THERE was a spike for BlackBerry on Twitter on Monday with 41 per cent of the UK Twitter population exposed to messages about the brand. They were of course hearing the news that the mobile phone manufacturer is setting up a committee to explore potential business model options, including selling off the company.
So what is on offer to a potential buyer in terms of what the consumer makes of the brand? I’ve taken a look at five years’ worth of daily brand perception data on YouGov BrandIndex to evaluate where BlackBerry stands with consumers.
Back in the summer of 2008 the brand was flying high. BlackBerry’s Index score (a composite of six key image attributes) peaked at plus 28 in the US in the spring of 2009, and although a slow decline started soon after, in the UK the rise would continue for two more years, peaking at plus 26 in the spring of 2011. Since then, however, times have been difficult for BlackBerry; its decline in the US accelerated, and in the UK there was a steep drop following the massive global outage in October 2011. By the start of this year its Index score was as low as plus four in both the US and UK.
The hope was that the launch of the Z10 would arrest that decline and it has had a small impact in the US, where it now stands at plus seven. In April I looked closely at the impact of the Z10 advertising campaign in the UK using a new technique that allowed us to identify people who had been exposed to the advertising, whether or not they recalled it. That revealed that the campaign seemed to have a limited impact on consumers, but where people were exposed to the right ads frequently enough it did have a positive impact.
However, not enough people saw the right ads enough times and the company’s Index score in the UK has barely shifted.
This must partly also be because although BlackBerry was first to market itself as a smartphone brand, other brands such as Apple, Sony and Samsung, have now overtaken and the market is more crowded. Any potential buyer will need to weigh up whether Blackberry still has the ability to cut-through in those circumstances.
Stephan Shakespeare is the chief executive of YouGov