RIM rebrands to BlackBerry

January 30, 2013

Research in Motion becomes its hero brand, BlackBerry.

At its BlackBerry 10 launch, Research in Motion surprised its crowd with more than a new smartphone operating system. RIM is now rebranding itself by adopting the identity of its hero brand, BlackBerry. Having once achieved significant success with its smartphones, RIM's products failed to innovate and fell behind those of its competitors. Many tech industry experts feel that after years of declining sales, BlackBerry is in a do-or-die situation with its new BlackBerry 10 line of smartphones.

By dropping the “RIM” name, the organization is taking a step to recognize the significance of this inflection point. The rebrand seems to be an effort to break away from its recent history as it embraces a new hopeful future. Ironically, many consumers likely feel that the BlackBerry brand itself has become dated and conjures images of clunky QWERTY keyboards. Regardless, from here on out, all equity — positive or negative — will flow directly to the BlackBerry brand. Doubling down on Blackberry heightens expectations, and it also likely seals the fate of the brand. If the new line of phones fails to gain traction, the BlackBerry brand may go down with this last attempt to regain its former stature.

The next few weeks will be an exciting time for the refreshed brand, with a number of plans in the works:

New tagline
BlackBerry also introduced what appears to be a new tagline: “One brand. One promise.” This descriptor will likely only be used for a limited time to call attention to the company's transition to its new identity and renewed focus on its products. However, it may also spark confusion/curiosity as to what BlackBerry's promise actually is.

SuperBowl ad
The company has also been generating buzz for its planned SuperBowl ad, which has been highly anticipated as a mainstream introduction to the new line of phones. The TV spot will probably also be leveraged as a way to reintroduce the BlackBerry brand.

Product ambassador?
At the launch, Alicia Keys was also introduced as the brand's global creative director. Based on her website, Keys will play a very active role and “work closely with app developers, content creators, retailers, carriers and the entertainment community to further shape and enhance the BlackBerry 10 platform.” The brand will also likely utilize the music artist to refresh its image.

Taking a step back, as a whole, these efforts appear to be a fairly formulaic response to deliberately turn the page: new products, brand, tagline, celebrity spokesperson and Super Bowl ad. Is it too formulaic, or is BlackBerry simply leaving no stone unturned? Again, it just solidifies the organization's commitment to its new products. Also, less visible to outsiders — but no less important — the rebrand marks an opportunity for the organization to refresh its culture and way of doing business for its 12,000 employees. If the brand manages to get through this tumultuous period, the organization will have an opportunity to move forward, thrive and continue to innovate.

By fully embracing BlackBerry as the company's identity, the fate of the brand now truly rests on its products and the company’s ability to meet its “one promise.” The next chapter for BlackBerry could represent one of the greatest tech revivals since Apple, or a last hurrah before the final drop in its monumental fall.

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