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Courageous Rebranding: RIM's Poetic Last Stand

Image Courtesy: arrayexception (Creative Commons)

 It’s not just the beginning of a new chapter for Research In Motion (RIM), but the start of a whole new book. The smartphone giant has decided to rebrand itself after its flagship product, BlackBerry – an undeniably bold step for the technology firm.

For years, BlackBerry has faced declining market share, mainly as a result of new technologies, unappealing product developments and changing customer preferences (think of the move from a QWERTY keyboard to a touchscreen as an example).  Faced with massive financial loss and a brand in decline, RIM essentially had three options: stay in the market, divest or liquidate. With the imminent launch of the latest range of BlackBerrys and a new OS, it’s obvious which strategy they’ve adopted. And in order to support this strategic direction, they’ve rebranded.

What’s In A Brand Name, Anyway?

The question many have asked is whether RIM’s rebranding holds any weight. Brand names are a marketing fundamental and they capture everything a company or product stands for in a compact fashion, they’re the ‘TL;DR’ of all the elements that make up a brand identity system. BlackBerry is a brand name that is full of familiarity and meaning; RIM, on the other hand, is not (not to most people anyway).

For years RIM has remained separate to BlackBerry, a strategy I’ve always thought as a benefit to them. In having an identity that is separate to that of its product, RIM’s brand is protected should that product fail.

But will it matter to consumers at the end of the day? While BlackBerry is a globally recognised brand, RIM has very little equity. RIM, with their one product certainly doesn’t equate, these days, to the likes of Samsung or Apple.

Essentially, the company is now associating itself with a brand whose product is shunned by the very market it’s trying to target. It sounds quite strange when you break it down.

RIM’s Rebranding – Brilliant Or Bizarre?

Many, however, have lauded RIM’s rebranding exercise as a brilliant move. But why should we care what RIM calls itself at the end of the day? When all is said and done, it’s the quality of their product that matters, both in reality and in the minds of their customers. 

Their rebranding, then, is ultimately an inspiring narrative. They’re putting it all on the line and telling a story in the process. Rather than distancing themselves from an ailing brand, they’re throwing everything they have behind it. It’s their last stand, and it’s an exciting, poetic move. But as romantic as it is, it remains to be seen whether they’ll be the ‘comeback kid’ we give standing ovation to from the bleachers, or whether they’ll crash and burn, only to see the world move on?

What do you think of RIM’s bold new move? Let us know in the ‘Make a comment’ block below.

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