a week in wireless

A Week in Wireless – Brand matters

This week French operator Orange unveiled a frenzy of corporate tweaking, re-aligning and general mucking about. Not only did we get a new strategic plan, but Orange also proudly announced its brand is “evolving”.

There is a specific department within all large corporations that is obsessed with how the company is perceived externally. Sometimes this brings about relatively benign, concrete actions such as those associated with corporate responsibility or charity, but the ultimate attention is always on the Brand.

“The Orange brand is evolving to serve the Group’s new ambition, which is focused on customer experience,” said the announcement. “Orange wants to be an essential and useful player in people’s lives by strengthening its ties with customers and concentrating on what is essential for each person.”

Leaving aside the question of what Orange’s previous ambitions were, if they didn’t include trying to give their customers a good experience, this is a classic example of the kind of vague, aspirational language that usually accompanies these brand overhauls.

“At Omnicorp we believe things should be good and have chosen this arbitrary collection of shapes and letters as our new logo to represent that belief,” a typical branding campaign might proclaim. “In addition we’ve taken loads of photos and videos of beautiful young people with constipated smiles on their faces to imply happiness and success are the inevitable consequences of associating yourself with the new brand.”

Béatrice Mandine, Orange brand boss, said: “In the 21st century, a brand is not just a colour or the shape of its logo, it is not just ‘what it says about itself’ in advertising campaigns. A brand is built out of experience, out of the sum of all the little daily interactions that it has with its customers, both actual and virtual. As the digital revolution sweeps across our society, bringing new uses and services almost every day, the Orange brand wants to create a unique, useful experience to connect its customers with what is essential in their lives.”

The other, slightly more substantial, purpose of a corporate rebrand is to remind employees of corporate priorities. Orange is hardly alone in needing to periodically remind itself that the world doesn’t owe it a living and that if they don’t look after their customers the logo will become somewhat redundant.

Alongside the rebrand (the logo itself isn’t changing) Orange unveiled its new strategic plan – Essentials2020 – which fleshes out this ambition to do better by its punters.

“With the launch of Essentials2020, we are writing a new page in Orange’s history,” said Orange CEO Stéphane Richard. “This five-year strategic plan is focused firmly on our customers. Our ambition is based on a strong commitment to provide them with an unmatched experience on a daily basis. Our customers must be able to benefit from the digital revolution with absolute confidence, with service of exemplary quality wherever they might be.

“We want them to be individually identified in their every interaction with Orange so that they benefit from personalized services. To enrich and facilitate their lives, we want to help our customers discover the latest digital trends at the cutting-edge of innovation. This approach is focused on the expectations of our customers and the quality of their experience with Orange. And it is through this that we will set ourselves apart from the competition and find new sources of growth.”

You get the picture.

As Richard exhaustively alluded to, brands have value. Various companies, such as Interbrand, attempt to quantify this value and it will come as no surprise that Apple is currently considered the most valuable. The iPhone has many unique qualities, but not enough to explain why people are willing to pay so much more for them than equivalent competing products. That difference must be accounted for by brand.

There is also a rich history of grandiose corporate rebrands, such as the absurd £50 million BT paid for the ‘piper’ logo back in 1991 or the attempt by the Post Office to sound nice and corporate by changing its name to Consignia, which lasted less than two years. And then there’s the more straightforward move of just sticking “new” before the brand before listing all the nebulous new qualities you want associated with it.

So in gratitude to Orange for not simply going for New Orange the Informer brings you the six themes Orange’s research has unearthed as essential to the lives of its customers, around which its activities will revolve from now on. If that doesn’t work, nothing will.

new orange

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