With BlackBerry’s New Name, an Abridged History of Corporate Rebranding

With BlackBerry’s New Name, an Abridged History of Corporate Rebranding

As the new BlackBerry line was introduced on Wednesday, a corporate name was sent to the dustbin.

No longer called Research in Motion, the BlackBerry maker will now go simply by BlackBerry. The new name reflects the company’s efforts to reinvent itself and unify its brand, said Thorsten Heins, the company’s chief executive, at an event on Wednesday where he unveiled the new product line. The ticker symbol on Nasdaq will change to BBRY from RIMM.

“Our customers use a BlackBerry, our employees work for BlackBerry, and our shareholders are owners of BlackBerry,” Mr. Heins said.

The BlackBerry name, more widely known than Research in Motion, was chosen by Lexicon Branding. That firm, based in California, also came up with Procter & Gamble’s Swiffer and Febreze brands and the name of Apple’s PowerBook.

BlackBerry, the corporation, on Wednesday joined a list of companies that have decided to rebrand themselves for one reason or another.

Some work out. Some don’t.

2011: Qwikster | Netflix had decided to spin off its old-fashioned DVD service and call it Qwikster, explaining that the name “refers to quick delivery.” After an outcry from subscribers, the company reversed course, dropping the plan.

2010: Ally Financial | GMAC Financial Services, a lender that once was owned by General Motors, changed its name to Ally Financial. The original brand had been tarnished during the financial crisis when GMAC needed a bailout. Ally is still largely owned by the government.

2009: Hostess Brands | After emerging from bankruptcy, the Interstate Bakeries Corporation changed its name to Hostess Brands, shedding a generic-sounding name in favor of one that was more recognizable among lovers of Twinkies and other treats. The company filed for bankruptcy again, and is now going through liquidation and selling off its well-known brands.

2007: Apple | In the same year it introduced the iPhone, Apple Computer changed its name to simply Apple, reflecting its expansion into handheld devices. The iPhone now accounts for more than half of Apple’s revenue.

2003: Altria | Philip Morris, the cigarette and food giant, changed its name to the Altria Group. The move was seen as an effort by the company to distance itself from the negative image that had grown around its well-known cigarette brand.

2001: Accenture | Andersen Consulting, after splitting from the accounting firm Arthur Andersen, changed its name to Accenture. The name, derived from “accent” and “future,” was dreamed up by an employee in Norway, who said at the time that the word conveyed “bold growth, operational excellence and a great place to work.” Shortly thereafter, Arthur Andersen collapsed amid an accounting scandal.


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