India’s largest mobile service provider Bharti Airtel is all set to overhaul its look and come forth in a new avatar tomorrow. Recently Airtel had acquired African operations of Kuwait’s Zain Group in 15 countries at an enterprise value of $10.7 billion. Bharti had already said it will launch Airtel’s brand in Africa around October/November this year. The acquisition added about 40 million mobile phone users from African countries to Bharti Airtel’s subscriber base of over 130 million. The company has wireless operations across 18 countries – India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and 15 countries in Africa.
To please the new customers and giving it an international flavor, Airtel launched its new logo and a new signature tune. The new logo, as they say, represents a dynamic force of energy which would bring the management and customers closer. Nothing of that sort seems to be happening. Customers aren’t really happy with the change.It took a month for GAP, an apparel brand, to revert back to its original logo after analyzing conversations on social media. After all the criticism Gap released a statement on its Facebook fan page: “Thanks for everyone”s input on the new logo! We’ve had the same logo for 20 plus years, and this is just one of the things we’re changing. We know this logo created a lot of buzz and we’re thrilled to see passionate debates unfolding! So much so we’re asking you to share your designs. We love our version, but we’d like to see other ideas. Stay tuned for details in the next few days on this crowd sourcing project.”
Soon, they reacted “Since we rolled out an updated version of our logo last week on our website, we’ve seen an outpouring of comments from customers and the online community in support of the iconic blue box logo,” Gap Brand North America President Marka Hansen said in a statement.
“With intentions to go international and please global audience, a company must not lose the local flavor!” is what a friend of mine realized after listening to their new signature tune. The previous signature tune of Airtel by AR Rahman is the most downloaded ringtone in the country. In spite of recieving such respect from customers, they went ahead and changed it. One thing about that tune was that it was instantly catchy when compared to the general trend related to AR Rahman tunes / songs. The new tune lyrics is written in alien language! It looks more peppy and international in its approach. But truth be told it has destroyed the entire experience Airtel’s previous tune had set up.
Here are few screenshots from one timeline on twitter with #airtel as keyword. They are not morphed to club all negative feedback.
Out of the tweets I analysed, 19% are positive (surprisingly, after spending 300 Crores on re branding), 12% are neutral and the rest 69% are against the change. 46% have recommend spending the amount on providing better service rather than re branding, 72% have rightly agreed that previous signature tune is better than the new one. Leaving apart statistics, reading a few tweets in the time line can give an idea about the acceptance of change. Some say it looks like an inverted videocon logo, some relate it to uninor and some relate the colors with vodafone.
A London based company Brand Union has designed this new logo. Interestingly, Brand Union is associated with Vodafone’s logo as well. JWT is working on the new positioning, which says, ‘Dil jo chahe pass laye’. Airtel is expected to complete the rollout of the entire campaign in Sri Lanka in the next couple of weeks. In Bangladesh, the campaign will be rolled out in the next 30 days. In the African nations, Ogilvy will be the agency and the rollout will be completed by November 24. The campaign will continue until the middle of January next year, and will be followed by other campaigns on new offers from Airtel.
(Click to enlarge)
I am assuming that they have done their research before the launch of new logo or if they haven’t, they must consider these conversations as an extended part of research and observe the reaction over a period of time to take a final decision.