There is no doubt that the BlackBerry brand is a recognized and respected brand. Even during the disaster that was 2012 it remained in the top 20 most valued technology brands around the world according to the Brandz Top 100 list. It did, however, shave off 75% of that value but it was still there.
So when CEO Thorsten Heins walked on stage yesterday and announced that RIM is no more, they have adopted the BlackBerry brand as their company name I nearly fell off my seat. This is the big news – forget the phones – RIM is dead, BlackBerry lives and they are putting everything into that name.
And I think this is suicide.
How is this a good idea? In this Wired article, Russ Meyer, global strategy director of Siegel+Gate says “Simplification helps brands get closer to customers, and gets rid of stuff in between, We think it’s probably a good thing. It makes a lot of sense.”
This makes sense as much as it would if Apple announced they were changing their name to the iPod when it was first launched. Think about where Apple was right before that hardware was released? Written off for dead. A computer line that owned less than 3% of the industry. Needing to be propped up by a $130 million infusion from their chief competitor in order for Microsoft to not really be a monopoly. They were dead, then they released the iPod and the rest is history. What if Apple changed their name at that point? What would the consequences have been if they put all their branding clout and engineering power into one single product?
Enter RIM, er, BlackBerry.
The fact they did this, changed their name to their lead product that has suffered a catastrophic collapse, means to me they are an irrational, reactive, one-trick, smartphone company. One of their biggest challenges is that they ONLY have one product, the BlackBerry, where their competitors have many billion dollar divisions that support innovation in the mobile group (see: The BlackBerry Disadvantage), so why admit that by making this move?
A solution was at hand
Keep the RIM name, like Apple and Google and Samsung and Nokia did but be smart about the brands built underneath it. Split the smartphone enterprise and consumer product categories (BlackBerry and RaspBerry?) so there is a clear difference (even only in mindshare), and have the tablet division as PlayBook.
This is a huge step backwards from a company that is reeling. Change is necessary, vision is necessary but this move? Well, it sounds to me that they are setting themselves up to be a much simpler acquisition – it would be easy to roll “BlackBerry” under the DELL or Lenovo brands. If not, well, they are now a one trick pony in an industry dominated by massive, multi-skilled world dominant brands and changing their name won’t make a lick of difference.
** The RIP RIM logo was provided by Dom Coballe, co-founder of N-Product from this blog post he wrote about RIM. He was also a previous guest on UNTETHER.tv: Deckster: How to design, manufacture, fund and brand a high-end mobile accessory company – with co-founder Dom Coballe**