Blackberry Falls Prey to Me-Too Syndrome
October 22, 2009 ‐ 7 comments



Here at BrandCulture we've got a love/hate relationship with the Blackberry brand. Love the logo's use of negative space to turn B's into blackberries, as well as its suitability as a favicon.


Hate the name, which we believe is a success despite its complete lack of relevant meaning. And Blackberry's new marketing campaign, built on the idea of Love itself, falls squarely in the 'hate' category too.

Here's why, in terms so simple even Al and Laura Ries would embrace them: iPhone = Love; Blackberry = Work

Okay - it's not quite that simple, but what we basically mean is that iPhone is the brand associated with fun, touchy-feely, we don't need no stinkin' discounts, unconditional agape , and Blackberry has the market cornered on accessibility, utility, productivity and value.* But instead of capitalizing on a position of strength, Research In Motion is trying to fight their main competitor on that competitor's own turf - never an easy task, always an expensive one and in the case of Blackberry a decidedly inauthentic effort.

Some people truly, hopelessly, romantically love their Kitchen Aid's, their Air Jordans and their Camaros. Many other people purchase, prefer and are extremely loyal to – but do not love – their Osters, their Rockports and their Altimas. Blackberry falls into the latter camp, and it would avoid confusion and save marketing dollars by realizing that.

What's next Blackberry - white earbud headphones included with the next model of Storm?

*We don't have quantitative data to back this assertion up, but when's the last time you saw people camped around the block to buy a Blackberry?

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October 29, 2009 1:52 pm
Come on Rob - agreement doesn't make for good blogging, does it? Love, like, and hate are probably the wrong words for this discussion, and specific names are tough to agree on. Let us just restate our position this way: all other things being equal, if you can come up with a name that either innately expresses something about your brand, or that with a little bit of effort can give your brand dimension, that's a better choice than a name that means nothing. Thanks for the lively discussion, and death to the latest Blackberry campaign!
October 28, 2009 6:37 pm
Wow, thanks for the completeness of your response. I don't love all those names either...devil's advocate and all. But I don't really have anything against "empty vessel" names per se. I agree they're not appropriate in every situation, but I'd argue that the rationale/stories for a lot of names that "make sense" are probably completely lost on consumers anyway. Do Apple customers think about Newton, and do most Googlers know what a googol is? I suspect they don't---that they just have a gut like or dislike for the name. Or, as you've implied, they fall in love with the product/company, and that has a positive impact on their opinion of the name, not the other way around (hence all the post-rationalization in the naming industry). Anyway, I've hijacked your comments section talking about the name, which isn't the focus of your post. Let's get back to something we agree on: the "All You Need Is Love" ad stinks.
April Lainez de Brimer
October 28, 2009 3:01 pm
I am an avid blackberry user /lover and blackberry killer...I threw 3 out the window because the track ball stopped working. The ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE campaign is utterly confusing. What does 'love' have to do with blackberry? A brightly colored "new" version of the logo and a catchy Beatles tune won't convert an i phone user to a crackberry user. Sorry RIM, you are a copy cat. The blackberry is not sexy. It's functional. I refuse to get an Iphone because-well, they are way too cool for me. Blackberries are the Osterizer of phones and shouldn't even play with the I-phone FUN and SEXY category. After 8 blackberries, all I need is a blackberry without a faulty trackball. Not Love. I can find that berry on another tree.
October 28, 2009 2:21 pm
Thanks for the comment and the tip on iSnack 2.0 Rob. And as far as names we love or hate, we're speaking in an objective professional capacity of course. We tend not to like empty vessels, when with a bit of hard work you can develop a name that does something to underscore what your brand stands for. If your product is great enough or you spend enough money, you can make people respond to any name (Avaya, Accenture, Viagra, Prius et al.); but not all products are good enough, and not all organizations have enough resources to select a name that isn't relevant out of the gate. Apple: We always thought that drawing inspiration from Newton was good for a computer company, but we would have liked it better if they'd focused more on the 'tree of knowledge' angle (which would have worked brilliantly in parallel to the 1984 ad, don't you think?). Google: As we've written before, we think this was a missed opportunity, but it goes to show you that a bad name does not guarantee failure. Yahoo!: Don't mind it - we thought it was the fun alternative to AOL when it launched, and the name captured that. Sony and Kodak: It's hard to evaluate these iconic names separately from the products they stand for, but evaluating them purely as names - yes, we think they were weak. And lest you think we're only capable of criticism, here's some praise for names we think are (or were) effective: Kiss My Face - a line of skin care products Handspring - a PDA maker, now part of Palm Airborne - pure genius to tie an herbal supplement to staying healthy in-flight Oracle - a database that lets you see the future? Come on! Playground - leisure destination real estate development Prophet - for a brand consultancy that tries pretty hard to look like a management consultancy to name itself (homonymically at least) after money is just plain smart Any other questions?
October 28, 2009 10:09 am
Can we count iSnack 2.0 amongst the wannabes? (If you don't know what iSnack 2.0 is, be sure to look into it.) I agree with Roxana; this does remind me of Microsoft trying to force feed consumers something they know isn't true. I've blogged about it a few times (with increasing frustration) and it looks like RIM is doing the same thing here. Great post. But I don't hate the name "Blackberry" at all. I actually like it. Does hating names that lack "relevant meaning" mean you also dislike Apple, Google, Yahoo, Sony, Kodak, etc.? Or have you managed to rationalize all of those?
October 24, 2009 11:47 am
"... iPhone=love; Blackberry=work. " That's it. There are always going to be imitation brands or name brands developing copycat products that mimick the ones that became successful with other companies. In this case, yes, iPhone took the lead on a phenomonally unique technological development, and since then has been leading the race for all those that are trying to chase it for 1st place. Developing a similar product is not new. We've seen that since the beginning of the industrial market. It's not that depressing either because it's a norm. Everyone wants first place. Think about social networking. It started with Friendster, but then MySpace took charge, and now, Facebook is the champion. Copying products with a slightly innovative twist is just that. The same old thing but better, usually made by someone else. Unfortunately, what's sad, is the lack of innovative marketing strategies. Apple became so big with it's i-Products because of their unique marketing campaigns. They took something so technological and logical and associated with warm, fuzzy emotions. Even with their i-branding, a product that once belonged to the professional world, now became a part of the personal world. That's unique branding. It's unfortunate that so many others are now trying to win this race by copying Apple's marketing and branding strategies (yes, Blackberry and Microsoft being two of the main ones, namely because Apple is a direct competitor in market share, but there are others, as well. Just look at how many companies have now become i-Companies). For dedicated Apple fans, it's just a turn-off. For everyone else, it's like buying an American car and claiming it's better than a German car. Really? Of course, maintenance will be cheaper, but performance won't be better. There's just no comparison.
October 23, 2009 1:46 pm
Everyone's copying Apple. Microsoft is launching its first brick and mortar retail store, hailing it as "uniquely Microsoft." But take a look - it's hardly unique - seems like more drafting behind Apple's lead. First it was the "I'm a PC" campaign in response to the Justin Long "I'm a Mac" commercials. Now it's Microsoft's Answers Bar just like the Apple Store's Genius Bar, which has been around since 2001. Copycat brands and reactionary marketing campaigns will never engender consumer affinity or win leadership positioning. Boo Blackberry. Boo Microsoft.

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