Can a corporate rebrand really deliver a decisive change in internal culture? The Marketing Society Forum
Mobile device firm Research In Motion has renamed itself BlackBerry to create a 'clear global brand'.
YES - Ben Bilboul, Chief executive, Karmarama
Allthough evidence suggests that most corporate name-changes have little effect on the long-term prospects of a business, it's a powerful signal that the 'reset' button is being pressed.
In RIM's case - following a 90% decline in its valuation - it couldn't come a moment too soon.
Critics will complain that re-brands are cosmetic, but changing the organisation's name is a serious and powerful statement of intent. It gives a company the opportunity to review why it exists, what it stands for and how it behaves.
Whether that opportunity is realised goes far beyond a change in name, but for a brief, important moment the staff, customers and shareholders of BlackBerry will be looking at it with fresh eyes.
NO - Lindsey Clay, Managing director, Thinkbox
It seems vastly sensible to me that RIM (faceless, corporate, vaguely sexual acronym) should be changing its name to Blackberry (famous, distinctive, popular brand) but it’s going to take a lot more than that to deliver a decisive change in internal culture; a notoriously difficult thing to do.
A brand name change can play a role in this but usually as a sign of a huge process that has already happened rather than as catalyst for it to begin.
At the recent Lead 2013, Carolyn McCall told of her impatience to tell the world about planned changes to Easyjet’s culture and how thankful she was that she allowed herself to be persuaded to drive the internal process changes and staff enrolment first before communicating anything publicly. Hopefully, Blackberry has done the same.
YES - Richard Morris, Chief executive, Identica
In the case of BlackBerry, however, I don't think this will work. To get audiences, internal or external, to relook at a brand, a name change must be dramatic enough to grab attention. Think about the profound effect that The Spastics Society changing its brand to Scope had on people's perception of cerebral palsy.
I suspect most folk working at RIM already told people they worked for BlackBerry: it's the name everyone recognises, while RIM was pretty meaningless to most. So the 'new' name doesn't prompt re-evaluation, or even give staff much of a reason to tell their friends the 'news' - and if the staff can't get excited, nothing's going to change.
YES - Mark Fells, Director of digital, Whitbread Hotels & Restaurants
Brands are a simple and well-understood expression of attributes, values and ways of behaving that consumers and your own teams get, and are drawn to.
At its best, a brand runs through everything that the business does with consistency at every touchpoint - not just new products, but ways of behaving.
It needs substance behind it, both for consumers and those that work there. If not, a 'rebrand' is just a new name for the same business.
Each week Forum questions members of The Marketing Society on a hot topic. For more information on membership, visit www.marketing-society.org.uk
This article was first published on marketingmagazine.co.uk
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