What does the Nokia 3310 relaunch mean for brand messaging?

It was beloved by all who knew it, for its addictively-simple games, brick-like, indestructible body and battery that could last for days. For those who remember the Nokia 3310 (the original was first launched a staggering 17 years ago), the announcement last week that Nokia would be relaunching this iconic product was greeted with delight and shock.

Emotionally-driven, or a cry for simplicity?

Commentators have been quick to speculate what the release of such a pared-back product could mean for the tech industry and beyond. Many have seen the launch as a cry for simplicity, with Wired arguing that the new 3310 would likely be sold ‘as a “digital detox” phone’ for those overwhelmed by their constantly connected lives.

The New Statesman likewise latched onto the product’s self-deprecating title of ‘dumbphone’ to highlight the gulf between the 3310’s basic offering and that of its smarter brethren, quoting Nokia as saying that the relaunch was ‘what consumers were asking for’. 

The Independent on the other hand suggested that ‘the future of tech is nostalgia’, arguing that what made the announcement go viral was its throwback to a once well-loved product. Pointing out that the 3310 was just one of many nostalgic products launched in recent months, including the BlackBerry KeyOne and Samsung’s digital pencil, it was argued that the launch was ‘an attempt to cash in on consumers’ emotional ties.’  

What does this mean for brand messaging?

If the success of the launch is anything to go by, marketers will now be looking to translate these two forces, simplicity and an emotional connection to brand values, into messaging that can work for their offering.

Emotions and values as differentiation

One reason The Guardian believes that the 3310 caused such a stir at the Mobile World Congress is that smartphones have all become extremely similar, with each brand differing from the other only negligibly not only in terms of product offering but also in brand values.

The hype surrounding the 3310 shows that individuality and an emotional connection to the brand are both demanded by consumers, suggesting this could be a key platform on which to win brand loyalty. In a world where the paradox of choice is a daily occurrence for many, differentiating your brand from the crowd can be tough, but there are strategies you can implement to make your values stand out. 

At the start of 2016 entrepreneur.com argued that brands can be differentiated on a number of points, from tried and tested price positioning to creating a customer-centric culture that builds loyalty. However entrepreneur.com also suggested that forming partnerships to work on cross-industry projects, such as this collaboration by Coca Cola and Ericsson, can demonstrate a commitment to going beyond the norm and act as evidence of holding strong values.

As Time Magazine recently pointed out, in a time when values and associations can make or break a brand reputation, ‘functional differentiation and efficacy still matter; it’s just that values-rooted brand differentiation matters even more.’

Getting the message across simply

Although brand values are naturally nuanced and sometimes complex entities, getting these values across simply to your customers will work wonders for your brand. Design Week argued just this, pointing to Lego as being the perfect example of how to combine an emotional value with simple messaging.

Design Week argued that ‘if you develop a simple framework, people won’t be confused by it’, and what’s more ‘simple frameworks that have a capacity to flex will allow people to play with a brand, allowing it to distinguish itself.’ 

For Nokia in relaunching the 3310, simplicity is their value. It may not outsell the iPhone any time soon, but the lessons that can be learned for marketers are important. By providing a simple framework to which emotions, values and nostalgia can be attached, both by the brand itself and also by its users, Nokia has cleverly differentiated itself from the competition and thrust itself back into the technology spotlight.


What does the Nokia 3310 relaunch mean for brand messaging?