Vodafone is back with Asha & Bala

By Suraj Ramnath , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising
Published : November 03, 2017
The telecom brand has undergone a logo and tagline change from 'Power to You' to 'The Future is exciting. Ready?' globally and is promoting it with a new campaign.

Telecom brand Vodafone has recently undergone a revamp. The company has changed its logo and tagline from 'Power To You' to 'The Future is exciting. Ready?' To promote the change, the brand has come up with two new TVCs featuring Asha and Bala (Shanta Dhananjayan and V.P. Dhananjanan), the elderly couple that caught everyone's attention when the brand was promoting its #MakeTheMostOfNow campaign during IPL 2017. The new campaign has two TVCs, 'Imagine travelling the world with unlimited data' and 'Healthcare from anywhere with IoT on Vodafone'. The ads have been conceptualised by Ogilvy & Mather India and produced by Nirvana Films.

This is the explanation for the new tagline and logo given in a press note by Vodafone:

The 'Power To You' tagline was introduced in 2009. This new positioning, part of Vodafone's global rebranding exercise across 36 countries, is designed to underline the brand's belief in new technologies and digital services playing a positive role in transforming society and enhancing individual quality of life in the years ahead.

The new visual identity will place greater emphasis on Vodafone's 'speech mark' logo - the biggest change to one of the most recognised symbols of Vodafone since the hallmark logo was created in 1998. The 'speech mark' will now appear as the central graphical focus overlaid on all marketing and marketing communications collateral. The logo will also appear in a new 2D design in place of a skeuomorphic 3D approach.

From top to bottom - New Logo and Old Logo From top to bottom - New Logo and Old Logo

Sunil Sood, managing director and chief executive officer, Vodafone India, says, "As you can see, globally we have taken the high ground. We are one of the world's largest telecom companies. We have taken the high ground to connect with these changing times. And to be in step, in what I call the new exciting era, we want to help customers embrace the future as it unfolds and in an optimistic manner. Our aspirational brand, in the past, has helped differentiate us. Our brand is iconic."

From left to right - Sunil Sood and Piyush Pandey From left to right - Sunil Sood and Piyush Pandey

He adds, "Today, it is time that we renew our relationship with customers and take a step to be in tune with changing times and therefore, the brand has a new position. Our communication will position us as partners with consumers and we will handhold them and walk them through this future. We are positioning ourselves as a modern brand that is contemporary, inspiring and fit for purpose in this new era. It will position us as the brand that has a progressive view of the world; a brand that continues to command respect and trust in all that it does, one that is admired by all and loved by those who use it. Our new positioning will help us answer - why Vodafone."

Piyush Pandey, executive chairman and creative director, Ogilvy & Mather, India and South Asia, says, "I have lived with 'Power To You' for many years and humanised that tagline to the best of our ability. It is not a change of positioning, but it is the evolution of positioning from 'Power To You' to 'Inspire You'. 'Power To You' is about the 'why' to find out more and the more you discover, the more you find out, you can make it happen. What is this new Vodafone all about? Our job is to humanise things and communicate to people, not technology that boggles their brains, but opportunities that make their life so much more enjoyable and simpler that even people who are senior to me, can enjoy the beauty of technology that comes their way."

Surprisingly the brand is not going to continue with Asha and Bala in their next phase of communication.

We asked our brand experts what is the inherent risk a brand undergoes while changing the logo and tagline globally. As compared to the old ads which were a huge success, has the brand lived up to the hype and is it a good decision by the brand to not continue with the old couple in their next phase of communication?

Samit Sinha, managing partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting, says, "For a brand, the most fundamental element of its identity is its name, and therefore, it is also its unchanging (or at least the most durable) part of its identity. While many companies have changed their logos and taglines over time, very few have changed their names."

Talking about the mid 90's, Sinha recollects that the subscribers who had opted for Essar Cellphone in the mid-1990s would have witnessed their service changing names several times from Essar Cellphone to Orange to Hutch to finally Vodafone, which has now acquired Idea Cellular. "To that extent, the latest change of Vodafone's logo, tagline and communication theme, is relatively a less drastic move", he says.

Adding about the risk, Sinha says, "The risk associated with changing a brand's identity is the loss of familiarity, a possible emotional disconnect with existing consumers, potential for confusion in the marketplace, a forfeiture of past branding and marketing investments and a threat to the brand's financial value and equity. However, the risk of changing the logo while retaining the name is far less risky and changing the tagline and communication theme is the least risky. In its latest change i.e. Vodafone's logo and typeface, the change is incremental and seamless, rather than drastic and disruptive."

Samit Sinha Samit Sinha

Shouvik Roy Shouvik Roy

Talking about the new ad, Sinha says, "The new campaign seems to be a step in the right direction and I expect it to be received positively by the general public. It is possible that they may not extend the 'old couple' as their brand mascot the way they did with the pug and ZooZoos. Perhaps they see this as a tactical move and not central to the brand's long-term communication strategy."

Shouvik Roy, senior partner at YAAP, a digital content company and brand consultant, says, "They haven't done anything radical. In rebranding, there is incremental and radical. Repositioning it entirely or tweaking your positioning. This one is incremental and not radical in terms of rebranding."

Roy likes the new tagline but prefers the old logo. He says, "I don't know about the thought behind the tagline, but it looks like Vodafone is ready to go with you to the future so I like it. It sounds more consumer friendly than 'Power To You'. They introduced 'speech mark' which was amazing and they did a good job then, but now, the world is going flat and 2D and into one colour. I find the typography of the font better, but as far as the logo is concerned, the earlier one was great."

Talking about the new campaign, Roy says, "I like the previous ads more. In terms of creatives, it doesn't look any different from before."

Roy feels it is a good idea for the brand to not continue with the couple in their next phase of communication. He says, "I feel overuse of anything beyond a certain period of time, is not a great idea. It is time to move on to something else."

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