BlackBerry is blowing it. The long-standing mobile email champ took the early lead by focusing on product, making devices that worked and appealing to consumers' practical, rather than emotional needs. That's fine when you're the only - or the main - game in town.
But like it always does, the game has changed. And BlackBerry hasn't done the work to integrate the brand - not just the product - into its customers’ lives. The one notable branding effort has been a John Mayer tour sponsorship, a clear demonstration that it doesn't understand its customers.
For the creative class, and what's more accurately described as the cultural class, BBs have been a staple in the tech arsenal, along with Apple laptops of various incarnations. Before it loses too much ground to you-know-who and the other you-know-who, RIM needs to begin a conspicuous and consistent demonstration that it values the lifestyles of the folks in which its products play such an important role.
- Collaborate with interesting visual artists to make limited-edition cases, skins, and other accessories. Then host art openings to launch those products and get them in the hands of the real influencers. Send out invites via BB Messenger or direct PIN messages so only BB owners and their +1s are hip.
- Do the same with music. Commission custom ringtones or original recordings and then host listening parties. Involve BB owners in deciding what artists to support.
- BlackBerry is about business, right? So facilitate growth in your users’ businesses with a series of networking events and conferences, then extend that community online. Do you think people are going to jump on the latest trendy phone if you’re actually helping their businesses?
There's lots more work to do, but this is a good start at building real relationships with people who care about the brand and will gladly lend their influence if approached in the right way.