Leaked document reveals branding implications for Microsoft's Nokia acquisition

Microsoft’s purchase of Nokia’s devices business was completed back in May, but many questions have remained over the integration of the two. One of the biggest areas awaiting clarification has been that of branding, as the most recent device to launch, the Lumia 630, still carries the Nokia name, alongside Microsoft’s logo.

But today, the ever-reliable @evleaks has published leaked documentation that offers a bit of insight regarding how branding will be handled as Microsoft integrates its new acquisition into the company.

We would encourage you to head over to evleaks.at to view the documents in full for more details. It should be noted that they were written in January, and therefore some of what is described may have been superseded by newer guidelines since then.

We have highlighted a few key points from the documents below (note that ‘Day One’ refers to the day on which the acquisition was completed, on April 25 2014).

  • As previously disclosed, Microsoft is permitted to continue using the Nokia brand on Lumia devices for 18 months from the closing date of the acquisition i.e. through to November 25 2015; on Nokia X devices until December 31 2015; and on other mobile phones until April 25 2024. However, what is worth noting on this documentation, under ‘Strategy & planning’, is where it states: “Microsoft brand will only replace the Nokia brand in product, applications and experiences when Microsoft has launched a new product into the market.” The language is not explicit, but it suggests that Microsoft plans to start using its own brand on new devices sooner than the trademark licenses for the Nokia brand expire, perhaps even on the next handset that it launches. This makes sense, given that the company would not reasonably wait until the day that the Nokia trademark licence expires to make that change.
  • It is also stated that the company is “carefully planning how, when and where to introduce the Microsoft brand [to Nokia retail stores] over a significant period of time.”
  • The document adds that products should continue to be referred to as “Nokia Lumia, Nokia Asha, Nokia X” etc from Day One. As previously revealed, Microsoft has acquired the Lumia and Asha brands from Nokia (fully, rather than under license), so it holds the rights to continue using these brands indefinitely. The company could therefore launch new ‘Microsoft Lumia’ or ‘Microsoft Asha’ devices while continuing to sell older ‘Nokia Lumia’ devices until they are withdrawn or replaced, rather than rebranding its entire product portfolio at once.
  • The ‘Nokia Pure’ font family will no longer be used for new marketing and other communications materials. Some marketing that was in the works before Day One will continue to be produced with the Nokia Pure font, but any new materials will now be required to use Microsoft’s corporate ‘Segoe’ font.

  • Microsoft has not acquired the rights to the infamous ‘Nokia tune’ ringtone, Nokia’s “Connecting People” tagline or the ‘hands’ animation. These assets remain the property of Nokia. The documentation says that “all Nokia branded products must carry the Nokia tune as default, and logo as it does today. We are evaluating the impact of this decision on future product releases.”
  • Employees joining Microsoft from Nokia are instructed to tell people that they “work for Microsoft” or “I work on the Microsoft devices business”. Although the products themselves will continue to be Nokia-branded for the time being (see above), employees should not refer to the products using the Nokia branding when describing where they work (for example: I work for Microsoft on its Lumia devices, rather than I work on the Nokia Lumia team).
  • As of January, Microsoft had not made a decision on how it would rebrand Nokia Care Centers.
  • Similarly, no apparent decision had been made regarding rebranding Nokia apps (which still retain their Nokia branding), although like many other details described here, guidance may well have been issued internally on this by now.
  • The documentation describes the ‘Microsoft brand promise’ as “tools for unleashing innovation in everyone on the planet.”

So, plenty of info to ponder on there, although given that this information is now several months old, we cannot overstate the need to keep in mind that much of it may have changed by now. 

Source: evleaks.at | upper image via evleaks.at, lower image via Microsoft

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