Thursday, December 02, 2010

Mucking up of a mega brand called Airtel...

Imagine a brand which is present in a paan ki dukaan in to most grand outdoor hoarding in South Mumbai. Imagine it to be there in simple leaflets to multi-crore TV ad. And then there would be millions of signage, temporary and permanent across India. And then now think – you have to change it all! Jittery? Yes, Brand revamp is perhaps one of the most excruciating times for teams involved. From brand strategy teams to creative agency and everyone else from producer to director etc. Especially, when you are working on the most visible brand in a country like India, and catering from a person earning less than Rs 5000 a month to earning more than Rs 5 Lakhs  a month!. Yes, the brand we are talking about is Airtel.

When you are changing a logo, there is no sure shot way of hitting a bull’s eye with the perfect logo to depict the change and yet get it to resonate with millions of users across. But in my view, there are three pertinent and critical things to be kept in mind when you are working at such scale –

1.     Consumer connect – Essentially, a logo should resonate with the brand and the consumers, it is like the face of a brand. Probably, the single most important factor which should be thought again and again before you roll out a new logo. But in Airtel’s case, this seems to be lacking. The new logo has left everyone (around me atleast) trying to decipher the logo. Particularly when you log on to Airtel’s website today – there is nothing which explains it.
What they should have done –
a) Brand story – They should have given a little story on why this change and what is the impact of this change. It’s a good way to keep your consumers in an intelligent way. Tell them about the change. Remember Orange change in Mumbai? – Those “hi” ads everywhere?
b) Mnemonic story – They should have done a story establishing the mnemonic first like was done by Videocon in India. Plus, they have started a contest right now to name the mnemonic! – Weird! – Have they not thought about it already?

2.     Consistency – They say for corporate brands - if you are consistent you have won the war with your competitors.  Airtel is anything but consistent!
a.     Colors – Red and white is what we expected Airtel to be. Red is Vodafone. Not Airtel!
b.    Personality – Airtel had been a leader. Yes, they were losing. But still leader by a good market share. They should have maintained that. The current logo looks like cheap imitation of Vodafone style – vibrant and bubbly.

3.     Competition – This is a no–brainer. You got to be steering away from your direct competition.
Look at the logos – you8 will find even the fonts which Airtel has now is damn similar to Vodafone! – forget the mnemonic and colors! – Consumers are sure going to be confused.

My verdict – Airtel new logo is not working. I am glad their advertising is way different is still steering them away from their other competition. But I seriously believe they have to do something different and disruptive to get the new logo connect with everyone. They have a great team, monies and creativity to do that. All the best!  

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