Microsoft is in the midst of a company-wide rebranding. Part of this rebranding season is an attempt to aligned with the company’s projections for the future. The company is shifting many of its ‘Windows’ focused branding to simply Microsoft. During some focus testing, analysts found that while the brand ‘Microsoft’ carried some unpreferable legacy with it, the Windows brand was the brand that held the most tarnish for the company. As Microsoft sprints forward with the One-Windows initiative, they will need a Herculean effort to massage the built-up inherent mistrust of various Windows consumers. Windows however, is not the only place Microsoft faces a rebranding issue.
Microsoft’s hurried deal with Nokia is also saddling Microsoft with another uphill battle regarding its brand. Fortunately, Microsoft is seizing the opportunity to take established Nokia retail stores, and rebranding them as official Microsoft Priority Resellers globally. In Gurgaon, India, Microsoft is launching its first rebranded Nokia Store as a Priority Reseller store. While the specific title makes India the first ever in the world for Microsoft. Brazil, and other countries are rolling out rebranded Microsoft Authorized Reseller stores as well. The new rebranding is more than pulling off the old Nokia stickers in stores and slapping on brand new Microsoft ones. The rebranded retails stores will now be transformed visually into stores that more resemble the North American retail experiences found in the Microsoft Store. Former Nokia retail stores will become showrooms for the wide range of Microsoft products like Surface, Xbox, Lumia, Office 365 and various Microsoft accessories.
What’s more interesting is now that the stores are officially Microsoft sanctioned, consumers in the area will be able to participate in general trade-ins, Microsoft customer care and ideally, promotional events. Beyond the consumer appeal, the new rebranding gives Microsoft a wider reach when engaging the public with its products. The rebranded stores span across France, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam. Microsoft has been previously ridiculed for the lack of international presence. This retail footprint is a small but powerful move for Microsoft, as its customers, particularly in emerging markets, can start to see Microsoft as a retail brand, as well as a software maker.
“Lumia users will see superb tighter integration and things working in a seamless way. These stores will showcase the great experiences we have between hardware, software, and services,” said Chris Weber, corporate vice president for mobile device sales at Microsoft. It would not be too far-fetched to see a future where people do their PC, tablet, and phone shopping from a ‘trusted’ Microsoft Store rather than local 3rd party retailers. However, there are still many Nokia diehards who may fear the new transition abandons them with their current non-Microsoft products. Fear not, Microsoft will continue to honor existing Nokia device warranties and plan to provide world-class customer care for everyone.
Perhaps in the grand scheme of things, the Nokia hardware division wasn’t the only thing Microsoft was looking to leverage in the deal. Rather than spending potentially millions on land studies, zoning permits, business licenses, construction and a myriad of other costly requirements, Microsoft was poised to inherit an international presence overnight. Whether or not they take full advantage of their new situation is entirely up to the company. However, if they approach it with the same core values as their North American presence, perhaps Microsoft Stores can eventually become the go-to place for anything not labeled Android or Apple.