Vodafone Repositions for “Exciting” Future

Operator Wants to Help Society Prosper from Tech Trends

This morning, Vodafone announced the biggest shake-up to its brand strategy in more than a decade, through the launch of a new global strapline and visual identity, set to go live tomorrow.

Vodafone’s new tagline “The future is exciting. Ready?” aims to portray a positive outlook, in which new technologies such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence and the connected home play an increasingly beneficial role in consumers’ lives. It replaces the previous “Power to You” slogan, introduced in 2009.

At a launch event to unveil the new branding, Vodafone emphasised that the use of a question mark in the slogan isn’t intended to question the operator’s readiness, but to invite people to embark on a technology journey with it. The company is trying to assert itself as a trusted partner that can guide consumers through sometimes overwhelming and complicated technological changes.

The new brand image will see Vodafone evolve its well-recognised speech mark symbol to a 2D design and deploy a slighter, more modern typeface. The logo will enjoy greater prominence in the operator’s marketing efforts as it seeks to prove its ability to help people prosper and adapt to new trends shaping the world.

The revamp will be supported by Vodafone’s largest advertising campaign in its 33-year history. This will be a coordinated approach, to be implemented throughout its operating and partner markets, and will see the first part of the slogan translated into local languages. The word “Ready?” will remain in English.

Adopting a new strategy for a brand already present in 36 markets — each with unique characteristics — is a major undertaking, and unsurprisingly, Vodafone pointed to extensive studies to support its move.

Notably, in opinion research commissioned by Vodafone, nearly 13,000 people in 14 markets revealed expectations for a far better standard of living over the next 20 years, with technological innovation cited as the main enabler of this change. Vodafone believes that it can capitalise on this optimism and play a leading role in transforming societies and enhancing quality of life.

The findings showed that people aged between 18 and 24 are the most optimistic about the future, a segment that network operators may be perceived as least in touch with. Engaging more with this new wave of tech-savvy consumers could better place Vodafone as a technology leader in the face of strong competition from brands like Amazon, Apple and Google. Indeed, the operator’s recent launch in the UK of a sub-brand for under-25s is an example of its efforts to better connect with a younger demographic (see UK Operators Turn to Sub-Brands for Growth).

Vodafone also highlighted that a more radical change to its name and logo wasn’t an option, as these elements command strong awareness, trust and recognition in many markets. For some time, I have wondered whether the quotation mark symbol is becoming less relevant in an era of touch-screen input, dwindling use of traditional voice services and convergence. But any such change would also incur huge risk and costs, so the evolutionary approach outlined may be the right strategy for now.

The operator should be applauded for its hugely upbeat message. I’ve long believed that many of the societal benefits from mobile connectivity are unappreciated in the eyes of customers. Given the pace of technology change, the time feels right for a brand refresh, although it’s likely that Vodafone was stirred into doing so by strong recent innovation from faster-moving and more-agile Web companies.

In my opinion, the new strapline comes across as a little tame and it remains to be seen how people will interpret the question mark. Still, Vodafone has an unenviable task to position its brand across such a diverse geographical network, so the use of conservative wording to avoid misinterpretation in local markets is probably wise. It will be fascinating to see how well it lands with consumers.