By Tunji Faleye
With the volume of competition that businesses face in most industries world over, it has never been more important to stand out and develop a unique identity and value proposition through strategic branding. While it’s obviously important to offer a quality product or service, effective branding is often at the heart of the companies that thrive. This is why the recent change in identity of Etisalat to 9Mobile is a welcome development.
According to Jerry McLaughlin, “brand is the perception someone holds in their head about you, a product, a service, an organization, a cause, or an idea,” thus, the launch of 9Mobile symbolises this quotation in a deliberate and skilful application of effort to create a desired perception in the minds of their subscribers as an innovative and forward looking organisation.
Since the change in ownership structure and launch of the high-tech logo of 9mobile in Lagos recently, the brand has continued to gain additional prominence in the highly competitive telecommunications market in the country. It will be recalled that Boye Olusanya, Chief Executive Officer, 9mobile, at the unveiling of the new brand identity assured their customers that the values on which network operates remains the same, promising that the refreshed brand will continue to improve and delight its subscribers.
Seni Ogunkola, Head, Marketing Communications, 9mobile, in the same vein posits, “With the launch of our new 9mobile brand, our commitment to providing our subscribers with best-in-class telecommunications services continues. We live in a digitalized world and 9mobile brand is positioned to deliver more platforms, products and services using the power of technology. The vivacity of our new brand is an affirmation of our creativity and the recent launch of a volley of value adding services, such as our BlazeOn and Kwikcash service, is an attestation to our commitment to good services.”
It’s worth noting therefore, that the migration to a new name and brand promise became imperative for sustaining and continuously providing innovative and value-adding propositions which the brand has been delivering from inception.
In defining the new identity, the management of 9Mobile decided to go logical in spite of other available options to the brand. According to Seni, “we thought of using what we already own which is residual brand asset, and that is what we did. We needed to make it known that it is not an entirely new brand that is coming into the market because we needed to be at the same place Etisalat used to be; the 3rd most valuable brand. The 4th entrant is still what we want to be but with a new name. So, we looked inward and the inspiration came from our 0809ja heritage.
“The question has always being why ‘9’? ‘9’ has always been part of the fabric of this brand from the first day. The 1st advert ever ran was ’Who ever says silence is golden?’ and after that we came up with ‘Naija let’s talk 0809ja’. Four years after, 2012, we came up with one of the biggest campaign Etisalat has ever ran in terms of the impact and recognition that came with it, and the title of the campaign was ‘0809ja for life’ and that was when we quickly moved 0809ja to qualify that it’s not just a number anymore but an attitude. The attitude of being creative, being cool, smart. All these creative campaigns have become the factors that qualify the brand to be 0809ja for life!
“Two years after that, 2014 to be precise, we had ‘Cloud 9’, the youth engagement platform to connect to the Nigerian youth market and with a touch of music. The essence of music comes from the recognition that it is one thing that is working well and going well in Nigeria. It brings everyone together and so we used that to encourage all Nigerian youths. In 2016, we created CLOUD 9 TV which is a retail engagement. It is like a TV programme that you watch instead of watching CNN each time you are in any of our offices.”
Significance Of The New Identity And Elements
The name 9mobile is strategic and significant because it marked the 9 years of the network’s enormous contribution to the Nigerian economy. Hence, the change of name from Etisalat to 9Mobile is a complete brand transformation from one innovative-driven organisation to another high tech, innovative, forward looking, resilient, vibrant, dynamic and youthful organisation.
The new logo represents resilience and continuity, and also expresses the brand’s thoughts about the future, particularly of digital technology and its continued impact on communication and human interactions.
The following are the make-ups of the new identity and what they stand for:
The Number ‘9’
At the time the management of 9mobile unveiled the new identity, experts concurred that there wouldn’t be a better name for the network. The position that Seni agreed with when he said, “9 is the strongest in all the things that are associated with the company. We took it from our heritage into our new identity and that gave birth to 9mobile. We started from the basics. We want to be a brand that respects and values humanity and of course, with so much of human face.
“We talk so much internally about what is the human truth behind what we are doing as a brand. We said life begins at 9, simply for so many reasons. We have been around for 9 years. All our campaigns have been around ‘9’. The platforms and assets we have are around ‘9’ and more importantly, as humans, we came to life after 9 months. Also when we talk about football, the no ‘9’ is the striker who scores goals more than anybody in a football match.
“There is so much of life to it and that takes us back to the story of trying to define the brand in a way that is unique, different, youthful, creative, and more importantly exciting. It all fits together like one puzzle, and that was how we came about our campaign, ‘Say hello to the new identity’. We tested it and people felt that it is youthful and has strong futuristic positioning. It’s digitally relevant.
“Looking at the brand shows many links to our heritage. It’s vibrant and dynamic. It clearly stands out among other competitors. It’s also simple, memorable and more importantly, we want this to be the start of a pop culture; that people will be able to recognise as brand that speaks to lifestyle.”
The Bull’s Eye
The black and white circular pattern in the logo is the Bull’s eye. It is not there as a decoration or beauty, it is also very imperative. The Bull’s eye signifies a sign of marksmanship to make subscribers accept 9mobile brand as one that hits the Bull’s eye all the time, while the network signal from the Bull’s eyes signifies centre of working connectivity.
As a number-themed logo which reflects the network’s futuristic slant, the green colour; its light and dark variants as part of the logo reflects dynamism, vibrancy, life, youth and the brand’s ‘Nigerianness.’ All these bring to the fore, the painstaking efforts made to agree on the use of the high-tech logo for the brand.
The essence of the iconic looks of the logo with the lemon green colour is strategic. It is deliberate not to be another telecommunication brand in Nigeria. The brand wants to be the same number three that it has always been, and maintain that space.
According to Elvis Ogiemwanye, Director, Brand and Experience, 9mobile, “Despite the fact that we changed the colour from the Etisalat green, we still maintained our green colour in form of lemon green. Beyond the lemon green, we want to prove to our subscribers and prospective subscribers that we are the leader in the data market and that is why we have our design done that way. That means it’s not just a ‘9’, it’s a ‘9’ in an iconic way that speaks about the strategy and philosophy behind the operations of the business.
“Though, the new colours are almost the same with Etisalat’s, our own dark green is darker than Etisalat’s while our own light green is lighter than theirs. We went lighter and we went darker. We want subscribers to still pass through our shops and say, that was where Etisalat used to be and it’s now 9 Mobile. That is why we remain green and which also Nigeria is known for.”
Reasons For The New Identity
Speaking about the reason for the new identity and the efforts put into it, Seni says, “the reason for the new identity is because the trading name has left and we have a purely Nigerian company, besides, the policies, people and processes have not changed. Unlike Etisalat that had both Nigerians and foreigners as staff, one interesting thing about 9Mobile is that the brand is proudly indigenous, being managed purely by Nigerians especially, when government is championing its buying a Nigerian product. No wonder that it’s ‘Nigerianness’ has enabled it to resonate well with many Nigerians across board.
The Marketing Communications head further explained that the company did a lot of research and analyses about the future before embarking on the change of identity from Etisalat to 9Mobile. In his words: “We pondered what is going to be the strategic pillars for the new identity even before we came up with the name. Since our first year in this market, we have been delivering good services to the people, and we will still do more in order to maintain our space as innovators. We have also given ourselves the task of looking for a unique way of doing the same things that are generic.
“Don’t forget that last year we introduced 3D calls to have more value adding service to our audio call which had made it innovative. This is basically for call clarity with so much high fidelity that you cannot hear anything from the background when you are receiving calls, irrespective of your location. The system simply picks your voice and not what is happening around you. We have done different communication materials that even the market leader had replicated. It is our belief that we are leading in innovation when other people are doing the same thing we have done.”
About The Brand
With the organisation’s revolutionary digital brand experience; one thing that stands it out is its quality and speed of its data and its consumer centricity. Right from the time of Etisalat, the organisation was the first to introduce an App that helps you do things without visiting the shops. It will also be recalled that the network introduced MY ETISALAT which was latter replicated by other network two months later. While the network appreciates that, it has never been found wanting of replicating others organisations’ work, because the network is always at the vanguard of innovation, producing things that add value to the life of the subscribers.
Despite the fact that all these have formed part of what the organisation had done in the past 9 years, it is instructive to know that the new baby, 9Mobile will not stop at that, as its leadership has promised the capability of the network to do more and make all these traits the key pillars of the new phase to define the new identity.
According to the 9Mobile CEO, the new brand identity reflects the bold and creative attributes which the organisation shares with its valued subscribers. “The vivacity of the brand will enable the company connect more with its subscribers especially the youth. We will continue to establish meaningful partnerships with our customers and partners by providing platforms that support their goals and aspirations.”
Another factor that will make the company continue to stand out and remain relevant Olusanya says, is the DNA of the brand as well as its corporate values. “I will start with the corporate values. There are five of them namely: Integrity, Empowerment, Passion for Excellence, One team, One Nation. These are the corporate values that guide our operations in the company and are majorly driven by the Human Resources.
“Also, there are three things in the marketing aspect of the brand. These include: Brand archetypes; they are the model used internally to analyse the brands that we want to take out to the public or want the public to know. The next model that we use is the Aaker framework for brand personalities. If you read the story behind the framework, it generally states that brands must have one of these traits; sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication and ruggedness. So, the brand has to lean towards any of these.
“Based on the research and analyses we have done on our brand over the years, we discovered that most of our traits are linked towards excitement. Therefore, people have come to describe us as bold, cool, confident, daring, young, fabulous, trendy, hip, creative, fun, smart, ambitious, friendly and unique.”
There is a lot of optimism for 9Mobile among stakeholders who believe that the network will fly higher in the nation’s telecommunications landscape in the years to come. A glance at the recent efforts employed and deployed by the network suggest a serious understanding of the industry which is evident in the creative competence of the organisation especially when most organisations are confronted with finding the right balance between giving the client what they want and what they truly need. So many reasons abound why 9Mobile will fly higher in the telecommunications landscape. They follow but not limited to the following:
Right from the brand’s transformation process, it has shown that the handlers of 9Mobile have a thorough understanding of the demographics of their target market, what their interests are, and how they communicate. This is what has set the brand apart and it is believed that the sky is the limit for the mobile network. Understanding the target market is critical to 9Mobile because it provides direction for the tone and reach of a marketing campaign. This will go a long way to create an organic, human connection between the organisation and its audience.
Uniqueness of the brand is another factor for consideration here. 9Mobile has distinguished itself as a unique brand via its new identity, brand proposition and others. It has shown that establishing a brand identity requires something distinctive which is evident in the way it handled its transition from Etisalat to 9Mobile.
Interestingly, apart from the new identity, 9Mobile has changed its product portfolios without any restriction using the word ‘more’, meaning to enable subscribers to get more value than they bargain for. Hence, ‘Easystarter’ has become ‘Moretalk’; ‘Easyflex’ has become ‘Moreflex’; ‘Easyblaize has become ‘Moreblaize’; ‘Easybusiness has become ‘Morebusiness’, while ‘Easycliq is now ‘Morelife.’ This step is to make the 9 Mobile network more exciting and fun for the subscribers.
Passion for Innovation and Creativity
9Mobile has massive passion for innovation and creativity. This is shown in its new brand identity in the short-term. It is also through passion that the brand will be sustained in the long run. 9Mobile like other massively successful brands have serious passion that keeps propelling them to work hard and continually attain greatness. This is evident in the first communication material of 9Mobile, where ‘9’ was ripped out from the middle of a newspaper to announce the birth of another creativity. It is also about being spontaneous, agile and trendy in spite of its age. For the brand, it is a good way to say Etisalat might have gone, but 9Mobile is here for the subscribers for life.
Significantly, the use of football, music and other cultural symbols in the brand’s commercials have also shown that 9Mobile also accommodate with anybody irrespective of age, gender and ethnicity as it begins another phase of its business endeavour in the country.
For 9 good solid years, Etisalat has been consistent with its offering. No wonder it has occupied the first position in data and data processing in spite of being the last entrant into the telecommunications market. Now that 9Mobile has been born out of nine years of Etisalat’s operation and years of landmark developments in Nigeria, it is evident that 9mobile will continue to sustain and continuously provide innovative and value-adding propositions.
9Mobile thrives to be a global iconic brand like Apple, Nike, Coca-cola, Samsung and the rest which have been known globally for what they are. With its youthfulness, dynamism and vibrancy, the network is expected to become a global brand in the nearest future.
It will be recalled that the network has built a strong foundation which better positions the all-new 9Mobile brand to continue delivering innovative solutions and other good services which support businesses and people. Its guiding principle is also hinged upon, customer-centricity and quality of service even as the new management focuses on driving the network toward efficient growth.
With Experience Centres, online and physical touch points wearing new look, this will essentially facilitate seamless integration and position the network for the new challenge of occupying the vantage position in the nation’s telecoms industry.