BlackBerry Jam rocks: the power (ballad) of great brand naming

[Cache – #87]

RIM executives singing a love song to the people who make apps for BlackBerrys?  It makes absolutely no sense.

Until you consider that the video was released at an annual developer conference called BlackBerry Jam.  There isn’t a developer alive who isn’t making an app compatible for the iPhone – but guys making apps for the BlackBerry are a dying breed.  They find the BlackBerry platform difficult to work with, and the launch of BlackBerry’s new operating system, BlackBerry 10, has been delayed so many times, a lot of them have given up waiting.

Hence the love song, patterned on the mushy power ballad by REO Speedwagon, Keep on Loving You.  It’s actually funny and really well done.  Alec Saunders, RIM’s vice president of developer relations, is backed by a band of two other RIM executives as he belts out knee-weakening lines like this:

“We’ve all seen these are challenging times, baby/Cuz we’re in transition/A whole new mobile computing platform/So don’t be misled/The launch is just ahead.”

Jam, of course, is defined as “a meeting of a group of musicians, especially to play for their own enjoyment.”  It’s also a metaphor for the developers getting together every year and sharing ideas.  And it’s a “generative” metaphor in relation to the word BlackBerry.

REO Speedwagon album cover keep on loving you

“Generative” was a word introduced to me recently by transformative conversationalist Tracey Peever.  It refers to something that “generates new perceptions, explanations and inventions.”  In the world of brand naming, generative metaphors are powerful tools.  Think about what Disney’s done for many decades.  As discussed by Chip and Dan Heath in their bestselling book, Made to Stick, Disney calls its theme park employees “cast members”:

“The metaphor of employees as cast members in a theatrical production is communicated consistently throughout the organization:

  • Cast members don’t interview for a job, they audition for a role.
  • When they are walking around the park, they are onstage.
  • People visiting Disney are guests, not customers.
  • Jobs are performances; uniforms are costumes.”


Jam is a rare creative use of language by BlackBerry.  For us, it’s a reminder that you can always riff on a meaningful name to reinforce the brand message at every point in the stakeholder experience.

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