Nokia a brief story of brand stretch
Like many of the established brands NOKIA has a long history, in fact you can trace the company back to around 1865. So what does a company do back in that time?
Well for Nokia it centred around making paper. From here they went into electricity generation. As time went by a number of businesses merged or were bought and the NOKIA offer had expanded offer rubber products such as wellington boots and at one time was run by an Olympic gold medalist wrestler who moved them into also producing electrical goods. This led them in the 1960's to start manufacturing mobile phones which is the company that we know today. NOKIA were once the leading manufacture in the world of mobile phones and their brand and product could be seen everywhere from presidents hands to multi-million pound blockbusters as THE MATRIX. Since that time NOKIA – as has been well documented – has fallen on harder times. They have slipped from the top of the charts. Samsung, Apple and Android phones have all eaten away at their perch. Until their last quarter they had seen huge financial losses. In a desperate bid to change things around they have moved to the windows operating system which seems to have stopped the haemorrhaging. However yesterday it was announced that NOKIA will no longer have a paper mill background they will be a product range of one of the elder statesmen of Silicon Valley. If all goes well Microsoft will be buying NOKIA's phone division for around £4.6bn in the next few days.
So what has this got to do with brand stretch and brands in general? In many ways NOKIA are very similar to a lot of the Japanese brands. They have a large portfolio of products and the quality is associated across all these ranges. This is very different from Western culture brands where we see singularity as an assurance that they are specialists in a particular field. However what I think is when we bring it down to what a brand is NOKIA in many ways is THE example of this.
If we think about the idea that a brand is timeless. We always have customers say "we want our brand to be timeless like Coca-Cola" and it makes sense to look at this company and understand they have been going for years and you understand it, you understand their product and their brand??? Well I think what people are really seeing is their logo and the brand outputs or communications. I think due to Coca-Cola always making drinks they are always going to be in a place where we understand who and what they are.
Yet NOKIA as we have just read have cut a very different path that has almost centred around knowing the entire landscape of communication and technology and developed a number of products off of that. Yet it feels like their brand or the essence has pulled them through. It is not the first time they have been near bankruptcy and yet they came back they were bought and they came back stronger and yet their name was kept. Why keep the name and it's past? well for me their is something about the brand and it's beliefs that are the key to understanding this. The way NOKIA have looked at the next big thing and moved into that market. They way they have clear knowledge in creating certain products and so they use this knowledge to develop new products. All of this is part of their make-up and I look forward to seeing how their next 150 years go.