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Geoffrey Frost, a man with marketing in his DNA, decided on an unusual strategy to restore the Motorola brand in the hyper competitive handset arena: He set out to win in the category based on design.

Motorola not only brought sex appeal to the humble box known as the cellphone with its ultrasleek Razr device, but also contemporized the naming of cellphones by dropping the technical and numerical names often offered by competitors, and even some of his own products. Razr is pronounced "razor" and the adopted spelling is akin to today's youthful text messaging or Internet messaging shorthand. Other phones using the device include Pebl, for the pebble, an almost oval-shaped phone with a spring-powered opener.

That tack worked. In 2000 and 2001, Motorola was a distant No. 2 in the North American market but now claims a 36% share and the No. 1 handset brand sold at three of the nation's top four carriers. Motorola also indicates it is picking up steam in overseas markets such as Latin America and Europe, and other markets where longtime leader Nokia dominates.

Mr. Frost, who grew up in New York, is the son of an account exec at Young & Rubicam. After brief stints at several New York and London agencies, Nike hired him. It was perhaps that Nike experience which led him to view the handset marketing wars as a three-way basketball game where one team-Motorola, Nokia or Samsung-is on top at different points. He also realized, while working for one of the world's most iconic brands, "Cool isn't an end in itself," he says. "When you fall in love with your own cool factor, you fail."

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