Nokia may have announced six new devices today, but new hardware arguably isn’t its biggest problem – that’s its brand reputation, damaged by years of failure to compete effectively with Apple and Android. Today the company set out plans to change that with an emphasis on aspirational youth.
In his keynote at NokiaWorld in London today, CEO Stephen Elop outlined a bold new future for the company, stating that he wants it to shift away from being ‘reliable’ old Nokia (“We know that’s not enough”), to something more dynamic – shifting to a focus on aspirational young people.
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Later in the keynote, this was expanded upon, with Nokia explaining that it was targeting 25 year-olds, or “the 25 year-old in each and every one of you.”
This branding shift will manifest itself in the form of a ‘fun’ new look for Nokia’s stores, based around the Windows Phone 7 ’tile’ interface. The company will also ‘invade’ cities around the world with publicity stunts in which Windows Phone tiles, and people dressed as tiles, will spring up as an unusual sight in everyday surroundings – the hope being that photos and videos of such events will be shared online by the target market wherever they see them.
The idea here, it seems, is to build familiarity and good will towards Nokia and Windows Phone 7 as a package that comes together. The ‘aspirational youth’ focus is global, too, with the lengthy introduction of its four new ‘Asha‘ Series 40 phones today detailing how young, upwardly mobile types in emerging markets around the world would appreciate each device’s features.
With Apple and Android appealing to everyone, and RIM’s BlackBerry having (at least for now) a strong foothold in business and the teenage market, Nokia clearly sees room to target young adults, and the young at heart. Whether it can convince this group to come back to Nokia after years of more tempting offers elsewhere remains to be seen – there are many more factors at play, from fierce, high-quality competition to Nokia’s reliance on Microsoft to keep Windows Phone a compelling proposition.
Still, it’s a start. Nokia has a long way to go to repair its damaged brand, and it could only do so much in one go – but today could mark the start of the company’s renaissance.
To view all of our Nokia World coverage, including handset announcements, click here.