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Airtel changes its brand Identity

Posted by RB on December 4, 2010

Airtel changed its logo recently from a fairly generic logo unit into a ‘specially designed logo type that is modern, vibrant and friendly’, as the airtel’s website claims. It  is also supposed to signal their resolve to be ‘accessible, while the use of all lowercase is their recognition for the need for humility’. For the largest telecom company in India with over 200Mn Subscribers, this is either a prescient sentiment of the rough waters ahead, or maybe just the meaningless twitching of a nervous marketing managers/ owner. The impact of this Rs 300 Cr exercise that airtel seems to investing behind the change and the communication effort of the same, remains to be seen.

Airtel Change of logo

Looking at the logo’s of Zain Vs the new airtel logo, one is stuck my the similarity of them too. This may well be a conscious decision and could have something to do with the acquisition of Zain Telecom by the Bharti group, a $10.7 Bn investment across Africa.










India’s own Mozart , A. R Rehman, has composed a haunting tune that has a distinct african flavour mixed with many modern sound influences. I personally love the music, but in the land of bollywood with its very own Desi music and rhythms, how many people will relate to this tune of a mass brand seems doubtful.

Then there are suggestions that the logo also implies ‘@’, a symbol for the internet, which will become a key service with 3G about to be rolled out.

As i pass through the crowded lanes of mumbai I am struck by the similarity of the look of this logo with one of Airtel’s competitors in India, Vodafone. From a distance, even the typeface seems to be similar.

I am sure that this would have been debated endlessly before the final decision was taken. But the final decision still looks strange.

So what would prompt India’s largest telecom company to undergo this transition and spend so much money on this  change of a symbol?

It is not that 3G is going to be a differentiator for the brand since everyone is about to jump the bandwagon.

There is the impending threat of number portability, with Airtel maybe poised to lose the most, since it has the most subscribers, and assuming that most telecom services will become commoditised with nothing much to choose between any operator. So maybe a more emotional connection with the brand may help with retaining and attracting more consumers. The USPs are dying in the era of zero barriers to launching unique services in Telecoms.

The marketeers task is indeed complicated by the above factors. But will a mere tune, and a squiggle typeface address the challenges? Or will this entire exercise be as meaningless as the lyrics of the beautiful song, with the inevitable still becoming the reality?

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Celebrity endorsement in india, an overkill

Posted by RB on March 21, 2010

Just Saw this report by adex on celebs endorsement in 2009-

The most standout observation is that 5 celebs endorse 68 brands between them (M S dhoni is highest at 19 brands!).

So with every 2nd advert now carrying these top 5 celebs, I assume a new kind of clutter gets generated, the believability suffers and the whole point of leveraging on the strength of celebs goes out of the window. What was once a shortcut to cutting through the clutter won’t work anymore and brand managers need to actually sell the product on its own merit and need to get back to doing the hard work of developing an outstanding product.

Reminds me of that awesome movie ‘kate and leopold’, in which Leopold (Hugh Jackson) a 19th century duke who happens to wake up in the 21st century, is asked to endorse a product but soon realise that he himself dosent like the taste of it, and is then unable to understand why Kate (Meg Ryan) is still asking him to endorse a flawed product and says ‘ when someone is involved in something entirely without merit, one withdraws’.

I wonder who needs to heed that message – the Celebs or the Marketeers?

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Is Privacy Monetizable?

Posted by RB on March 21, 2010

Just finished watching this documentary on the bbc about the internet. The presenter took a sceptical view on the cultural impact of internet, and spoke about some of the poorly understood issues of privacy. Documentary cited example of how the dutch govt records of early 19th century, which were collected for the good of citizens to plan facilities for various religions to dispose off the dead, were abused by the invading nazi forces to identify people of various religion and their subsequent persecution. Thus, even though the intention today is good, the future impact is not easy to fathom.

The view of Eric Schmidt from Google was that ‘people are happy to give personal information in return for good service’.

But I am not sure if people even know what they have actually given away to google or other companies online, and if they will still be happy if they knew of the possibilities of all the abuse of the information.

Paranoia hits, and scenarios pop up in my mind  – what could happen to all that data if an evil corporate buys out the ‘do no evil’ google? Or what if regulation tomorrow forces all companies to share historical usage records publicly of all users to ban anonymity online? Or that governments across the world fall and an evil dictator conquers the world and lays his/her hands on google servers and wants to identify all people with certain traits?

I am wondering if someone out there can exploit my paranoia and maybe make me pay with the assurance that i will leave no footprints online…

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