Now that it's majority owned by the UK's Vodafone, the South African wireless brand Vodacom has rebranded, changing its official color from blue to red and adopting a new tagline ("Power to You"). But as it notes below, it's more than just a new paint job — and there are some interesting twists and turns to its new image.
Here's how Vodacom positioned its adoption of Vodafone's corporate color, tagline ("Power to You") and mark (which you can see below):
Vodacom is Red. The change in colour is the tip of the iceberg, just the outside indication of a much bigger change at Vodacom. The role we play in our customers' lives has changed — connectivity has gone from a convenience to a basic need, and we need to turn our business on its head to make sure that we cater for this.
"Power to You" isn't just our advertising slogan — it's a new approach and new direction for Vodacom. This isn't a once-off change, it's a journey and we're confident that as the weeks and months unfold, you'll find the changes run much deeper than simply turning from blue to red.
Network, service and value, which are the three critical customer touchpoints, are all being transformed as part of this process. Red is More.
The new corporate color (in keeping, coincidentally, with its Red Alert emergency response program that launched in January to support flood victims in South Africa) was revealed to the public with a splash (and fireworks) at the Vodacom-sponsored Sowesto Music festival at Orlando Stadium on Friday:
Unveiling "one of South Africa's largest ever brand make-overs" at the festival, Vodacom Group CEO Pieter Uys told the press:
"The change in colour is the tip of the iceberg, just the outside indication of a much bigger change at Vodacom. The role we play in our customers' lives has changed - connectivity has gone from a convenience to a basic need, and we need to turn our business on its head to make sure that we cater for this.
'Power to You' isn't just our advertising slogan — it's a new approach and new direction for Vodacom. This isn't a once-off change, it's a journey and I'm confident that as the weeks and months unfold, you'll find the changes run much deeper than simply turning from blue to red."
Network, service and value, all critical customer touchpoints, are also being transformed as part of this process, he added:
"We currently have the most extensive network in South Africa, but we can't stop here. We are going to more than double the number of Vodacom 3G base stations in the country, which will take connectivity to more people than ever before. We're leading a revolution to connect the entire country — this isn't about cherry picking a few people in cities for an elite service, it's about getting a decent connection to everyone and ensuring that nobody gets left behind."
Technological innovation will remain a key part of Vodacom's network strategy as well. The company currently has more than 4,300 3G sites in South Africa, half of which are 21 Mbps enabled and just under 1,000 of which are enabled for 42 Mbps sites. To put this next generation 42 Mbps technology in perspective, with compatible modems the theoretical peak speed achievable by customers is more than 100 times faster than Vodacom's original 3G offering launched as a South African first in December 2004.
Moving on to the service and value changes underway at Vodacom, he added:
"Our customers expect the best service to match our leading network. We're rolling out totally redesigned stores to make the entire experience of Vodacom fresh and inspiring - and we'll of course showcase the latest technology. Customer service is also undergoing a revamp. By building on the success we've had opening new channels like support via Twitter seven days a week, we'll make it faster and more convenient to deal with us. Delivering tangible value to customers is the third part of the new Vodacom customer promise and will be backed up by the introduction of new products and services."
"Tonight we turned Orlando Stadium and Ponte red, and from tomorrow you're going to see this change happening everywhere else. We have to thank Soweto, the epicenter of South Africa's renaissance, for hosting this event celebrating the rebirth of Vodacom. The people of Soweto epitomise the energy and determination that we aim to show the world. We have started a journey which will see all our customers feel and experience what "Power to You" really means."
Chris Koller and Marisa Holley of Interbrand Sampson discussed the rebranding campaign on CNBC Africa. Holley observed that Vodacom "adopted Vodafone but kept the Vodacom" name, while Koller agreed that it's a "cautious" rebranding that stops short of completely rebranding to Vodafone.
They agreed that Vodafone is trying to respect the brand equity of Vodacom with a partial rebranding — adopting Vodafone's distinctive red color along with its mark or symbol for the brand's verbal identity, without going all the way by renaming the wireless carrier.
"Migrations are sensitive things," Koller commented. "You've got equity that you need to respect in previous brands, you've got new stakeholders. They certainly must be thinking about an African strategy. Vodafone will have more power within the African markets than Vodacom does. While Vodacom plays in Tanzania and some of the East African markets, other than that it's nowhere else."
Compare Vodacom's old and new branding:
As you'll see below, it's the same font and mark as Vodafone's corporate identity:
One interesting subplot in the rebranding — rival cellular brand Cell C had tried to adopt, but was ultimately denied, the same "Power to You" tagline by South Africa's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
According to Tech Central, Cell C had "lodged a counterclaim against Vodacom and its parent, the UK’s Vodafone, after it lost an earlier battle at the ASA when it was told it couldn’t use or trademark the phrase “power to you” for its advertising campaigns.
The ASA ruled that Vodafone had been using the phrase in its marketing since 2009, and thus had the right to use the phrase for Vodacom's new branding. Vodacom "also claimed that the slogan was used in advertising at OR Tambo International airport during the 2010 soccer World Cup."
Competitive scraps aside, Vodacom is pressing ahead with selling its new branding. Here's a look at how it's engaging customers and the public on Twitter:
It's driving inquiries to Facebook, where it's not restricted by Twitter's 140 characters. Its Facebook visitors land on this greeting:
Below, check out some of the launch spots accompanying Vodacom's rebranding campaign. Thoughts?