Ready? … Vodafone seeks to capture a bigger idea of “optimism”, in its new brand strategy and biggest ever ad campaign

November 6, 2017

Brands are powerful and valuable, yet also fragile and intangible.

Capturing a brand “concept”, beyond a name and logo, designs and streamlines, products and services, is never easy.

The brands that do have attitude. Their big idea is universally recognisable, even without the multitude of marketing devices. Think of Walt Disney’s dreams, Red Bull’s adrenalin, Lego’s play, Harley Davidson’s freedom. Sometimes it’s not even a simple word, but a supreme feeling that goes beyond words. Think of Apple’s design experience, or Nike’s performance attitude.

In recent times, brands have worked hard to find their higher ground. A great example is Airbnb, knowing that it is much more than an accommodation platform, and that users seek more than functional benefits such as a good facilities, location and price. It’s concept of “belong anywhere” is both distinctive, and inspiring.

Indeed a great brand should do more for you – to engage and inspire you in a bigger idea, and ultimately through its delivery, to enable you to achieve more.

Which brings us to Vodafone.

Telecoms brands have struggled to jump out of the increasingly commoditised sea of utility-based brands. They deliver everyday functional benefits, they are ubiquitous, and as a result they largely compete on functionality and price.

Are you ready?

Vodafone today launched a new brand positioning strategy, strapline and visual identity worldwide – the first changes to one of the world’s best-known brands since the introduction of the ‘Power to you’ strapline in 2009.

The strategy – to be implemented across all 36 countries* in which the Vodafone brand is present – is designed to underline Vodafone’s belief that new technologies and digital services will play a positive role in transforming society and enhancing individual quality of life over the years ahead.

Vodafone’s brand positioning strategy focuses on the theme of optimism about the future, using the new strapline, “The future is exciting. Ready?“. The first part of the strapline will be presented in local languages with the second part – “Ready?” – presented in English. For example: “il futuro è straordinario. Ready?” in Italian;
and “El futuro es apasionante. Ready?” in Spanish.

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

The brand positioning strategy and related advertising campaigns were developed after a period of extensive research and concept testing, including quantitative and qualitative inputs from nearly 30,000 people in 17 countries.

On 6 October 2017, Vodafone launched its largest advertising campaign in its 33-year history.  The lead commercial (above) is a 60-second film focused on how human interaction remains constant while technologies evolve over time – was produced by Ridley Scott Associates.

Optimism about the future

Vodafone commissioned opinion research among almost 13,000 people in 14 countries** to assess the extent to which the public are optimistic – or pessimistic – about their future prospects. The research conducted by YouGov found that:

  • people of all ages believe that technology innovation will have the most positive influence on the future over the next 20 years;
  • 18-24 year olds are the most optimistic about the future: 62% of younger people surveyed believe that living standards will be better in 20 years’ time compared with today; and
  • respondents overall in all age groups, believe that their own living standards, and those of children, will have improved 20 years from now.

Vodafone also commissioned the Futerra consultancy (https://www.wearefuterra.com/) to identify 10 of the top emerging trends that could transform home and working life. Technological developments identified by leading futurologists from five countries included:

  • 3D printed components for housing construction, with 4D printed components that evolve over time as families’ accommodation requirements change;
  • a five-fold increase in global power generation capacity as clean energy such as solar panels are extended from rooftops to windows, walls and even some highways;
  • personalised medical interventions such as 3D bio-printing of organs and limbs;
  • new public transportation systems connecting cities with trains running at up to 600mph (966kph);
  • large-scale water capture projects, including precipitation harvesting, groundwater replenishment and improved desalination, transforming the lives of 1.2 billion people in water-constrained areas; and
  • a tripling of connected sensor usage in farming leading to increased food yields coupled with the development of new protein sources that increasingly displace meat.

Further details of the Futerra research can be found here:  Futerra Briefing Paper

Vodafone’s Group Chief Commercial Operations and Strategy Officer, Serpil Timuray said:

“We believe there are very good reasons to be optimistic about the future as emerging innovations in science and technology begin to have a profoundly positive impact on society. Vodafone has a long and proud history of bringing new technologies to hundreds of millions of people worldwide, enhancing quality of life and transforming the workplace. Our new brand positioning is intended to embody Vodafone’s mission and purpose to help our customers and communities adapt and prosper as these remarkable new trends reshape the world.”

Here’s how Scott Bicheno of industry commentator telecoms.com reviewed the “gratuitous” launch:

“Few things seem to illustrate corporate folly more than blowing tons of cash on brand positioning, but that doesn’t stop them persisting with it.

The latest to take the plunge is UK-based operator group Vodafone, which has embarked on its first major brand spasm since the introduction of the ‘power to you’ strapline in 2009. This time some expensive brand consultancies have helped the company come up with the idea that technology ‘…will play a positive role in transforming society and enhancing individual quality of life over the years ahead.’

To represent this digital utopia Vodafone has gone for the new strapline: ‘The future is exciting. Ready?’. The ‘Ready’ bit seems to be especially important, so much so that Vodafone is going to force the English version on all its markets regardless of their spoken language. So in Spain, for example, it will be “El futuro es apasionante. Ready?” as opposed to “El futuro es apasionante. ¿Listo?”

To back up this wide-eyed optimism Vodafone commissioned some research that concluded people are really optimistic. Vodafone is also doing a minor tweak to its parenthesis logo, which was first unveiled back in 1998, but the brand timeline video below serves mainly to illustrate how little it has evolved since then. Lastly there’s a video ad that Vodafone plans to inflict on us before long to hammer home the message.”

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