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“If this business were split up, I would give you the land and bricks and mortar, and I would take the brands and trade marks, and I would fare better than you.” — John Stuart, Chairman of Quaker (c.a. 1900)
Brands came into existence as early as trade when herd owners used hot irons to mark and identify their cattle. This mark later developed with the industrial revolution where factories used certain elements to distinguish their products from others. As people moved into cities and were no longer exposed to the manufacturing source of the products available, their purchasing decision became influenced by the brands that they knew. Brands have come a long way since, and have become representative of a significant value of their parent companies.
operators will need to look to their brand’s emotional appeal. price will increasingly become a competitive priority. Then. pricing will not be a sustainable lever to play in the long term.” If the above is applicable in a developed market like the UK. setting up a telecom operator is becoming increasingly standardized. the impact of a trusted brand would deliver much higher value in high-growth markets where corporations are less customer oriented. Already from the early start-up stage. the main differentiator to attract customers becomes the brand (look & feel. Since there are caps in the functional axis (limited to network capabilities) and financial axis (restricted by profitability and business sense). Improved customer service and some degree of customized products and services will push the functionality axis slightly higher.of origin. Branding in this case is usually regarded as a mere visual differentiation between operators As the more operators enter the market. recruit the same regional telecom experts from existing operators. and experience) Operators in a monopolistic situation typically focus on slowly adding incremental functionality in order to make customers spend more money. as the market becomes mature. and most likely use the same company to develop their SIM cards and packaging. communication. therefore increasing revenue. a brand’s emotional appeal is always limitless and only capped by the operator and its communication agency’s creativity 3 . Monopolies would regard neither price nor brand as priorities because customers have no other alternatives or benchmark in the market As the second player enters the market. the investors choose one of three or four main companies to setup their network. In order to differentiate.
a brand must be substantial.” . from deciding on the branding approach to sustaining the brand in the long run. This is because there exists an upper limit (or best of breed) for distribution models. Exhibit 2: the best of breed brand examples which show how to create a sustainable difference If we take a look at the main pillars of a telecom value proposition. having a distinguishing brand may be more important than ever as telecom providers seek to define their places in a complex web of supply options. handsets. – Nakheel has developed three palm islands in addition to a set of islands representing the world map. off the coast of Dubai • AT&T killed off the Cingular brand (worth USD 6. Single operator (re)branding efforts can be managed through individual functions.9% of companies surveyed by the Economist engage in corporate social responsibility activities to have a better brand / reputation • Nakeel.6 billion) in order to strengthen its own name and empower it with a mobile offering 4 . the Dubai based real estate developer has committed AED 500 million to fund research and development activity. customer service. The brand must define and deliver differentiators that represent a value proposition to customers. we notice that it is almost impossible to create sustainable differentiation in any of the elements.The process of building a global telecom brand “In the deregulated markets of today’s telecom industry. Below are some examples of brand activities that go beyond all foreseeable benchmarks: • Emirates Airlines signs the biggest club sponsorship deal in English football history with Arsenal FC worth approximately GBP 100 million and gained naming rights to Arsenal’s football arena “Emirates Stadium” • 52. and promote active engagement with international experts on the issues of sustainable development. tariffs. products and services. Given the myriad of choices. construction.“The Value of Branding in Telecom Today” by Tyco Telecom USA The process of building a global brand can be divided into five key stages. provided a specific department is assigned to manage the initiative across the organization. • Deciding on the branding approach • Developing a governance model • Defining the corporate identity • Deploying the new brand • Sustaining the brand The role of a project management office (PMO) is crucial in a global or regional (re)branding project to hold the different elements together and ensure timeliness and consistency of the different steps across all the functions of the operation. and coverage. offering more than just a logo and a tag line. whereas a brand is not limited by any such ceiling. management and governance of coastal communities around the world.
Deciding on the branding approach Leveraging on a multinational brand Monolithic brands are necessary for pan-regional operators to develop global brand equity from all communication activities in individual markets An early assessment on the convenience to move towards a monolithic or multibrand approach needs to be conducted prior to commencing any new brand identity development exercise. and advertising ideas? • How big is my existing local brand equity in each market? • Do I have an experienced group branding function capable of succeeding in the endeavor? ExhibiT 3: Brand architecture components Strategic options brand architecture brand hierarchy model business divisions approach Product lines ► Monolithic ► Endorsed ► Multiple ► Product/service divisions ► Customer usage-driven divisions ► Payment method (prepaid. products and services. In order to do this. postpaid) ► Usage/user type (premium. youth) ► ► ► ► Iconic Descriptive names Technology names Suggestive names business divisions approach brand hierarchy model Service naming Product lines Service naming Classification Classification ► Color coding ► Icons and stylization ► Service images Source: Delta Partners analysis 5 . several key questions need to be thoroughly discussed and answered: • Can I have the same strategy across all operations. or are there significant differences? • Can I leverage my footprint to have positive spillover in terms of media.
as they neither have the advantage of developing one regional brand campaign targeting all OpCos. nor local campaigns with spill over to other regional Different brand hierarchy models Due to the vast wave of mergers and acquisitions in the MENA region. business division approach. service names. Having multiple sub-brands would also result in brand fragmentation losing the focus that can be achieved through strategic investments in maintaining a single identity. This has resulted in fragmented identities for holding companies.Developing the brand architecture Operators should define a clear brand architecture for customers and employees to understand the way in which the brands within a company’s portfolio are referred to and differentiated from one another in terms of both market offering and management structure. Pros: Maintaining several brands can be very expensive for telecom holding companies. and a classification method. Brand architecture includes the brand hierarchy model. Every time a company purchases a new operator it is faced with the daunting question: to rebrand or not to rebrand. ExhibiT 4: Example of multiple branding . It denies them economies of scale benefits.Orascom Telecom brand hierarchy (May 2008) 6 . Below are some pros and cons of rebranding. local markets. product line definitions. and the loss of global leverage in operations which would result in higher brand equity. telecom operators have inherited a multitude of brands (see Exhibit 4).
Despite all to relate to the brand and virtually impossible for the operator to build brand equity. to expectations. the concept of a monolithic brand is gaining popularity among telecom operators in the MENA region. In many cases a single operator would have had several different identities within the period of a few years which makes it very difficult for customers Cons: Re-branding can be a daunting task especially in cases where existing brands have high equity. A monolithic brand is a single brand used in all markets and across all product lines. and changing a brand has deep repercussions on company perception across all stakeholders. starting from customer satisfaction. Brand equity transfer is never comprehensive. having changed its identity six times over a period of seven years (see Exhibit 5). transition efforts a company will lose some of its customer loyalty. and adoption.In order to tackle the above situation. In the same spirit Vodafone decided to drop the “live” and “3G” logos from all their ads to avoid having sub-brands that dilute the overall Vodafone brand image. perception. Another issue to be considered is the re-branding history of certain operators. An example of such an operator is currently known as MTN Syria. This approach was followed by MTC who has developed the new Zain brand and is applying it across all existing and new operations. The only way to minimize the loss is through extensive research and testing. because changing brands frequently would result in a perception of desperation and low credibility. ExhibiT 5: Evolution of MTN Syria’s brand identity (2000-2007) 2000 Q1 2001 Q2 2001 Q4 2004 Q3 2005 Q3 2007 7 .
A steering committee comprised of empowered decision makers from each function should be set up to coordinate project plans and ensure complete internal alignment and progress on all matters. possibly CEOs serve as the brand’s primary Since branding directly or indirectly impacts all areas across an organization.e. different stages of brand development. IBM) • Global brand teams: Teams responsible for managing the global brand consisting of brand representatives from different parts of the world. the (re)branding project needs to be sponsored by the CEO.Developing a governance model Brands should be sponsored by the CEO (the ultimate brand champion) to ensure a consistent and powerful image across geographies In order to get the necessary attention. the responsibility for global brand leadership can follow four possible configurations: • business management teams: Whereby each product category is run by a global category team who work in R&D. it requires synchronized efforts from each function within the company. Their endorsement should be conveyed through company-wide events highlighting the benefits to be gained from (re)branding and its implications on all areas of the organization. manufacturing and marketing within their respective regions.e. Sony) • Global brand managers: Branding experts for the company who lie just below the top line management.e. not by being involved in every decision. and different competitive contexts (i. but usually don’t have sign-off authority on marketing programs (i. According to a study by Harvard Business Review(4). advocates and nurturers (i.e. 8 . This team defines the identity and positioning of brands in their categories throughout the world (i. There needs to be an internal structure in place (usually set by the Chief Commercial Officer or Marketing Director) to manage the branding process. but through acting as an endorser and reference point to push the process forward in deadlock situations and managing high-level subjective differences. Proctor and Gamble) • brand champions: Senior executives with other responsibilities. Lycra) This structure should be replicated at each operating company / country and coordinated by a global project management office reporting to the group CEO and CCO in the case of a multinational operator.
9 . which needs to be translated across all the activities and be reflected in the culture of the organization. while incorporating local. It is also important to check that the name defined does not have negative connotations in any language and not directly related to another branded product (poignant check-points include the availability of an online domain name and ease of pronunciation) Finally. which is best achieved by involving the Board at early stages. France Telecom’s single brand for internet. This requires final Board approval. and customer service quality by default. By doing the In mature markets where customers expect coverage. regional.Defining the corporate identity Brand positioning should come from within Brand positioning should be specific and meaningful with achievable objectives reflecting the ideology of the operator as a whole Because a brand represents the image and reputation of a telecom operator. Other research should be done through workshops to select the brand name and derive the brand values. There have been mistakes by telecom companies on both sides of the spectrum either by being too narrow focusing on connecting people For example. Internal and external research should be done to define the conceptual target and positioning. the operator should establish clear guidelines and foundations for positioning the new brand. brands should have a positioning that goes beyond those basic needs. and to profile the segments. qualitative research should validate conceptual target and brand values. It is therefore necessary to carry out research and internal assessments prior to brand development. roaming. television and mobile services highlights the power of being “open” with no restrictions to wires. above. voice. whereas Orange. it should truly reflect its ideals. Vodafone considers mobility at the heart of its business and reflects that through highlighting the “now” indicating the power of mobility and allowing customers to aspire to it. and global company strategy in addition to competitive landscape.
(which is the minimum requirement) or too broad about enjoying life and the future (which ends up being an oversell or over promise). specific vs. yet somewhat specific in order to be relevant to the services provided and have an achievable objective (as opposed to over promising). generic and functional vs. the “now” whereby you can get instant access to whatever you like anytime. Their effectiveness is a result of the promise being aspirational yet achievable. Emotional ► Orange The future is bright ► Al Jawal With you ► du Add life to life ► Vodafone Make the most of now ► Mobinil Communicate from the heart ► Qtel Let’s connect ► t-Mobile Stick together Generic ► Mobily My world. Brands that are very functional usually commoditize their offering and their promise tends to reflect what the service is as opposed to an inspiring call to action that stakeholders can buy into. emotional. while related to the industry and the offering. My choice Specific ► O2 See what you can do ► MtN Everywhere you go ► Etisalat Reach ► Nokia Connecting people Functional Desirable positioning Source: Delta Partners analysis 10 . no matter where you are or what you are doing. A particularly effective promise has been developed focusing on the key benefit of mobility. The general criteria for a company promise is that it needs to be somewhat emotional for customers to aspire to. ExhibiT 6: Telecom brand promises as portrayed through operator selling lines Company positioning or promises can be mapped across two axes. Being in the middle generally results in a bland brand that is neutral to everything.
placement. This is because the CI agency is viewed to be more focused on design and image as opposed to advertising oriented . such behavior generally results in a fragmented (non-cohesive) brand Once the previous steps are developed the creative part of logo development should commence.yet they are the agency responsible for the identity under which advertising falls. consumer and communication insights. presuming that they are the responsibility of HR and investor relations. agency has developed such guidelines for the Vodafone brand explaining the “make the most of now” positioning. Such guidelines are intended to further elaborate on the positioning statement. This includes advertising templates. etc. as opposed to colors and visuals The target audience of a brand must always include all stakeholders in the company . It is recommended to have A typical gap found in the Middle East and Africa is the lack of advertising and communication guidelines. brand. It is apparent that when agencies have ownership of a brand project they develop better quality work. and customers. in most cases starting with the research. In some cases when the decision is taken to develop these guidelines. photography. Corporate Identity agencies are usually involved at very early stages of the brand development process. and the insights behind it in order to ensure a consistency across the different messages delivered through advertising.namely employees. creation of values. the CI agency would proceed to developing a comprehensive brand look and feel guidelines booklet. giveaways. shareholders. This is done through a Corporate Identity (CI) agency. the ad agency. while elaborating on how to best communicate or advertise the brand. positioning. a Once a visual identity is developed. stationary. literature.Developing the brand A brand is more prominent in the feeling customers get after interacting with a company and is best catered to through managing overall communication and experience. or both should develop them. and finally the visual identity. colors. tone of voice. . Vodafone’s communication The target audience of a brand must always include all stakeholders in 11 the advertising agency develop the advertising guidelines since they are the party applying them. instructions on logo usage. This document clarifies the commercial. A common mistake by many companies is not regarding employees and shareholders as target audience when developing and communicating the brand. tough debate may occur on whether the CI agency.
In other examples of sensory branding.namely employees. Apple has developed the iPod touch GOOGlE brANd buildiNG Google has been ranked as the top global brand of 2008 according to the Brandz ranking by Millward Brown Optimor. research showed that 80% of people recognize Singapore airlines from its scent alone without having to see the logo. shareholders. Sensory branding is an innovative branding methodology that allows the brand to appeal to each of the five senses. and through their philosophy to “push the limits of existing technology to provide a fast. on its wet towels. ExhibiT 7: Some examples of brands who use sensory branding Coke bottle Singapore Airlines scent iPhone touch screen Nokia tune 12 . This approach has generated very rewarding results across a range of different industries but has not been fully exploited by telecom operators to date. The Google brand was built on customer experience. and embedded in its leather seats. you notice that Google has not developed any traditional advertising campaigns. Coca Cola reverted to the authentic bottle design to preserve a visual distinction.” Despite not having any traditional ads and no monolithic brand Google has managed to build the world’s best brand by focusing on the customer and exuding simplicity. In order to create a brand experience that appeals and applies to all of these audiences. When you take a closer look however. In this pursuit Singapore Airlines have created a proprietary perfume (Stefan Floridian Waters) used by all its staff. A common mistake by many companies is not regarding employees and shareholders as target audience when developing and communicating the brand. accurate and easy-to-use search service that can be accessed from anywhere. some companies have been resorting to sensory branding. Google is a brand that anyone who uses the internet has interacted with and most probably loved.the company . and customers. Nokia has developed a signature sonic branding that is being adapted to the cultures of all the markets it operates in. and the iPhone in addition to many other products that appeal to the sense of touch. According to Martin Lindstrom’s book Brand Sense. Such behavior generally results in a fragmented (non-cohesive) brand. presuming that they are the responsibility of HR and investor relations.
There are many other parties involved in deploying and communicating the brand. it is passed on (along with the guidelines) to the operator’s advertising agency.Deploying the new brand Deploying brand strategy is a task that requires intricate understanding of the company strategy and therefore should be developed by the strategy department and later handed over to an operator’s MarCom team Most of the work for developing a brand is done after the development of the actual logo. which is responsible • Corporate profiles and annual reports • Any other advertising requirements ExhibiT 8: Parties involved in the deployment and communication of the new brand Ci agency ► ► ► Values and positioning Visual identity Identity application guidelines New brand Advertising agency Media agency PR agency Web design agency DM agency Retail design ► ► ► ► ► ► Strapline Launch campaign Corporate stationary P&S campaigns Corporate profile Annual reports ► ► Media bookings Media presence strategy ► ► ► Media communications Press releases Events ► ► ► ► Corporate website Micro sites Flash animations Intranet ► ► Direct mail CRM ► ► ► Own shops Dealers Office environments 13 . A brand is built with every piece of communication. for developing all of the brand communication including: • A strapline (in a few cases this is developed by the CI agency) • A launch campaign and strategy • Corporate stationery • Products and services communication After the identity is developed by the CI agency. which includes the company logo.
DM. and the advertising and media agencies as needed This approach usually results in un-integrated campaigns because the media booking. Brand strategy governance The brand is best initially overlooked and managed by either the strategy department or professional services teams directly involved in the overall operator strategy. and PR are done independently from the advertising concept. PR. they are superseded by the marketing department and C-levels who also occasionally contact the advertising agency directly or provide direct comments to them in meeting • Each agency is responsible for directly coordinating with the advertising agency • The PR department is treated as a separate entity and coordinates and coordination process becomes entangled and hard to follow. and later handed over to the operators’ MarCom 14 .Even though the advertising agency is generally regarded as the brand guardian. web content. which can be summarized into the following: • MarComs manage each of the agencies individually without leveraging on a single integrated communication approach involving all parties • Even though the MarCom department is in charge of managing the brand internally and with the communication agencies. separately with all internal departments. the PR agency. A best practice to streamline the process would involve: • The MarCom department having more autonomy over the brand • The advertising agency being allowed to manage all forms of advertising by having the authority to manage all third parties • The PR department having a parallel coordination stream with CxOs and the PR agency – yet aligning with MarCom on brand-related PR content. there are many additional partners and suppliers involved including media booking. direct marketing and retail / interior-design agencies – all in addition to third party suppliers usually responsible for printing and execution. web design. The management Operators in the Middle East generally follow an ad hoc communication management process.
teams to manage across different communication agencies and disciplines. Assigning one of these companies could help integrate all branding and communications across geographies under one roof allowing sister companies to work together on all campaigns and communication initiatives. DM. which gives them a clear bird’s eye view of the overall business as opposed to operating in one discipline only. and online services. and global communication ROI benchmarks • Incorporates forecasted service launch schedules • Is consistent with market segmentation (developed by the strategy team) • Is constantly updated to respond to detailed penetration figures (which are closely managed by the strategy team) Ideally and to help the above process work seamlessly a telecom operator should try and assign a regional multi discipline advertising group to manage their brand. By managing the branding process. media booking. The strategy teams in the region are more dominant in C-level and executive management meetings and decisions than communication agencies and the MarCom teams. PR. ExhibiT 9: Simplified process structure to ensure alignment. Large advertising agencies are usually part of a holding company that offers advertising. effectiveness and efficiency 15 . the strategy team can develop a brand strategy that: • Takes into consideration the operator’s requirements in the short and long term • Adheres to financial forecasts.
and learn why the car was stolen 16 .Sustaining the global brand Sustaining a global brand requires strong alignment between messages and media channels to ensure optimal communication. To target video gamers. On the Last Resort Retrieval website. faxes. phone calls. incentivizing brand managers who deliver good results • An online brand management tool that would help different operations have access to and The approval process needs to be robust and enforced to ensure compliance with CASE Study: Audi “the Art of the heist” To launch the Audi A3 in the USA. the placement of police tape around the crime area. short approval times in order not to disrupt the work flow and increase time to market. and supported by newspaper ads. This can be done through: • Brand audits that take place regularly for each operation • Quarterly presentations from each operation to the Group Branding function • Putting motivational processes in place. Audi created a twist whereby a game developer is trying to find the car. billboards. and clear guidelines on image and positioning in addition to those of logo application. there were thousands of leads including photos. The Audi USA website showed that the company contracted a firm specialized in the retrieval of high end stolen art named Last Resort Retrieval. distribution and continuous brand auditing with global consistency Global brand management requires a rigid control process involving a single brand champion from the holding company to manage the overall brand and approve all applications across the different markets for consistency. The following day at the New York International Auto Show the car was replaced with signs indicating that the car was missing. approval at concept level and artwork stage to avoid rejecting the concept after all the work has been done. Audi allowed people to participate in the communication campaign that went as follows: A live theft of the first Audi A3 in the USA from the dealership on Park Avenue in New York. and emails Campaign results include: • 45 million PR impressions • 500. security guards running after a suspect. The event was covered by bloggers around the world. To make sure people were able to follow the story. Passers-by would see two people break the window and steal the car. and the handout of wanted flyers. maximum effectiveness. and TV ads asking people to help find the car and providing response channels. and gives live interviews at E3 the largest video game expo in the world. Last Resort Retrieval was also advertised for months in the classifieds section of high end magazine (to show that it’s a legitimate company).000 leads to dealers • Over 2 million unique visits to the Audi USA website Source: Adforum review all the work developed on the brand across geographies. you could visit the blog of Todd who was intently following the action from day 1 and posting all the updates and viral films A few weeks later people would have noticed that the mystery was solved.000 story participants • Over 10. and the public would not know how the car was stolen.
Not having this data is a lost opportunity for effective communications. MarCom departments usually take a very safe. risk averse position that does not contribute to strongly differentiating the brand. 17 . Another lack of flavor is generally a result of media behavior and testing concepts prior to going on air. Ads are either too tactical with strong predominant calls to action along the lines of “buy now” (to satisfy the marketing teams). or brand ads which are very vague and provide over promising messages (these are usually accompanied with expensive TV productions intended to be a show off statement as opposed to getting closer to the customer). regional operators tend to adopt the safe brand option which results in killing creativity In many cases telecom brands are perceived and treated as personal belongings of the chairman or CEO who is often influenced by revenue generating potential held in the marketing department. Therefore MarCom. This is mainly due to the lack of trust in regional corporate identity agencies and resorting to UK companies for developing local identities for geographies they are not very familiar with. and generally results in inefficient mass communication that in many cases is irrelevant to many customers and eventually weakens the customer-brand bond. Another regional issue that limits targeted communication is the limited availability of data about existing customers and their behaviors. It is strongly recommended that MarCom departments engage in more research activities for defining target audience The advertising approach in the region has two extremes: brand and tactical.Common pitfalls observed in ME and Africa In order to reach an internal consensus on brand related matters. have little decision making power over the brand. as a pure cost center. MEA telecom operators usually lack a strong local flavor in their brand identity. Due to this.
product launches. and make them the final decision makers for all brand related matters • A CEO should be involved in branding at its early stages to ensure a smooth roll-out across the organization • brand promises should be customer centric. aspirational yet down to earth. Fragmentation is observed department. and achievable • All brand related communication should be consistent and integrated across as many media as possible • there should be open channels between MarCom and customers as opposed to having all messages filtered through customer service or marketing • the MarCom function needs to have authority over marketing to ensure that the brand transcends products. and technical features 18 .utilization. whereby all campaigns are developed for mass media and very little effort is placed on targeting specific audiences that the service is developed for. services. a clear consistent strategy. Regional players should put more effort in communication consolidation by developing a central branding Fragmentation remains a key characteristic of telecom branding and communications in the Middle East and Africa. and in different subsidiaries across geographies. KEy tAKE-AwAyS • brands are the only effective and sustainable differentiators for telecom operators in the long run • telecom branding is still in its infancy compared to other industries • the benefits of having a monolithic brand outweigh those of maintaining a multi-brand approach • it is essential to give autonomy to brand managers. and local brand guardians in each country. across different brand campaigns.
Full article available on: http://www. Europe and Japan that have successfully developed strong brands across countries were interviewed 19 .pdf 2.Conclusion Similar to salad dressing.” said obesity prevention expert Dr. HR strategy. FOOtNOtES 1.uk/static/archive/Oftel/publications/ research/2001/bran1101. corporate culture. the full document is available on http://www. The salad dressing should fit with the salad context.org. suggesting fast-food marketing reaches the very young. and hence brands and promises need to be tailored to suit the local market and the telecom context.reuters. According to Reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSN06428781 3. researchers said. The brand dressing should have a strong prominent flavor that becomes prevalent in all aspects of an operator from the sign at the door to the customer care welcoming statement. and investor relations. Source: MillwardBrown Optimor.pdf 4.brandz. stakeholders minds and create a form of addiction that gets reinforced at every touch point.smith. products and services. Thomas Robinson of the Stanford University School of Medicine. Only a bold distinct flavor can make the brand promise “stick” in A salad dressing is always developed by the chef: (in this case MarCom) never the restaurant manager or any other staff working at the restaurant. which is why you do not find ranch dressing on a Chinese salad.ofcom. The full research by conway. U.S. a strong brand penetrates all the conventional ingredients of a telecom operator and gives it a distinct flavor differentiated from other operators offering the same products and services. “Overwhelmingly. whose work appears in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Preschoolers preferred the taste of burgers and fries when they came in McDonald’s wrappers over the same food in plain wrapping. From “The Lure of Global Branding” article in Harvard Business Review (November – December 1999) in which executives from 35 companies in the US. advertising.rose is available at: http://www.com/BrandZ_2007_Ranking_ Report. kids chose the one that they perceived was from McDonald’s.
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