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Brian Clevenger on ClientSide talks BlackBerry’s pivot from handsets to cyber security

We are joined by Brian Clevenger, VP of Corporate Marketing at BlackBerry discussing the company's shift from handsets to cyber security.


In this episode, we are joined by Brian Clevenger, VP of Corporate Marketing at BlackBerry.

Brian’s leadership experience covers over 20 years of building brands, relationships, and entire businesses for both clients and agencies. Currently, he oversees brand, creative, web,  campaigns, project management , and media, and is leading the company’s largest global  rebrand in over seven years.

Listen to Brian’s full ClientSide episode here.

BlackBerry has been building secure devices since the beginning 

“What I learned, which I did not know, is that those devices were powerful and they made people productive because they were secure.”

Brian came to BlackBerry with a background in writing and was tasked with repositioning the company in the public eye. Looking at the big picture of the business, Brian quickly realised that BlackBerry had been in the security field for a lot longer than outwardly realised.

“The challenge always was, connecting that device heritage, which was security, and now literally in everything you come in contact with. And to me being a writer, it was a big challenge, no doubt about it. […] I was able to do that, obviously with a good team around me as well, but how do you distill this? Because it can be very, very confusing. I mean, the world of cybersecurity,  it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, talk to me as a person’”.

BlackBerry believes in keeping it simple

“Intelligent Security Everywhere… I mean, it’s three words. But what I love about it is it checks off on everything we do.”

BlackBerry’s security value proposition is just three words, ‘Intelligent Security Everywhere’, which though developed before Brian’s arrival, he stands by for its simplicity and clarity.

“Intelligent, I think is a really, really nice word, it’s shorthand for AI or machine learning. So making sure that that is forefront. We’re using artificial intelligence to do what we do. Security. We want you to know it’s a security company. And then everywhere is the proof point […] it’s a hardworking line, it’s a simple line, it’s only three words. Everything we do from a brand perspective gets run through that lens.”

Speak to your consumers to see if your message and proposition resonates with them

“What I wanted to figure out is, where do we sit in the cybersecurity space?”

For Brian, it’s key to look at the short- and long-term results. He highlights the success of short-term impressions but also the importance of making sure that these are valuable in the long run.

“When we polled people, it’s like, “Who do you associate with this tagline?” And we gave them a list, [BlackBerry ranked at] number three next to Microsoft and IBM. I would love to have been number one, but number three is not bad in that company. […] After all, this has been the market for roughly a year, we’ll do another brand study, and have we moved that needle? Have we penetrated the cybersecurity market? Have we done everything we set out to do?”.

Dig deeper into your brand

“[John] pivoted the company. And it was a monumental task actually, because not only did he move from consumer to B2B, he moved from hardware to software.”

Revelations come from anywhere when you step back and unpack the big questions, such as the conversation which took place between Brian and BlackBerry CEO, John Chen.

[John asked] “Can we say we changed the world?” I said, “Okay, let’s unpackage that a little bit.” And he goes, “Well, if you think about the mobile workforce, 40 hours a week, we set them free. We liberated them.” I’m like, “To me, I’d say that’s changing the world. ” And it was.”

BlackBerry has become an example of what can be achieved when you have belief in your company. From bleeding between a billion and 1.5 billion a quarter to becoming a successful cybersecurity leader, BlackBerry has transitioned from a single industry to a diversified company that thrives across multiple industries.

Listen to Brian’s full episode on the ClientSide podcast and check out more inspirational B2B stories.