16 November 2017 14:58:54 IST

New brand positioning or more of the same?

Vodafone’s new logo and advertising are great but it's customer service that's more important

Vodafone, the mobile services brand — with (arguably) the most visible advertising — has changed its logo and tagline, in what is perhaps the most dramatic change since 1998. The focus seems to be on the speech mark. Also notice the tagline ‘The future is exciting. Ready?’ So, what do you think? Does it excite you?

This leads me to an important question. Why do brands change their logo? Of course, if you are Flipkart, you might change your branding every few years but other companies are not so finicky. Most firms change their logos when they renew their business focus, or are acquired, wish to stay contemporary, or believe that they are just dandy when compared with their rivals.

This exercise by Vodafone seems to take cognisance of the fact that dramatic changes are happening in technology, and that it’s easy for the average consumer to be psyched by all this. It is worth remembering that technology makes our lives better, easier, and more convenient. This is precisely what Vodafone attempts to do with its new campaign which supports this identity and positioning change.

Travelling abroad? Don’t wait for WiFi

Whilst the positioning is new, the advertising features models who were featured in the old campaigns, and are celebrities in their own right — Asha and Bala. The globe-trotting couple land in a town in Europe and the receptionist, in his own inimitable way, asks our hero how his flu was, clearly a solicitous enquiry about how good the flight was! People in Europe have a different way of speaking English, don’t they.

When the man at the hotel’s front desk offers them WiFi, Bala tells him they don’t need it because they have Vodafone. He also points to his wife, who is busy shooting pictures of the front lobby and its facilities. And they seem to have unlimited data — which is certainly a rarity when one travels abroad.

Indian travellers abroad tend to be paranoid about data usage as they are generally slapped with heavy bills. Today, as some of us become seasoned travellers, the first thing we do when we land in a foreign country is switch our data roaming off and desperately look for WiFi at every coffee shop and pub.

If Vodafone really has a good global roaming scheme — as advertised — that is so cheap that people can use it freely, then it is a great boon. But then, I tend to be very sceptical about mobile advertising, as most flirt with the truth. Here’s the commercial that we have been speaking about:

Diabetic? Have a pastry!

The next commercial, which seems to have been shot abroad as well, features Bala getting ready to have a huge pastry. His shocked wife, who comes in a bit late, sees him ready to devour the forbidden food, looks at him incredulously, reminding him about his diabetes.

Bala triumphantly points to his mobile phone, which shows a message from his doctor informing Bala of his blood sugar level being low. How could he miss an opportunity to eat something that he is normally denied?



I could relate to this commercial, given the restrictions that seem to be imposed on my diet, and with such depressing regularity.

Age and technology

While it is probably true that technology fazes older people and that younger people embrace it as readily as a duck takes to water, there is no denying the fact that modern life would be incomplete without technology. And it is not as complex, or as unmanageable as some of us think it is. What better way of advertising the advantages of technology than showing celebrity models taking advantage of it?

But does showing older models — however cute — make the brand seem older than it actually is? Not really. If showing young people made brands ‘young’, then advertising would be a lot simpler than it actually is. There are a number of reasons that determine a brand’s personality, not least of which is the tone of voice that the advertising adopts. Vodafone’s tone in its advertising, over the years, has been consistent and likeable, whether it is the boy and the pug dog, the zoo-zoos, or our more recent celebrity models.

Let me end with my favourite refrain. The advertising is the easy part for a mobile service provider. The more complex parts are the coverage, the service, and responsiveness to the consumer. My experience with Vodafone has been average, at best.

Then again, at least advertising, which is the easy part, is being handled well by the brand. I just wish companies would focus more on meeting customer expectations rather than just having interesting advertising.

How well does your brand handle customer expectations?