Saturday, March 7, 2009

What's up with all this Blackberry business?

My friends and family envy me. Whenever they see me, they ask me questions about it. They ask me how much it cost, how cool it looks, and if they can touch it. The last one annoys me.

That's because when I say yes, they grab it and pretend to act like its theirs, knowing what they are doing infuriates me as I look on. But how can I say no? The item of their affection and mine is my Blackberry...the phone that seems to do no wrong.

Now let me clarify something. I do not work for or have friends or family who work for RIM (Research in Motion, the makers of the Blackberry if you didn't know).

I'm not pitching it to you as RIM is the one whose job is to do that. I'm just intrigued as to the massive appeal, the massive brand following that Blackberry has created for itself. Let me take you back to last year around Christmas time to explain.

Last December, I was working at an electronics retailer, Future Shop. A great place for me to be. Technology, along with sports and personal finance, are my top 3 favourite things other than PR. To be around this environment of new products, gadgets, and devices was really funny.

It was also around this time that I decided to get a early Christmas present for me, a new phone. I didn't care so much about the latest and greatest, although I did know that everyone in my age group was grabbing the Iphone up as fast as possible. I liked the Iphone as well because of this peer influence, however needed to know more about it.

So I walked into Rogers looking for a new phone. Naturally I asked about the Iphone, feeling inclined to do so because of my aforementioned peer influence. So I did. I asked a lot of questions. I got my answers. But still wasn't 100% sold on the Iphone. Then I saw the Blackbery and I knew that was it for me.

The Blackberry that I saw (later I would know it was the new Blackberry Curve 8900 to be exact) was sleek, stylish and all business. It brought on a complete businessman vibe to me, a lot more than what the Iphone, which seemed more of a less serious, fun vibe.

Probably the key feature for me was that the Curve 8900 had keys, while the Iphone was all touch based. When I realize I use my phone more to text message than make calls, the sell
job was complete. I happily purchased my Blackberry and life continued smoothly...well not quite.

Whenever I have my phone out it gets noticed. I remember back to working at Future Shop. I was in the lunch room and had put my phone on the table. Then some girl grabbed it and just went nuts about it, saying how lucky I was, praising the phone non-stop, and wishing she could switch phone carriers so she could purchase the phone, as this phone wasn't available on hers.

She even went so far as to borrow my phone, bring it on the floor and share it with other people in her department. Sheepishly after a good time without my phone, I asked for it back. Only took her about half an hour to be done with it. No big deal.

When I go over to my friends more of the same. Those with older Blackberry's are glad I joined the "family" and go on about how much I must feel like a "businessman" and "high roller" because I have the newest one, at least for now.

Even my older sister, gushes over my phone. Recently she chatted me for minutes about how much it cost and how she would like to purchase one.

So what does all of this add up to, when looking at it from a PR perspective? Well it tells me that Blackberry's brand is strong. People notice it and are loyal to it...incredibly loyal in the case of my co-worker at Future Shop.

Another thing is that a characteristic of a good brand is one that invokes people to associate a certain lifestyle with it. The Blackberry brand is no different. My friend immediately characterized me as joining the "family", becoming a "businessman" and being a "high roller" all over having this particular cell phone.

Finally, and maybe even most importantly, the Blackberry brand resonates with even the most casual observer, in my case my sister. She just has a basic cellphone, doesn't use it for music, internet or sending e-mails but even she was aware of the Blackberry brand and showed genuine interest in it.

Having a strong brand is important. In Blackberry's case this is no different. It allows the need for less emphasis on massive ad campaigns and generates more word of mouth marketing, among other things. I only wish sometimes it wasn't so well noticed. Because not getting heckled as much about having one, wouldn't be so bad, don't you think?