RIM – the troubled makers of Blackberry – are meant to be refocussing the operation to arrest massive losses and try to save the business.
However, looking at two recent industry reports, they’re turning into a Janus that will achieve neither.
What the hell is going on?
On one hand, we have a report on today’s Marketing Week website (written by Lucy Handley) which uses RIM as a case study for a corporation trying to turn itself around. Lucy’s ‘Brands On The Turn’ box out states:
[RIM] is hoping it can turn the company around by focusing on business-minded people rather than consumers and has used the line ‘Think different, act different’ – a direct reference to the ‘think different’ line originally used by Apple.
However, zoom over to Matthew Chapman, writing for Marketing Magazine, and we find a very different story:
The eight-part Summer Daze with BlackBerry series, produced by Monkey Kingdom, focuses on several 18- to 25-year-olds and will be a ‘structured reality’ show in a similar style to The Only Way is Essex and Made in Chelsea.
Back up a month, and Marketing Week carried this:
In the same announcement, RIM’s chief executive Thorsten Heins, said BlackBerry was to tailor its brand to focus on its core audience of business people after failing to compete with rivals such as Apple and Samsung.
Head a month further back, and you’ll find Lara O’Reilly telling us:
BlackBerry has now announced plans to temper down its involvement in the consumer market altogether, leaving its legions of loyal teenage BBM fans wondering which brand they should turn to for their next upgrade.
There’s a problem here.
Either the two industry journals are being given two different stories, or Blackberry are about to surge of the rim of defeat by losing sight of their core, refocussed, objectives and blowing an entire wad of cash on completely the wrong demographic.
18-25 year olds aren’t what I think of when someone says “Business people”. Yes, there are some great young entrepreneurs, but at that age, most are still crawling out of university and scrambling their way up the ladder.
Do serious, business minded, people watch structure tripe like TOWIE? Perhaps some do – but I guarantee they’re not thinking about their business at the time.
And given that Blackberry state (on 30th March 2012) that they’re tempering down their involvement in the consumer market altogether, this leaves us with only one inescapable conclusion:
Blackberry are looking desperate.
Hell, who wouldn’t be having posted losses of £78.5million in a single quarter.
But the answer is not to flail about – which is the impression I get from their bi-directional (and I don’t use that in a good way) ‘strategy’.
Consumers – whether private citizens or business people – don’t like companies that smell of desperation.
In fact, it’s this smell that can cause the vultures to descend even earlier than they would otherwise.
What Blackberry need to do is simple.
They need to step back, take a breath and work out what the hell it is that they’re doing.
Then they need to do it firmly, logically and with conviction.
I said that this is simple. And it is.
I didn’t say it would be easy.
But until they kill their Janus strategy, they’re running out of options, time and consumer patience faster than they’re running out of money.
Neil Hopkins is a Marketing and Branding Theorist at heart, and a Marketing Communications Manager by day. His blog – interacter – is the primary location he shares insight and information relating to marketing, branding and advertising strategy.
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Featured image licensed under Creative Commons on Flickr – Danny McL’s photostream.