I admit it – I called them for dead. I thought Blackberry were gone. I think a lot of us did. But if this article in AdAge is more than just hype on the part of the company and its ad agency, perhaps that call was premature. I am still cautious about whether Blackberry are growing or simply not fading, but the great news for brands that seem to be in a death spiral is that you can pull out, or at least halt the decline, if you’re prepared to make the changes needed. So what are Blackberry doing that others could learn from?
First of all – they shifted back to the audience they know and where they built their reputation. Refocusing on B2B from the trendy, shiny-object world of consumer tech is a drive back to the industry they know and that they are known in. The fish is back in the water. Re-identifying, re-finding and then re-engaging with the audience you have strayed from is fundamental.
Secondly – they worked the psychographics of that audience hard. Knowing that business is a serious matter, Blackberry have positioned their brand as a serious business tool with cornerstone strengths in security and privacy. In so doing, they’ve looked to de-risk the decision to stay with/return to their technology. Having re-engaged the people who used to love your brand, it’s critical to identify how their mindsets and priorities have changed in the interim. Fortunately for Blackberry, the needs for security and privacy have only increased in that time.
Thirdly – they shifted their leadership team, presumably to ensure that the actions of the business would better mirror the assertions of the brand in terms of customer-centricity. Obvious, yes – but worth remembering that brand alone won’t save a brand.
Single tactics don’t get you out of jail. The key to reviving a falling brand is to identify the key motivation(s) that is/are dragging you down, and then to implement a range of approaches that see you addressing that across a number of fronts. In this post from a couple of years ago, for example, I suggested that the more multipliers you can employ simultaneously, the greater the chances that you can resurrect your brand.
The power of multipliers in brand revival
In a market, where your brand has been painted into a corner – I might look to use these three approaches:
Think of the product in new ways X Change what it looks like X Distribute it in different ways
Or if the market you’ve traditionally targeted is treating your brand like a commodity and threatening to start a price war, I might combine these four:
Redefine who you want to be a brand to X Package it in different ways X Price point it in different ways X Wrap a different story around it
The average lifespan of a brand has declined rapidly in recent decades, so this situation is one that every brand will likely face at some point. The brands that will fight their way back are those that put their customers before their egos, admit things are working and look for the opportunities to re-engage. The brands that will disappear will be those that carry on doing what they are comfortable with in the mistaken belief that somehow the market will change its mind, or those that chase a rabbit down a hole in the belief that the bunny is big enough for everyone. The good news for Blackberry is they saw, and called, the wrong chase. Will that be enough to get them out of the hole? Time, and returns, will tell.
Photo of “Resurrection” taken by fady habib, sourced from Flickr