Today I’ve been following RIM’s Blackberry 10 announcements and one of the first things they announced was that they were rebranding the company from RIM to BlackBerry.
Renaming any company is a big undertaking but rebranding one that is the scale of RIM is a massive job. Not only are there marketing materials to worry about but there is everything from references to the company name in documentation and code, links, legal documents, partner agreements and materials, packaging, and even in the case of RIM, their stock listing which will change from RIMM to BBRY on the Nasdaq. That’s a big investment in time, money and resources.
Is renaming the company worth it?
According to me – it absolutely is. Here’s why
1/ BlackBerry already is the brand – The device you are holding in your hand says “Blackberry.” Most of the folks I know (outside of Waterloo anyway) already refer to the company as Blackberry. The product names – from the devices, to BlackBerry Messenger, the BlackBerry Server, the BlackBerry operating system are all under the same BlackBerry brand. Not everyone knows RIM but everyone already knows BlackBerry.
2/ RIM as an additional brand is confusing - I’ve worked with companies that are worried that not having a parent brand that is different from the product brand will be somehow limiting. The thinking goes that if they want to launch a new product, they will be able to have a new name for that product under the company name and this will avoid confusion. However there is a cost of maintaining different brands, not just from a legal point of view but from a cognitive point of view in the mind of the customer. In RIM’s case for example BlackBerry already means the device, the operating system, the app store and the instant messaging app. So what’s a RIM again? RIM (sorry, BlackBerry) already has a single brand that covers multiple product lines and customers aren’t confused by that. The only confusing thing was the RIM umbrella. Changing the overall name to BlackBerry removes that confusion.
3/ It helps to signal a change in direction for the company – Much like when Steve Jobs announced that Apple was dropping “Computer” from the company name as a signal of their shift away from traditional computers toward tablets and phones, changing the name now helps to reinforce the idea that BlackBerry is a new company and materially different from the old RIM. This is clearly reflected in RIM CEO Thorsten Heins remarks at the announcement where he reiterated that they had “reinvented the company.”
4/ The RIM brand was kinda geeky – OK, I spent a lot of time in Waterloo so I still remember when people used to refer to it as “Research In Motion” so perhaps I am showing my age/Waterloo engineering background with this one but for a company that is pushing further into the consumer space, the whole “Research” thing didn’t exactly shout “mainstream usability.” BlackBerry is a just a better name in my opinion.
So as a strategic marketing decision I think the RIM rebrand is a great one.
What do you think? Will you miss the RIM brand? Do you think the rebrand is worth the time and energy?