Insights

Why Nokia Rebranded

Everything you wanted to know about the Nokia rebrand, as well as the burning question – Will there now be two Nokias?

screenshot of new nokia logo with a mechanical frog

After dominating the mobile phone market in the 1990s and early 2000s, Nokia struggled to keep its leadership position. Although the company ultimately shifted its focus to providing networking equipment and services to businesses, most people (especially in India) still think of a mobile phone when they think of Nokia.

What led to Nokia’s downfall from its position as the world’s largest mobile phone brand in 1998? While there were many reasons, the overriding cause was the company’s refusal to adopt Android and its attempt to create an alternate operating system called Symbian with Ericsson and Motorola.

Two Nokias?

In 2014, Nokia’s mobile phone division was acquired by Microsoft for US$ 7 billion, but the partnership was ill-fated. A year later, Microsoft shuttered its mobile phone division and the Finnish company bought back the business in 2016, under the name HMD Global. The right to use the Nokia brand on mobile phones rests with them. While there have been no official announcements, we are guessing that they will still continue to use the old logo.

Old and new Nokia logo
As of now, it seems Nokia’s mobile phones will still carry the old logo

Nokia Bell Labs, which the company acquired in 2016, has been included in the rebrand and carries the new logo.

The New Nokia

Today Nokia’s principal business is B2B networking equipment and services. To emphasise this, the company announced a new identity on February 26th.

This was accompanied by an articulation of six strategic pillars:

  • Grow market share with service providers, driven by continued technology leadership 
  • Expand the share of Enterprises within our customer mix
  • Continue to manage our portfolio actively, to ensure a path to a leading position in all segments where we decide to compete 
  • Seize opportunities from sectors beyond mobile devices to monetise our IP and continue to invest in R&D for Nokia Technologies 
  • Implement new business models, such as ‘as-a-Service’
  • Develop ESG into a competitive advantage and become the ‘trusted provider of choice’ in our industry. 
grid of images showing Nokia's new identity
The new Nokia identity crafted by Lippincott was revealed on February 26, 2023

Similar cases in the past include the Xerox rebrand, when the company announced a new identity to move beyond its legacy as a copier and printer company and position itself as a provider of digital solutions to its customers.

old and new xerox logos
Like Nokia, Xerox also rebranded to signal a move beyond its legacy of copiers and printers

Created by Lippincott, the new Nokia logo has, of course, created a storm on social media.

It’s unformed letters and glyph-less approach are being likened to the Kia logo, which is supposed to have caused confusion, even leading to a search for a ‘KN car’.

Nokia logo and Kia logo
The Nokia logo is being likened to the Kia logo because of the similarity of the unformed letters

The THC Take

Does the new Nokia logo have a legibility issue? We say it does.

But, as we’ve pointed out before, if you are a household name with distribution muscle, even a somewhat illegible logo is unlikely to cause any lasting brand damage. While the Kia case is cause for concern because it is a B2C brand, Nokia targets a small, B2B audience that is much easier to reach and inform.

Does it look like the Kia logo? That’s just silly and saying it looks like all logos that use the unformed letters approach, like the new logo for The Verge, for example.

The pastel colours and gradient are now de riguer for B2B brands trying to establish a contemporary, friendly image.

A storied firm like Lippincott will have provided a robust solution for the implementation of the identity and brand architecture, and the chatter over the aesthetics of the new identity will fade. It is worth mentioning that the design consultancy has partnered with Nokia for the past 15 years.

What will be more interesting is the communication and marketing initiatives that will come from Nokia now, and whether those will live up to the cooler image that the identity promises.

And for all those people asking if the ‘rebrand will restore Nokia to its former glory,’ this is now a different company. It doesn’t want to be associated with its past legacy, glorious or not. That’s the whole point of the rebrand.

Billboard nokia with a girl blowing a bubblegum bubble
The chatter over the logo will fade and the success of the rebrand will depend on the quality of the communication that comes from Nokia now
Images are property of Nokia & Lippincot

2 Comments

  1. This is was exactly my thoughts with the Kia rebrand as well. With everything being customised these days, I wonder how these logos will look like in a few years.

  2. Insightful.
    Let’s think “not out of the Box” however create “New Box ”
    ReBrand or Regain Brand?

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