• Transform magazine
  • July 18, 2024

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Acquisition prompts brand and promotions changes in telecoms

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With a £12.5bn buyout on the books, BT is set to take over mobile operator EE from partners Orange and T-Mobile (Deutsche Telecom). The state of its brand – already a compilation of two providers distilled down from Everything Everywhere to the simple two letter moniker – and its loyalty schemes are pending.

EE recently made the decision to stop running the popular 2-for-1 cinema ticket promotion it inherited from Orange and which Orange was most widely known for. Yet the promotion had started to detract from EE’s brand strategy. “The key thing around the Orange Wednesday was there just wasn’t enough forward planning,” says customer engagement agency Grass Roots Group’s marketing manager Matthew Lucas. “When does it start to look like manipulation? When does it stop giving the brand what it needs? Orange Wednesday stopped doing that a long time ago but the brand was suffering and it needed that exposure.”

He says companies running promotions must have a strong communications strategy that evolves over time, allowing the promotion to continue to build brand loyalty and speak to what the brand wants to achieve.

The changes under the EE brand may also present a good deal of confusion to customers. When EE was consolidated, the Orange and T-Mobile brands were diminished, prompting dismay from loyal customers wondering of whom they were a customer. Lucas says BT will have to learn from that experience and ensure the communications strategy around the acquisition will speak to the changes to the brand and its service offering.

Grass Roots’ commercial director, Rebecca Calladine says consumer-facing brands that offer services – like telecoms providers, utilities and insurance companies – often turn to promotions to allow for a more regular communication with consumers. “Even something little on a regular basis really does make you think about the brand and the positive things associated with it,” she says. Loyalty schemes like Orange Wednesday fill that void and allow the brand to be present more often in customer’s lives.

“If they strike that balance right,” Lucas adds. “It can be a prolific brand offering. They need to make sure that it’s communicated correctly to their customers and the customers are engaged on that journey.” This thus creates brand advocates and allows employees to become engaged around a service offering. Yet the changes in store will overshadow the end of the beloved programme and usher in an era of change to the brand through which the newly-formed BT mobile arm will have to communicate effectively and build a brand strategy around.