Just until a few years back, Mobilink was what many marketers in Pakistan would describe as a “true telecom brand” – dominant in terms of brand image, brand strategy and brand recall.
Sadly, the Mobilink of today has faltered on all these qualities, despite being the market leader in terms of mobile subscribers.
When Mobilink’s branding journey began in 1998, its Jazz brand defined the telecom industry in terms of a strong and well thought-out brand image.
Marketers and consumers alike will have no difficulty in remembering that Jazz differentiated itself not along the lines of price and coverage as other telecom brands were doing, but on being a brand in its own right.
Its tag line “Aur Sunao” was popularized by the definitive Jazz Girl Iman Ali and leading cricketers which struck a chord with the masses immediately.
Jazz migrated easily from being a power brand to becoming known as a premium brand personifying value and style in the pre-paid market. Jazz was the brand every mobile subscriber aspired to be associated with.
Mobilink defined the post-paid market equally well when it launched Indigo which created incredible recall with its bold yet sophisticated communication strategy.
With the actor Shaan as its brand ambassador, elegance and corporate preeminence became synonymous with the essence of the brand. Some even say, the actor made Mobilink Indigo. Or perhaps it was the other way around.
Either way, Mobilink’s dominance even in the post-paid market was hard to match by other telecom brands at the time such as Telenor, Warid and Ufone.
In 2005, it pioneered post-paid handset-centric marketing (where subscribers can find a one-stop-shop with the telecom operator to acquire both a post-paid connection and a mobile phone as part of the same value added package) by introducing the Blackberry handsets to the local market complete with Blackberry’s enterprise messaging service giving further testament to Mobilink’s brand strength.
And there was resounding truth in the company’s tag line “Mobilink: Pakistan’s favorite cellular service.” Everyone can remember the time when Mobilink was in fact a preferred choice with its robust communication resonating with the customers across the county.
Alas, “how have the mighty fallen; and the weapons of war perished!” – how apt this Biblical quote appears to be for Mobilink’s current brand image.
From the continuing downfall of its Jazz brand due to misplaced faith in new brand ambassadors and price wars to an eroding post-paid base for Indigo and an unsuccessful attempt at capturing the so-called “youth” market via its Jazba brand, Mobilink’s brand image has waned from year to year.
By definition, “rebranding” is “the process of giving a product or an organization a new image, in order to make it more attractive or successful.”
The last two years have seen many brands undertaking this exercise including global brands such as Starbucks whose before and after positioning can be seen here.
Since merging with the VimpelCom Group this year, Mobilink has launched a new Urdu-centric brand identity Har Dil. Har Din, a new website, a new logo and unified all its sub-brands under the Mobilink name.
Here is a look at the new brand identity of Mobilink:
There have been mixed reactions to the rebrand from marketers and consumers alike especially regarding the move away from the well-known purple corporate colours to the new red logo, with some local observers even comparing it to a tomato peel. Read this article here which elaborates on the concept of the logo.
Many have pointed out that the logo lacks originality and has borrowed heavily from existing logos in the telecoms industry. An analysis of the logo and its origins can be found here.
Colour is indeed a strong factor in brand recall and many brands may alter logo designs, but do not risk doing away with the well-known colour or colours that define their brand in the eyes of customers as Yahoo!’s on-going “30 logos in 30 days” campaign shows.
Despite some of the negativity that the Mobilink rebrand has generated, it is imperative to examine the reasoning behind the new image from the brand’s own point of view.
Ali Murtaza, Mobilink’s Director Brand Communication & Media elaborates on the vision behind the rebranding.
He says, “Today, Mobilink caters to a demographically younger audience, which is socially-engaged; globally aware; politically vocal, demonstrative and expressive; and expects to talk with their chosen brands and not be talked to.”
“Moreover as a result of changing industry dynamics, it was necessary to migrate from complexity to simplicity, to stand for one set of beliefs instead of several, to engage with emotions instead of price-wars, and to focus on retention instead of acquisition. “ adds Ali.
Mobilink explains the new brand as a means of coming together as “being one.”
They talk about the big idea offering a better day to the customers through their services which is what led them to coming up with the concept of Har Dil Har Din. The logo is hardly communicating a strong statement and the tagline is definitely missing out on the promise of a better customer experience if that is what they intended in the first place.
The company however believes that their communication around the rebrand is talking about building connections and makes the statement of being no 1 in the country.
“Mobilink needed to collect itself and re-emerge from a house of brands into a branded house; and a re-positioning of ourselves as ‘Being One’ i.e. a reflection of our No. 1 ranking together with a sense of community.”
“As an outcome of ‘Being One,’ our brand benefit aims at offering ‘a better every day’. The challenge was to communicate ‘A Better Every day’ in Urdu in a way that captured the spirit of the letter, and each day as being one that is full of heart and promise. We explored multiple options and the clear winner was Har Dil, Har Din,” says Ali.
The question remains as to whether Mobilink has been able to communicate what they set out to convey in the first place.
Ali Murtaza explains the concept of the logo and the colour red as a means of creating a link back to Jazz which is aimed to reflect the continuity of the brand promise.
He says, “The spherical shape of the logo communicates Mobilink’s leadership by representing its global view. Mobilink’s heritage also continues as the new form is inspired by the original Mobilink Orb and depicts the letter M in its static state.”
“The color red, so synonymous with Jazz has been carried forward to add continuity to the transition. The ‘Links’ build on the energy of the logo and its connecting motion. They activate and connect people to each other and to the wider world,” says Ali.
Personally, I valued the old “purple” themed Mobilink more along with the strong corporate image it embodied and their exemplary ads that stood for patriotism and rich cultural imagery. When Mobilink spoke “your language” and promised you seamless connectivity regardless of distances: “baat karo aisay ke faaslay simatt jaen…”
Why don’t you see and judge for yourselves as to which brand positioning really connected with the customers. Take a look at the video below.
That was the kind of communication that really worked for and with customers. The brand perspective may have been in need of a fresh look recently which led Mobilink to reposition itself but in all honesty, Har Dil, Har Din is hardly making a promise that customers can hold on to.
Mobilink’s recent rebrand is definitely a lesson in how one should not go about rebranding an incomplete idea. What we need to see from a company like Mobilink is definitely a more dynamic and appealing brand perception.
- Mergers that kill brands - May 30, 2016
- Mobilink’s Har Dil Har Din: How not to rebrand a Telco - October 1, 2013