Added: 09.05.2011 09:32
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Nokia - The Branding Challenge, Part 2

Nowadays, innovation and branding go hand in hand. But when it comes to the U.S market, Nokia seems to be falling behind on both. What can it do to revitalize itself in the North American smartphone war?

In my previous article we looked at how Nokia has developed as a global brand, how it rose to a position of power in the telecommunications market, and how it failed to properly compete in North America while dominating Asian markets.

In this second part, let's examine the ways in which Nokia can build brand equity. In order to do this, we need to establish what consumer based brand equity (CBBE) is. Put simply, CBBE refers to consumer knowledge of a brand. It is the value of a brand in the eyes of the consumer. With this in mind, a marketer must convince the consumer to see the difference in a brand, and to value it. Building this value can be done through: 1) creating brand awareness and 2) establishing a positive brand image. The final goal is brand loyalty.

Throughout academic literature, there are many different frameworks for building CBBE. This article will cover a simplified, basic approach. The first step considered here is brand awareness. The most fundamental building block of brand value is that the consumer is aware of the brand. The consumer needs to be able to recognize and remember the brand.
Does Nokia have any problems here? Unlikely. As mentioned in the previous article, the Nokia brand is well known throughout U.S markets, it is simply not well liked. Therefore the challenge is not in establishing brand awareness, but establishing a positive brand image.

Brand image is the second factor in developing CBBE presented here. How can this be done? The answer is by developing marketing programs that link unique, favorable, and potent brand associations into the customer's memory. Question: has Nokia done this? In the previous article, we gathered evidence showing that Nokia had misunderstood the U.S market culture, via failing to recognize the power which mobile operators hold, and not putting enough effort into CBBE development. This poor strategy hurt Nokia's image in the eyes of U.S customers, and allowed competitors like Apple and RIM (who knew the market) to aggressively capture market share.

Apple maintains strong brand value through a powerful image. This distinct image is built from establishing itself as different from its competitors. Different in products, different in corporate culture, and different through its symbolism and logo. These are collectively known as brand elements. Brand elements for building brand value. It represents everything the brand signifies, in a nutshell. To be successful, they must be memorable, meaningful, likeable, transferable, adaptable and protectionable. Nokia's own brand elements are dated. It has most of them down except for adaptability. This is perhaps most evident in the company's slogan, "Connecting People". The slogan and logo have been kept practically the same since 1992, when Nokia was first embarking on its journey in global telecommunications. Most people in the 21st century are connected. This slogan made sense in the early 90's when telecommunications was in its infancy. But nowadays, it is no longer relevant.

To conclude this article, lets take a recap of what we have looked at.
First, Nokia needs to turn its negative brand associations into positive ones, by embarking on marketing programs that communicate quality to its North American customers. Next, Nokia needs to revitalize its brand elements by updating its imagery and marketing channels, and bringing them to the 21st century. These activities will help Nokia gain brand loyalty in U.S markets.

It does, however, seem as though the company is attempting to fix its negative brand associations through establishing a partnership with Windows. This could definitely improve Nokia's brand image. Considering that CBBE is built over time and is developed through the consumer's own experiences, re-shaping brand associations may be more challenging than developing it from scratch. Let's see what happens in the following years.

Modified 2011-05-09 11:35:37

References:

Keller, Kevin Lane (2003). “Brand Synthesis: The Multidimensionality of Brand Knowledge,”

Tong, X. and Hawley, J.M.(2009). "Measuring Customer Based Brand Equity: Empirical Evidence from the Sportswear Market in China" Journal of Product & Brand Management.
http://krex.k-state.edu/dspace/bitstream/2097/1719/1/TongHawley2009.pdf

Nokia Connecting People Vector Logo 1992
http://www.hdicon.com/vector-logos/nokia-connecting-pople-1992/

Nokia Connecting People New Vector Logo
http://www.hdicon.com/vector-logos/nokia-connecting-pople-new/

Lecture on Brand Management
http://www.slideshare.net/nagpai/lecture4-brand-management

Research question: How can Nokia revitalize its brand in order to compete in the United States market?

Can you solve this challenge? or

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