The New BlackBerry Brand


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Remember RIM – Research In Motion– the company that used to be a juggernaut of smartphones? They just introduced their long-delayed BlackBerry 10. In days gone by, we probably would have written their “long-awaited BlackBerry 10,” but given the numerous development problems and introduction postponements, there are fewer and fewer consumers out there “awaiting” this launch.

And they changed the company name to BlackBerry. It’s a move reminiscent of General Motors eight years ago when, after reporting a $1.1 billion loss, their remedy was to put the GM ‘Mark of Excellence’ logo on all models in an effort to link the corporation to its divisions. At that time it was, presumably, deemed a good idea because as the company pointed out with its usual mid-20th century bravado, “everyone was familiar with the GM brand!” Well RIM’s, we mean, BlackBerry’s president and CEO Thorstein Hein echoed this strategy, saying, “One brand, one promise.” Whatever that means.

The long delayed release is critical to BlackBerry’s attempt to re-enter the marketplace. Once the darling of company-issued smartphones, owning nearly a quarter of the marketplace in the U.S., they currently have about a 4% share. Yes, they claim to have a new operating system and things like one-swipe email access from any app, but time and technology wait for no man, or corporation.

Companies aren’t as sure as they used to be about supporting the BlackBerry, with many having moved to a BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Device) philosophy for employees, and employees, preferring different smartphones, having moved to the now-category juggernauts, Samsung and Apple.

Now there is an interesting strategic twist to all of this. BlackBerry is looking to position the company as the smartphone that allows you to shift from work mode to personal play with something they call “BlackBerry Balance.” That lets users keep business and personal information entirely separate, although that doesn’t show up as a high contributor to brand engagement and purchase in our current Customer Loyalty Engagement Index assessments.

Last year BlackBerry was ranked last by consumers (we’re currently aggregating the 2013 assessments). But we don’t think their position is likely to change much. The new models aren’t due to show up in the United States till March, and if past performance is anything to go by, consumers are not likely to hold their breadth for, or purchases of, new Blackberry smartphones.

The reality is that this could be the company’s last chance to remain a player in the category. If you are among the shrinking number of consumers who can’t wait until March, the company announced that the new model will appear in its first-ever Super Bowl commercial next Sunday.

You know what they say? If you can’t engage them, at least entertain them!

Robert Passikoff
Robert Passikoff, Founder and President of Brand Keys, Inc., pioneered research in loyalty and engagement, creating the Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index® ,the Sports Fan Loyalty Index® , and the Women's Wear Daily Fashion Brand Engagement Index® . His first best-selling book, Predicting Market Success provides marketers a 21st century perspective on predictive loyalty metrics. His newest book is The Certainty Principle: How to Guarantee Brand Profits in the Consumer Engagement Marketplace.


  1. It’s interesting that you chose the GM example as a comparison. I would have compared RIM to BMW. Like BMW, RIM has only ever had one product. If it were to branch out into other categories, then keeping the parent company name might have made sense. But the Blackberry is the only thing it’s ever made. So from a brand management perspective, abandoning the name RIM makes total sense.

    It’s worked for BMW, where the only thing that changes is the model number, implying that whichever model you buy, it’s still a BMW. Whether it’s a 3 series or a 5 series, it has the same ingredients, the same attention to detail etc. Why confuse people by naming the models differently?

  2. Yes, I chose GM, another company who didn’t (at the time) understand their brand, unlike BMW.

    BMW — yes, one brand — but always did well in the marketplace. Never had to struggle for survival and have never lost so much share over so short a period of time as RIM. So, pretty much the only thing they have in common with (now) BlackBerry is a single brand name.

    The likelihood is that RIM wanted to jettison the strange name with no meaning (if there was any it was a legacy of lost market share, poor planning, and late [and later] product introductions) and go with what they had — a kind of “mostly harmless brand that they thought they could revive.

    We’ll see.


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