[A Lesson in Branding]: BlackBerry, (No RIM)

Anyone who aspires to become the best of the best in their industry [must] know that you have to work hard and keep learning as much as you can, as often as you can. With that said, I’ve been reading this awesome book called The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding and it’s helping me to rethink the way that I look at some of the brands around me and the strategies they implement in their respective fields. Last week was the Super Bowl, which is always a great time to see what companies are planning to execute next, and among all of the brand extensions and new products, BlackBerry launched their TV spot for the new Z10. Check it out.

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A lot has changed for BlackBerry right? After seeing this commercial and watching part of the press conference last week, it’s clear to me that BB is undergoing a major rebrand. And now that I’m armed with some new perspectives on the world of branding, it’s pretty interesting to track how specific brand strategies fall in line with the [immutable] laws.

Keep reading to take a look at my personal observations on the [BlackBerry] brand revamp.

Law #1: Contraction - The first law suggests that narrowing the focus of your brand leads to growth, while expanding it into too many categories can lead to a loss in power.

  • I don’t think BlackBerry cares too much about that. It’s moving outside of the [strictly business] genre and into more of a lifestyle arena. The new Z10 comes with two profiles: a professional mode & a personal mode. While they keep the areas distinct in their own way, they do push a work-life balance element that I haven’t seen them dabble with before. Taking market share from Apple and Google, huh?

Law #7: Quality - Companies don’t necessarily need to offer “better” products, but rather products that incorporate their own uniquely branded details to set them apart from competitors.

  • BlackBerry, in my eyes, was always the convenient, durable, “to-the-point” phone meant to help one stay productive & efficient. I wonder if the race to keep up with younger tech companies that offer more social, personal, and “higher-tech” elements will pay off or just cause them to blend in with the rest?

Law #13: The Company - These laws discuss the importance a name plays in the branding game and how aligning your company with the brand can help or hinder your strategy.

  • BlackBerry’s parent company has decided to drop their former name, RIM (Research in Motion), and just use BlackBerry. I’d say this is a part of an effort to really elevate the [BlackBerry] brand in every way, pushing it past just being the core product offering and establishing it as the overall DNA of the company.

Law #15: The Siblings - These laws explain the benefit of creating new brands for new markets, rather than trying to stretch out one established brand to cover more territory.

  • I wonder if the minds at RIM–sorry, BlackBerry!–ever considered maintaing the RIM identity and creating a totally new brand that speaks to a younger or less business-focused consumer instead?  I think the Z10 is a pretty solid product and, with the right PR and a well-positioned campaign, probably could’ve stood strong as its own entity. Instead, they risk facing criticism from existing BlackBerry users that love their simple BB, in addition to having to deal with the skeptics that still think a BlackBerry can’t be used outside of Corporate America.

Law #19: Consistency x Law #20: Change x Law #22: Singularity

  • Law 19 says stick with what you do best, 20 talks about taking major care and consideration when trying to change your brand, and 22 is short and simple: establish a singular idea in the mind of your consumers and own that space. BlackBerry has certainly had a consistent and unique piece of the smartphone market, which I think they cater to well, but could it be risking that with the rebrand? I’m confident that the company has thought it through very carefully, but it will be interesting to see how things play out over the next quarter.

I love when I grow to see the branding process from a different perspective. As you can see, there’s a lot to consider. Hopefully this will be the resurrection that BlackBerry needs to step out of its [suit and tie] and into the rapidly growing millennial market.