Cutting Room: Can Nokia get its mojo working?


Nokia’s decision to cut back on marketing hasn’t done it any favours

The news that Nokia has dropped from number 21 to number 94 in the list of the world’s most valuable brands comes as no surprise.

It is perhaps surprising the brand didn’t plummet further down BrandFinance’s Global 500 brands of 2011.

While Vodafone is celebrating becoming the UK’s most valuable UK brand, according to the BrandFinance league table, Nokia has to ask some serious questions of itself.

We all know that Nokia is now in intensive-care following its partnership with Microsoft (see page 30), and is currently without a viable product portfolio in the crucial smartphone space.

A diminishing of its brand image is just as serious as its current technical cul-de-sac.

The pace of new product releases can be controlled and determined by Nokia. The dilution of its brand awareness is something over which it has little control.

For the last three years Nokia pulled the plug on practically all its above-the-line advertising.

In fact, apart from a small burst of activity for the N8 and a sprinkling of Ovi Maps TV commercials, this writer cannot recall with certainty any significant Nokia branding since 2009.

One does not have to have a marketing degree to realise the incompetence of such a strategy.

Strong brands have strong brand values. Resilient brands protect themselves from obscurity by continually refreshing how they impart their message to consumers.

People know that ‘Virgin’ stands for a customer experience outside the ordinary and that Apple’s products have an aura and cachet of ‘cool’.

Once upon a time, Nokia stood for the best-quality hardware with the most sophisticated user interface. You knew a new Nokia phone would be as reliable and easy-to-use as your last Nokia.

I was once a classic consumer of Nokia. For years I would not give a second thought to using any other phone.

I looked forward to the next ‘N’ series with the same sense of anticipation as I once looked forward to the next Stones album (sad, I know).

I had an N95 when the first iPhone came out. I had no desire to swap my amazing N95 for the Cupertino bauble. I changed this for an N97 Mini. Then I played with an iPhone 3GS. Game over for Nokia.

I would guess my experience was repeated throughout the developed world.

Hundreds of thousands of Nokia fans lost – in the time it took to download their first app from the App store.

During the iPhone’s ascendence I perceived not one communication of marketing excellence from Nokia to convince me to stay loyal.

Instead, Nokia offered me a lacklustre Ovi store, arcane software update procedures (that invariably crashed and caused loss of data), connectivity that required a degree in computer science, and a lack of customer support (I once tried to buy a USB lead from the Nokia Store in London’s Regent Street. Never again).

What does Nokia stand for now? A slow-acting behemoth that failed to keep up with the march of technology.

Nokia is no longer ‘cool’. And by associating itself with another slow-to-market behemoth (Microsoft) it is doubtful that Nokia will
again recover its sharp image of brand excellence.

With this in mind, one wonders what the job descriptions of Nokia’s marketing personnel actually say.

How do you spend five days of the week in the marketing department of a company that appears not to do any marketing?