Aishwarya Ramesh

Vodafone Idea's new identity as 'Vi' draws mixed reactions

The new logo attempts to draw from the equity of brand Vodafone and brand Idea with its initials. But, how will consumers perceive the rebranding effort?

Vodafone and Idea embarked on a merger in 2018. In 2020, the final step of the merger was the announcement of a new brand identity. This included a new name for Vodafone Idea, a new logo that symbolised the coming together of the two companies, and a new ad by Ogilvy to clarify how the new name would be pronounced. The new identity has been designed by creative agency Wolff Olins.

Dunzo, the delivery platform, also saw a way to pay tribute to the changed name with a reference to Vodafone's older ads that featured a Pug dog as its mascot.

Nokia India also tweeted, welcoming the new telecom entity into the market as a partner.

Vodafone Idea is now Vi (pronounced ‘we’). "The brand integration not only marks the completion of the largest telecom merger in the world, but also sets us on our future journey to offer world-class digital experiences to one billion Indians on our strong 4G network. VIL is now leaner and agile, and the deployment of many principles of 5G architecture has helped us transform for the changing customer needs," said Ravinder Takkar, MD and CEO, Vodafone Idea.

According to a press note, the name ‘Vi’ is much more than an abbreviation of Vodafone and Idea. It is shorter, simpler and while referencing the origins of the two brands, it also reflects the collective nature of Indian society.

In the same note, the visual design of the logo is also explained. The ‘i’ is always punctuated with a bold mustard dot to reflect the throbbing and progressive pulse of India. Starting today, ‘Vi’ ads will be on TV and digital platforms, followed by a high decibel intensive multimedia campaign.

Preeti Vyas, founder and chairwoman of Vyas Giannetti Creative, an integrated design consultancy, opines that the integration of brand identities was a long time coming, but wishes that the new brand identity had been announced to the consumers at the time of the merger itself.

“When the merger was announced, it was never clear to consumers that they had merged. Nor was there any communication that followed that meaningfully expressed a new unified brand positioning and the benefits thereof,” she explains.

Preeti Vyas
Preeti Vyas

Talking about the graphic values of the logo unveiled yesterday, Vyas says that she sees the brand equity of Idea represented in the Logo, but she is not sure how people will translate the V as Vodafone. She calls it a missed opportunity for Vodafone to assert its brand values.

“What is perplexing is the expectation of people to read ‘Vi’ as ‘We’. Again that’s not an easy one, as people will find it hard to do so as it could easily be pronounced as ‘Vie’! They might need to do a fair amount of education for that, according to me. From a strategic as well as a design perspective, I’m unable to decipher what led them to choose this design and naming solution,” she admits.

Sourabh Mishra, co-founder and managing partner - Branding, Azendor Consulting, states that any new logo and brand name is an opportunity for the brand to create, or build a new story that the brand owners want to.

“'Vi' is also, perhaps, looking at a similar fresh start here - creating a new story around 'Together for Tomorrow', wherein it will hope to retain and carry forward some of the positive associations and equity built over the years with Vodafone and Idea, both very strong brands in their own right. And it will consciously try to move away from the negative associations that these brands have also collected over the years,” he says.

Sourabh Mishra
Sourabh Mishra

Mishra says that despite individual and subjective points-of-view on how effective, or ineffective the new name and logo design are, a professionally managed brand like Vodafone Idea has most definitely gone through a robust process of developing and testing these creative elements. He adds that we should wait for its customers and stakeholders to now pass the final judgement.

“While there will be stated cynicism, even from consumers, about the rebranding of a telecom brand, given the deep interaction and experience that they have had with the old brands over the years, it can't be denied that there will be some excitement and anticipation about what the change may bring to their experience of the brand. If that brand experience does not change, then consumers will be very harsh in writing off this exercise as a cosmetic makeover,” he explains.

Talking about the visual language that the new entity uses, he points out that the rebranding in the name and design, is just an expression of what the brand is 'saying'.

“Consumers are savvy enough to look at whether the brand is also delivering in what it is 'doing'. If there is a gap between the 'say' (the name and design change) and the 'do' (the actual experience delivery of the brand), then the equity of the new brand will plummet through that gap,” he concludes.

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