, within the
same season or year, you would assume two phones would be identical. You
would be wrong.
For one, the manufacturer is likely going to make revisions to their design as production progresses. That one chip obtained from Japan for the first batch is no longer available, so they switch to a Chinese manufacturer. The glass screen that was made from a specific type of Silica until revision 3 is now made from a cheaper version.
Variant and its community make an effort to inventorize the manufacturers and product variants, we want you to know what the brands aren't telling you. A brand/product is what you are being sold, a variant is what you get.