BlackBerry re-boots brand but boots boss

Struggling smartphone maker BlackBerry has fired its CEO Thorsten Heins, who leaves with a $22 million severance package. He will be replaced at the end of November by John Chen former CEO of Sybase. The move comes as the company turns its back on a $4.7 billion rescue deal from its principal shareholder Fairfax Financial, in favour of a plan to raise $ 1 billion in convertible bonds: Fairfax has pledged to buy $250 million worth of them.

Chen said: “BlackBerry is an iconic brand with enormous potential, but it's going to take time, discipline and tough decisions to reclaim our success.”

However according to the leading research consultancy Brand Keys BlackBerry, once a market leader, has lost most of its share to Apple’s iPhones, Samsung, and phones running Google’s Android software – and with that its ‘iconic’ status. “The death spiral of market share and sales puts a real damper on any potential for a fast or significant brand comeback.”

October’s brand rankings from Brand Keys show how well the brand is seen to meet expectations the brands’ own customers hold for their 'Ideal' smartphones:

Apple 92%
Samsung 89%
LG 84%
Nokia 82%
Motorola/HTC 80%
Blackberry 54%

At the beginning of 3Q 2013 BlackBerry had four percent of the market market. As of the latest quarter, they account for less than two percent of new smartphone shipments, so pretty much an engagement death spiral too. And its been reported that the company market cap is only $4 billion, a 95 percent drop in five years. “Somehow you’d expect more from an ‘iconic’ brand says Robert Passikoff, Brand Keys’ President. “It might be worth pointing out to Mr. Chen that being ‘iconic’ – a synonym for ‘recognisable’ – doesn't quite work as well as it did in years past. Today you need to be recognised for standing for something that emotionally differentiates you from the pack. And, at the very least, are able to meet expectations consumers hold for the Ideal in your category. If you can’t, they just fly away to other brands. Anyone remember Pan Am?"