afaqs!

Airtel - A new beginning

By Anushree Bhattacharyya, Devina Joshi and Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, New Delhi and Mumbai | In Advertising | February 07, 2011
After eight years Airtel, deciding that it was time to change, came up with a new look and proposition. When it began its journey in 1995, the concept of mobile telephony was a distant dream as there were less than one million phones, all fixed lines, in India.

After eight years Airtel, deciding that it was time to change, came up with a new look and proposition. When it began its journey in 1995, the concept of mobile telephony was a distant dream as there were less than one million phones, all fixed lines, in India. The initial look of the brand was designed by then national creative director of Rediffusion Y&R, Gullu Sen, with the aim of introducing the concept of mobile voice services in the country. Hence, the two-swoosh design was developed and the brand was positioned as Touch Tomorrow.

The next big wave, came in 2002, when the brand went through a transition in which all its sub-brands such as Telemedia, DTH, and the Enterprise business were brought under one roof and branded as Airtel. The new look was then designed by Bangaluru-based brand consulting and design company, Ray + Keshavan.

Now eight years later, Airtel went under the knife again. It re-introduced itself with a brand new logo - with just the letter 'a', because it felt the need for a symbol, so that the consumer could easily connect. It also changed its positioning to 'Dil jo chahe paas lay' which meant - whatever one's heart desires, Airtel will bring it closer. It also got itself a fresh ringtone, created by musician A R Rahman.

According to, Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults, the current feedback on about Airtel's new look is negative. He adds, "Airtel is an iconic brand in the telecom category. However, with the relaunch the brand has softened too much. In a bid to capture the youth, the brand has lost its sharpness."

Bijoor further feels that the new logo is not "new" as the symbol resembles one or two brand symbols, which are already present in the market. Citing the example of one such brand, he explains, "The new logo which is a small letter 'a' very much resembles the Wall's logo, which takes the point further that there is no uniqueness attached with the new logo."

Airtel followed up the logo change with a countrywide campaign encompassed television channels across all genres. Additionally, the brand was visible in all the daily papers across language, with a radio campaign going on at the same time across all the stations. While it was an easy task to capture the attention of the urban consumer, grabbing eyeballs in the rural parts of country was more difficult.

Overnight, all the dhabas, the walls as well as mobile vans went through the make over and were re-branded with the new Airtel look. It even branded the Delhi-Bengaluru Rajdhani Express with the look - the branded train will be seen chugging across the country for two quarters. Meanwhile, Airtel launched a digital campaign called 'The Name Game', inviting people to name its new logo. The brand has also introduced its 3G service, which it believes will open new window of opportunities.

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