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Blackberry Repositioning Strategy


Submitted By akankshagoldi
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Blackberry – Brand repositioning strategy.
Through this short paper, I would like to further comprehend and propose Blackberry’s strategy towards repositioning in the present potential market.
In 2009, Fortune magazine declared Blackberry as one of the fastest growing brands in the world, but within a period of 3-4 years, there market share dropped to 2%. As previously discussed, some main reasons were late entry into consumer/lifestyle segment without outstanding and cutting edge gadgets and services, inability to create a clear brand image in the minds of consumers resulting in loss of appeal, delayed improvisation and updating the technology of its very successful devices and finally the wrong move of diverting towards B2C instead of broadening and capturing existing B2B target segment.
The competitive advantage of Blackberry in the corporate world is gone and Blackberry is not good enough to compete in a consumer market. That is why they are forced to start a worldwide repositioning strategy, since their brand image is already diluted now.
Therefore, the aim of repositioning would be to establish clear objectives (long-term & short term), change consumer perception, gain market share, fulfill corporate goals, enhance and adapt core competencies, creates barriers to entry for competitors and exploit the USP of the brand. Let’s look at some key aspects below:
Target Segment
Once clear goals are established, Blackberry will be able to determine its strength and weaknesses as an organization as well as with respect to competitors. Firstly, its potential market can be worldwide international market considering the range of services and devices it offers and their global appeal.
Also as infrastructure for mobile phones (esp. smartphones) in developing countries mature, (big fraction from its total market) there is a need for a phone with more functionality but at a price point that’s manageable. This sounds like a role for Android, but Blackberry can fulfill this role to a great extent, especially in the business sector. Blackberry’s app world is not up to the mark presently. Unless they think they have the ingenuity and the engineering team like Apple and Android to outdo them, or have a fundamentally different model for delivering these features, this shouldn’t be Blackberry’s priority.
Secondly, they should shift 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 they have strayed from is fundamental. (Branding strategy insider, 2015)
It will be good to note here, that if they really want to foray again into the consumer market, they should do so with another sub brand (market segmentation), so that the serious, business brand image of Blackberry remains intact in the minds of end users.
Past few years, BlackBerry smartphones used to be the start of the solution, or simply was the solution ,Whereas now, increasingly, what we see is BlackBerry devices are part of the solution, i.e. firms purchase thousands of phones alongside signing up for the BlackBerry Enterprise management system to achieve end to end security.( LinkedIn, 2015).
Its current and potential market can comprise of emerging business owners including start-ups, big corporate enterprises where they could offer end to end solutions, healthcare sector, producers, IT sector, federal agencies, government and their organizations including top bureaucrats, diplomats and intelligence services, retail and sales industry, educational institutions, Hollywood movie scripts, law firms, the army, military and the defense departments.
All these organizations and business forms carry highly sensitive data at times, especially law, defense and healthcare sector. Since Blackberry’s USP is safety and security, they can cater to the customized needs of each of these sectors and build secure user systems for each one of them, creating a niche for themselves and barriers to entry for their competitors. Its App world and software solutions could be specialized for these organizations which could effectively result in multimillion dollar deals in exchange for tens of thousands of contracts for the employees who need end to end solutions.
In order to tap into potential future market, Blackberry can concentrate on educational institutions and also startups as a whole. For example the educational version of Corel Draw Graphics Suite costs only €100 instead of the market price of €700, simply because the company wants to persuade budding and future designers to get use to the user interface and form a habit of using the software. They really hope to cash upon this when these students enter as employees into companies and continue to use this software, then buying professional versions at €700 or group licenses.
Blackberry can offer their devices, software systems and apps to students and startups at attractive prices. Eventually this will help to build future market share. Business, law and medical colleges and all kinds of startups are some apt examples here.
Marketing Communications Objectives
Blackberry should strive to have clear goals on what image it needs to project on its target market as a brand. The former mistake of communicating with too many brand languages and different marketing campaigns in different countries should not be repeated. The campaigns could be customized but should have a clear common message. This is a vital ingredient to survive in today’s highly connected world.
People should be clear about “what blackberry stands for”. As strategist Michael Porter points out, ‘What business are we really in’ should be a key question in the repositioning strategy and should be communicated across to the market effectively.
Another objective can be to inform the customers that they are still here, they are back in business, they are here to stay and most importantly, they still have the ability to provide one of the most secure user interfaces, server systems, handheld devices and enterprise solutions in the world. They still are a serious business brand!
One great advantage that Blackberry has, is that it can take off from where it left. With the ongoing scenario where the entire world is connected and all resources including sensitive and valuable information is communicated through internet, cybercrime is one of the most pressing issues for enterprises. This issue has only increased in magnitude with time and offers a great USP for Blackberry to sell for itself.
Blackberry should communicate that it is different and not exactly in the same segment as Apple and Android with respect to Apps and Music and mobile devices. This differentiation can be effectively achieved through correct and targeted marketing communication. The devices serve different purposes for end users.
Building back brand equity in the market, regaining the trust of shareholders and turning into a profit generating organization are also objectives to be achieved through correct marketing communication.
Another objective is to strongly communicate that they are not just another smartphone device with a touch screen and apps to choose from, they are much more and quite different from that. They can offer complete enterprise solutions to choose from, acting as an instrumental tool for a business’s sustained growth.
Type of Appeal
In terms of the brand appeal, there is a considerable amount of work which has to be done. Due to their not so profitable entry into the lifestyle segment a few years back, with their smartphone, touchscreen products like Blackberry Storm and Torch, they lost their brand perceived appeal. Both, in the B2B market, where they were earlier successfully functioning, as well as in the consumer B2C market. They now need to build it back by concentrating on B2B segment again.
Since App world and touchscreen smartphones are not their forte, they should try to appeal to the target segment through safety and security features as well as software solutions which are provided along with touchscreen gadgets. Placing themselves as secure software providers is a big shift in appeal.
Through various advertising campaigns and promotional mix elements, customers should perceive them as a brand which provides tools which help make businesses run effectively and in turn makes their lives easier. This could in turn be associated with eventually more time for other aspect of business and family life. This could also help generate emotional appeal (touching the intangible aspects) which is not so easy in case of B2B segment.
Indirect and subtle appeal could be generated through increasing awareness about its core competencies and tapping into the potential future market. For example students from higher education institutions could be given free access to its services if they buy the handset at discounted prices. The correct collaboration with Celebrities, and Business leaders (not necessarily Hollywood) as brand ambassadors could also help to increase direct appeal. Mr. Barack Obama always used Blackberry before he was given a special PDA.
Special communities across the world could be created where people can interact through one common platform, resulting in brand appeal.
Blackberry messenger application reported 40 million new users who owned Apple and Samsung handsets in 2013. (David, 2013, Given the fact that BBM is a very secure messenger, this clearly shows how Blackberry can appeal to its users through information security features.
The product details, look and feel, user interface and price points are also critical factors to increase Blackberry’s appeal.
They also need to transform 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.

Recommended Promotional Mix elements
From September 2014, Blackberry has launched a new campaign where they are concentrating again on B2B model named "Work Wide" with the launch of Blackberry Passport.(Maddox, 2015, They have also launched a new tablet called SecuTab in summer 2015 and now a new android based gadget called Blackberry Priv. After repositioning as a software provider, these two gadgets are aimed at the users of the corporate and government sectors. Social media can also be used on these devices despite the security features. (Market news forum, 2015, Since they have already started repositioning in the right direction, I would like to recommend further supportive elements in the promotional mix rather than suggesting radical new measures.
Blackberry should convey its serious business image along with safety and security through advertising campaigns. Blackberry can achieve maximum penetration through ads on TV channels like CNBC, BBC, time slots between programs related to finance, share market, political and bureaucratic discussions on TV. But these should be synchronized also with Print Media, email newsletters, sponsoring of business meets, financial summits and trade events to achieve maximum impact. Posters and outdoor displays at special economic zones like business, industrial and government office areas should help to resurrect the image of Blackberry in customer’s minds. Paper ads and inserts for newspapers like Economic Times, Financial Times and Political and Economic magazines can be considered.
Consumer generated advertising (Bryne, 2015, S.8-21) could act as a key resource for advertising in case of Blackberry. Its target customers are well informed and would use and share all forms of communication effectively. Central route of advertising along with peripheral route could be adopted. (Bryne, 2015, S.7-21) For example, subtle advertising and product placement through science fiction and James Bond movies serves as peripheral route.
In terms of public relations, all stakeholders would be important here in order to develop a positive image about Blackberry. Employees should be well informed and taken into confidence about the new repositioning strategy, and they should spread the same goodwill. They should also have access to new gadgets and services.
All shareholders, investors should also have confidence in the future strategy of Blackberry.
Development of communities or Blackberry club membership which provide exclusive access of interaction amongst high profile users will help to spread the goodwill. All startups could also be given free platform to exchange ideas.
Structures press releases giving accurate, up to date and timely information will help to capture B2B market gradually. Periodic interviews with the CEO John Chen and the marketing VP Mark Wilson, has helped the company to gain a sense of direction and keep the target audiences engaged. They both should give the same brand message.
Advertising campaigns can be customized according to geographical regions, but they should not be completely different from each other.
Sponsorship of business symposiums, seminars, world summits, events to counter cybercrime would be a good idea for Blackberry. They can also organize complete events where all high profile users and business executives are invited for a couple of days along with startup owners to exchange information and to launch new Blackberry products.
Providing group discounts and bonus usage plans for every student batch in educational institutions would encourage students to chat and communicate with one another using Blackberry’s devices.
Since many startups could become big corporates in the future, Blackberry can provide discount schemes and complete package solutions which the startup can modify according to their nature of business.
Blackberry can get tens of thousands of contracts of employees if it targets big companies and provide complete enterprise solutions. Since this would involve big money transactions, personal and customized selling would be ideal here. It can cater to specific needs of every company and this can be achieved through a dedicated sales team which meets the customers face to face.
Direct marketing would be useful when startups and different colleges are targeted. Different combinations of gadget, software, service and price points will be helpful to create present and future loyal customer base.
Blackberry also needs to pay attention to its presence in social media as a reinvented brand. Special focus has to be given to maintain and update all social media channels (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter) along with traditional media to get the ball rolling. It can also enter into mutual events with LinkedIn and other country specific professional platforms.
If Blackberry continues with its present B2B strategy along with focus on safety and security measures, and with repositioning also as a software provider, it is probable that it can slowly regain its market share, this time purely through doing what it does best.

List of References
Allen, BlackBerry CEO writes letter reassuring enterprise customers, 2013,, Further reading:
David, 2013, BlackBerry hemorrhages red ink, but Foxconn saves its bacon,,Further reading:
Liu, 2015, How is BlackBerry Doing (2015)?,, Further Reading:
Rocha, 2015, BlackBerry lays out security strategy as turnaround takes shape,, Further reading:
Blackberry Appoints the Honourable Wayne G. Wouters to the Board of Directors, 2015,
Maddox, 2015,, Further reading: BlackBerry's Turnaround: From Losing $1.2 Billion a Quarter To Profitability,

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