Rebranding Strategy Returns Favorable Sentiment for Microsoft

Analysis of global conversations offer software giant new insights on Nokia, brands, and merger

The deal is done. After nearly a year of negotiation and speculation, Microsoft announced its acquisition of Nokia’s mobile phone and device business on April 25th. The $7.2 billion transaction is intended to bring Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system to their leading hardware supporter, Nokia. As a result, Microsoft’s mobile phone market position is expected to enter a new era. Welcome to the world of Microsoft Mobile.
Merger Insights on Microsoft and Nokia News
As 30,000+ former Nokia employees are in the midst of crossing over to Microsoft, millions are logging onto Twitter to share their two cents on the acquisition. We sought out the public’s response to the Microsoft Mobile rebrand, comparing the past perceptions of Nokia brand to those of its new name. We found that the Nokia brand is often associated with the past, which is limiting consumer excitement for the future.
To understand what kind of sentiment Nokia is bringing to Microsoft’s table, we start with an opinion breakdown over the past year.
Rebranding sentiment on Microsoft and Nokia - opinion analysis
Between April 2013 and the end of April 2014, 66% of Twitter posts expressed negative sentiment toward Nokia Mobile. Our biggest takeaway is how old-school Nokia technology is perceived to be in the eyes of the public. 40% of conversation showed that the public still considers Nokia to be a brand of dated mobile devices, offering phones that serve only as a last resort. Low-quality percentages beat out high-quality percentages, and the usability numbers were no different. These results suggest that Nokia never truly separated themselves from their iconic 1990’s phone models, such as the Nokia 100. Remember using one of those?
sentiment on Nokia 100 phone
For example, a buyer may pass on a Nokia Lumia Smartphone because it came from “those” guys. The guys who brought you T9word texting and the pixelated “Snake” to pass the time. The generations that saw mobile phone technology develop since its birth may identify Nokia with the industry’s first baby steps and put a successful Smartphone beyond the company’s potential.

 

Microsoft sees things differently. The #MoreColorful campaign is underway, and rebranding Nokia technology is Microsoft’s next big advertising expenditure. Excited by the potential of their acquisition, top management has cited that past models like the Lumia 920 are a testament to the good that the two companies can do together.
Rebranding sentiment on Nokia - volume of posts in opinion analysis2
Microsoft and Nokia collaborated on the Nokia 920 back in 2012. Of 351,000 relevant blogs, tweets, forums, and Facebook posts since its launch, only 8% reveal negative opinion of the product. To put this in perspective, 17% of posts expressed affection for the product and another 14% expressed an intent to buy.
The model’s successor, the Nokia 925, was then announced on May 14, 2013. We see that promotion for the Nokia 925 announcement and ultimate mid-June release sparked more conversation about the Nokia 920. Social media often serves as reminder advertising for companies in the wake of rebranding.
Dated models such as the Nokia 100 are the last thing Microsoft wants its latest acquisition to be remembered for. If we combine these results with sentiment offered online over the past week discussing the acquisition, we can see who the public thinks the acquisition is benefitting the most.
Rebranding sentiment on Microsoft and Nokia - volume of posts
We see the clearest disparity in sentiment on the day of the acquisition. The breakdown over the week of the acquisition reveals that a greater percentage of conversation identifies Nokia as a poor acquisition by Microsoft than all of the positive topic percentages combined. In fact, only 2% of posts believe Nokia’s mobile business to be a strong acquisition.
On the other hand, 19% of positive conversation is excited by the rebrand with 9% pledging loyalty to their new service.

 

4% of conversation came in the form of advice for Microsoft. Many of these posts revealed a demand to keep the Nokia name in rotation, expressing sentiment that the Microsoft Mobile rebrand is too much, too soon.

 

The public also reminded Microsoft that holding onto the manufacturer’s name has been done before:

We know people are resistant to change and company transitions like these are a delicate process. Any connection the public has to the Nokia brand must be carefully assessed and addressed in Microsoft’s rebranding efforts. We see that talk of the acquisition is most prevalent in the India affinity, a place where Nokia products are both manufactured and used on a grand scale. Those talking about Indian news and other related topics are tweeting 49x more often about Microsoft Mobile than the average Twitter user.

Another notable affinity talking about the acquisition is Apple, and that’s never a bad thing. 18% of this analysis is tied to the Apple affinity, and Apple affinity members are discussing the Microsoft Mobile acquisition 8x more often than the average Tweeter. Interestingly, this acquisition makes more sense to those with a greater awareness of the industry and perhaps of Nokia’s true value.
Nokia’s split public identity, torn between a technology provider that has already seen its prime and a relevant, competitive Smartphone manufacturer, has limited the company’s growth and overall positioning in the market. Microsoft hopes their most-recent acquisition will rebrand the services and respark momentum within the mobile device industry. Nokia- you are in good hands.
Whether for better or for worse, Nokia is officially a part of the Microsoft family. Let us remember Nokia for its pioneering efforts in mobile phone technology, and long live Microsoft Mobile. As always, we can count on social media to offer perspective and raise the next big question:

For more rebranding insights into why social sentiment analysis is your critical first step, download the American Airlines Rebranding Study.

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